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March 30, 2023

New attack against Metropolitan Bishop Bartolomeu

Even now, when he is ill and secluded, the Metropolitan Bishop of Northern Ardeal, Bartolomeu Anania, has not escaped attacks. In its yesterday issue, a central newspaper unveiled two memos submitted to communist-era secret services, in 1964, by the Securitate collaborator code-named ‘Apostol,’ against Antonie Plamadeala, future Metropolitan Bishop of Ardeal. At that time, the Ardeal region had only one Metropolitan seat, while today it is split in two, headquartered in Sibiu and Cluj. The National Council for the Studies of Securitate Archives (CNSAS) College in charge with analyzing the files of the former secret police (Securitate) already identified ‘Apostol’ in the person of today’s Metropolitan Bishop of Cluj, who had just been released from prison at the time when he wrote the memos. The two Orthodox hierarchs had similar careers. Like many youth of their time, who were close to the Church, they sympathized with the far-right movement The Iron Guard, then in the first years of the communism they were both involved in anti-communist actions during their university years, which sent them to jail as political prisoners, in appalling conditions. Later, they travelled abroad on official Church missions, they became bishops, ranged among the learned people of the Church, and published their memoirs (though Antonie Plamadeala did it more subtly, as autobiographic novels – the only possible form during the communist years). Furthermore, they were both suspected of collaboration with the Securitate. The similar careers fuelled a rivalry between them, which however never escalated to direct confrontation, as Arch-Bishop Bartolomeu only provoked the splitting of the Ardeal seat after its holder, Antonie passed away. After 1990, the accusations against the former were recurrent, though he always firmly denied any collaboration with secret police. He even mentioned some instances when he was the target of Antonie Plamadeala’s memos against him, while he was in the USA. Worth mentioning, the two memos used to identify him as informant are not handwritten, but typed on a typewriter. The recent accusations brought by the newspaper were either meant as “journalistic bombs” (their author specializes in unveiling dirty things in the life of personalities), or they satisfy the appetite for scandals involving members of the clergy, or they relate to the still unsolved dilemma over the guilt of collaborationism. Metropolitan Bishop Bartolomeu strongly denies that he was the informant named ‘Apostol’ and threatens to sue the newspaper for defamation. The story was documented during over half a year and its publishing was probably delayed by the author being sacked by the newspaper, where she had made herself a name as expert in matters related to CNSAS.

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