Archd., 3; dioc., 8; ord., 1; ex., 1; card., 1; abp., 7; bp., 11; parishes, 1,415; priests, 1,749 (1,545 dioc., 204 rel.); p.d., 3; sem., 935; bros., 172; srs., 1,259; bap., 11,991; Caths., 2,005,000 (8.9%); tot. pop., 22,410,000.
Republic in southeastern Europe; capital, Bucharest. Latin Christianity, introduced in the third century, all but disappeared during the barbarian invasions. The Byzantine rite was introduced by the Bulgars about the beginning of the eight century and established firm roots. It eventually became Orthodox, but a large number of its adherents returned later to union with Rome.
Communists took over the government following World War II, forced the abdication of Michael I in 1947, and enacted a Soviet type of constitution in 1952. By that time a campaign against religion was already in progress . In 1948 the government denounced a concordat concluded in 1929, nationalized all schools and passed a law on religions that resulted in the disorganization of Church administration . The 1.5 million-member Romanian Byzantine-rite Church, by government decree, was incorporated into the Romanian Orthodox Church, and Catholic properties were given to the Orthodox. Five of the six Latin-rite bishops were immediately disposed of by the government, and the last was sentenced to 18 years' imprisonment in 1951. Religious orders were suppressed in 1949.
Some change for the better in Church- state relations was a reported after the middle of the summer of 1964, although restrictions were still in effect. The Eastern Church regained liberty in 1990 with the change of government. The hierarchy was restored and diplomatic relations with the Holy See were re-established. Today, most Latin-rite Catholics are ethnic Hungarians residing in Transylvania.
Pope John Paul II visited Romania May 7-9 1999, but remained in Bucharest; he split time between visits with Catholics and Orthodox and did not visit Transylvania, despite an invitation from the region's bishops. To facilitate the visit, Eastern Catholics gave up there demands for the return of all former Church properties and agreed to work on committees with Orthodox to discuss each case individually. Church leaders said the historic visit led to a deeper openness and understanding between Catholics and Orthodox.
(The above exert comes from Our Sunday Visitor's 2004 Catholic Almanac and is used on this web site with the publisher's permission.)