Romanian People's Salvation Cathedral

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The Cathedral for the Salvation of Romanian People (Romanian: Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului Românesc) is a Romanian Orthodox cathedral to be built in Bucharest. The cathedral will be the largest Orthodox church in the world, and amongst the largest church buildings in the world, with a length of Template:Convert. With an overall height of Template:Convert, it will be the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world, surpassing the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour - Template:Convert (Moscow) and the bell towers of Peter and Paul Cathedral - Template:Convert (Saint Petersburg). It will be the second tallest building in Romania, after Floreasca City Center.

The construction project and especially its location have been subject of heated national debates. The current design explicitly displays architectural detail from all Romanian provinces and territories. Initially, three locations were proposed for the cathedral; the final choice of the historic area of Arsenal Hill on 13 September Avenue was made in 2004. This area once contained two monasteries (Mihai Vod? Monastery Ensemble and Nuns' Hermitage Conventual Complex) and three parochial settlements (Alb? Post?vari, Spirea Veche and Izvorul T?m?duirii) that were destroyed, through demolition or transfer, under the communist regime.

Select committees of the Romanian Senate and the Mayor of Bucharest had been reviewing different design variants well in advance of selection of this design in October 2004. This edifice will also serve as the Cathedral of the Patriarchate of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

Name

The first proposal for a Cathedral dedicated to the "Romanian People's Salvation" arose in 1990.<ref name="postcommunist"/> Every Eastern Orthodox church is usually dedicated to a saint, but the cathedral is currently only known for its dedication to the salvation of the Romanian people. Archbishop Bartolomeu Anania explained the name by saying that a nation is not just a "socio-historical reality", but also a "metaphysical, religious and theological reality" and that salvation must be obtained collectively, by the whole nation.

History

National Cathedral

The earliest idea of a national cathedral arose after the Romanian War of Independence (1877–1878), being meant to symbolize the victory of Orthodoxy against the Ottoman Muslims. While gaining strong support, no consensus was found for the size nor for its location and the project was forgotten as neither the government nor the Orthodox Church were willing to finance it.

King Ferdinand sent in 1920 a letter to Metropolitan Miron Cristea, supporting the project, but it led to no new developments. After the Romanian Orthodox Church became an independent patriarchate, in 1925, Cristea proposed the place of Carol Park. As the media and the local inhabitants disagreed with the idea, Cristea accepted a plot in Bibescu Vod? Square, where, in 1929, a troi?? was raised. Lack of funds meant that the construction was postponed and later forgotten.

People's Salvation Cathedral

In September 1995, as the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrated its 70th anniversary since gaining independence, Patriarch Teoctist proposed to the Romanian government and believers a new project. He envisioned it to have a capacity of 10,000 worshipers, and to be 72 metres long, 44 metres wide and 52 metres high, it was meant to be within the size range of the newly built Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow.

The Romanian Senate voted favorably on 12 October 2004 on the project. Once started, construction is expected to take six years.<ref name="piatratemelie"/>

The complex of the cathedral includes a cathedral with a capacity of 5,500 people, a soup kitchen that can hold about 1,000 below the church, two hotels, and parking for about 500 cars.

Location

The first proposed location was in place of the park in Pia?a Unirii,<ref name="saseani">"Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului ar putea fi inaugurat? peste ?ase ani", Adev?rul, 26 November 2007</ref> where in 1998, without a proper authorization, Patriarch Teoctist laid the cornerstone of the Cathedral, in presence of President Emil Constantinescu.<ref name="postcommunist">Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, "The Romanian Orthodox Church and Post-Communist Democratisation", in Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 52, No. 8 (Dec. 2000), pp. 1472</ref>

During the discussions which followed, Orthodox theologians warned that, according to church's doctrine, people who want to change the purpose of a plot of land where a church is destined to be built will be anathemized.<ref name="postcommunist"/>

Nevertheless, the place was not appropriate for a large building because it was the place where two metro lines intersected the Dâmbovi?a River, which was channeled underground.<ref name="Stan and Turcescu, p. 59">Stan and Turcescu, p. 59</ref>

The Orthodox Church chose Carol Park as the new location for the cathedral,<ref name="Stan and Turcescu, p. 59"/> and in 2004, the N?stase government gave 5 hectares of the park to the Romanian Orthodox Church, so that the cathedral could be built in place of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Bucharest and the Mausoleum of Communist Heroes.<ref name="saseani"/> The Architects' Union of Romania opposed the project location, arguing that it goes against certain national and international laws regarding environment protection, architecture and the protection of monuments.<ref name="undesevaconstrui">"Unde se va construi Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului?", BBC, 4 November 2004</ref>

Following protests by local Bucharesters and opposition in the press, as well as conflicts with the then-Mayor of Bucharest, Traian B?sescu,<ref name="undesevaconstrui"/> the site was changed to Izvor Park (right near the Palace of the Parliament).

