romanian literary monthly

~Alexandru Nemoianu: “Historical progress and continuity”

Historical progress has often been thought to be linear or like a spiral. In fact, historical progress moves in circles that add one to the other con­centrically. History expands continu­ously, and circle (or cycle) after circle makes this expansion possible. It is quite similar on an individual or per­sonal level. As human beings, we are conditioned biologically. We have to repeat a biological cycle; and for this reason, and superficially considered, those cycles seem identical. But in fact, not a single individual cycle (or existence) is identical to a previous one. This is true even more so in the case of the historical cycles experi­enced by large communities or insti­tutions. In this huge variety resides our freedom and our responsibility. Each individual and each generation is able and has the duty to make a choice: and, that choice (or accumu­lation of choices) is the mark that makes their respective existence unique.

In the case of the historical cycles or the largest communities or institu­tions, there always is a moment when the quantitative accumulation of choices changes into a new quality. That is the „moment of definition“ that will characterize the respective historical period. This historical dem­onstration is rare for the historical development of all Romanian-Ameri­can institutions, including the Roma­nian Orthodox Episcopate of America.

The evolution of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America is similar to that of the Romanian-American community in its entirety. This evolution follows a pattern that is similar for all „ethnic“ groups and institutions from America. In order to control their lives in the new envi­ronment, the „newcomers“ (that is the new immigrants) established their own institutions (parishes, societies) and pretty much they stayed together. In this way, they created for them­selves a sense of security, or as the sociologist Erich Fromm said: „This identity … gives the individual secu­rity. He belongs to, he is rooted in a structuralized whole in which he has an unquestionable place. He may suffer from hunger or suppression, but he does not suffer from the worst of all pain – complete aloneness and doubt.“ When the second generation adopted English as the main language and other American customs, some intergenerational conflicts were ex­perienced as the native-born „ethnics“ resented their parents’ attachment to the past; and equally: the parents dis­liked their children’s „disloyalty“. In the third and fourth generations, con­flicts and fears about identity disap­peared, and the descendents of the immigrants developed a comfortable interest in their heritage.

The Romanian Orthodox Episco­pate of America gained its sense of identity and historical mission dur­ing the long and faithful pastorate of Archbishop VALERIAN, a pastorate that represented the first full histori­cal cycle in the Episcopate’s devel­opment. In regard to that historical period, a very interesting fact should be remembered. The communist oc­cupation of Romania and the crimes committed by that nefarious regime had a strong impact on Romanian-American institutions. When demo­cratic principles, traditions and Chris­tian values were viciously attacked by a regime that was contrary to ev­erything the Romanian-Americans stood for, they had no other choice but to refute that regime, avoid any contact with it and fight it by all means.

In the meantime, that situation had a positive effect. A historical pro­cess precipitated, in that all Roma­nian-Americans realized that their institutions were their own, and they had to defend them and contribute to their prosperity. Separated from the emotional and psychological burden of the „old country“, the Romanian-American institutions were free for the first time in their history, to con­centrate entirely on themselves and to become fully American institutions.

Today, the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America is a mature and solid institution, completing an­other historical cycle. The Episco­pate has no doubts regarding its iden­tity and historical mission. It is part of Orthodox America, preserving the heritage and traditions of Romanian Orthodoxy. During recent years, new churches were built, a large number of new missions were accepted into the Episcopate; and, the Episcopate consolidated its position in America and in the Orthodox world as well.

This development occurs in the present historical time; and, in such circumstances, difficulties were un­avoidable. What is important is the fact that the development progresses in the same spirit that characterized the entire development of the Epis­copate; and, in that is a clear sign of historical progress and continuity.


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