The Orthodox Church received Template:Convert from the Romanian government and it will use Template:Convert for the building,<ref name="zgarie">"Catedrala Zgârie-nori", in Evenimentul Zilei, 23 February 2006</ref> where the cornerstone was laid on 29 November 2007 by Patriarch Daniel.<ref name="proiectcontroversat">"Catedrala Patriarhal? r?mâne un proiect controversat", BBC, 29 November 2007</ref>

One problem with the current location is that a Template:Convert plot has also been claimed by former owners from whom it was confiscated during the communist era. The Patriarchate is now trying to solve this issue.<ref name="piatratemelie">"Punerea pietrei de temelie a Catedralei Neamului", BBC, 28 November 2007</ref>

Size

Under the current project the building will have a height of Template:Convert; being taller than the Palace of the Parliament, its length and width are Template:Convert.<ref name="dimensiuni catedrala">"Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului – Un dar pentru eternitate", PATRIARHIA ROMÂN?</ref> It will have room for around 5,000 people,<ref name="proiectcontroversat"/> much more than the current patriarchal cathedral, which has room for only 500 people and has been deemed by the Patriarchy as not being spacious enough.<ref name="patriarchy"/> The surrounding complex can hold up to 125,000 people. On completion, the structure will be the tallest religious building in south-eastern Europe.<ref name="BBC">Template:Cite web</ref>

The sheer size of the building drew criticism from various sources, including the French newspaper Le Figaro, which named it "a pharaonic project" and "worthy of the megalomania of Nicolae Ceau?escu".<ref name="lefigaro"/> Alexandru Paleologu called the cathedral project to be stopped, arguing that the cathedral is "a catastrophic, fatal kitsch", "an ecclesiastical Ceau?escuism" and "parasitical, immoral and impertinent", as well as comparing it to the Soviet-inspired Casa Scânteii and House of the PeopleTemplate:Dn. Journalist Cristian Tudor Popescu called the cathedral a "God mall" and argued that it's not churches—big or small—that Romania lacks currently.

Opponents also noted that the grandiose style of the cathedral is alien to the Romanian Orthodox spirit, being inspired by the Roman Catholic tradition. The difference between those two traditions being that the tall Catholic cathedrals want to create a connection between the believer and God, while the Orthodox churches are meant to bring the community together.

The Romanian Orthodox Church's answer to such criticism was that it will not imitate the gigantic buildings of the communist era, but would "correct them, through a decent and harmonious volumetry". Also, the church attacked the critics from the media, calling them "irresponsible".<ref name="patriarchy">Romanian Patriarchy, "Ferici?i cei ce construiesc biserici, nu cei ce le demoleaz?" (press release)</ref>

Cost and financing

The cost of the cathedral was estimated in 2006 by Evenimentul Zilei at more than €500 million (including the price of the land),<ref name="zgarie"/> while Le Figaro estimated it in 2008 at €1 billion.<ref name="lefigaro">"Les projets pharaoniques de l'Église orthodoxe à Bucarest", in Le Figaro, 1 February 2008</ref> Patriarch Daniel estimated in 2007 the cost of the building (excluding the land) at around €400 million.<ref name="aeroport">"PF Daniel: Catedrala Mântuirii Neamului cost? mai pu?in decât aeroportul din Ia?i", Gândul, 29 November 2007</ref>

The government announced it will donate 30 million lei (€8 million) and the Romanian Parliament enacted a law by which further half of the cost of the Cathedral will be paid from the state budget.<ref name="buget">"Catedrala Bugetului Neamului", in România Liber?, 13 December 2007</ref>

This action received criticism from various sources: Daniel D?ianu, a Liberal European MP noted that the government has to reduce other parts of the budget in order to be able to pay for this and that it is a populist spending.<ref name="buget"/> Remus Cernea, the head of the Solidaritatea pentru libertatea de con?tiin?? Association sent a complaint to the government regarding the donation of public funds to the Orthodox Church, and announced they will sue the government for not respecting the laws regarding the discrimination of religious movements.

Patriarch Daniel responded to criticism by arguing that its cost is not very big and that it costs less than the building of the new airport in Ia?i.<ref name="aeroport"/>

Construction

On 29 November 2007, Patriarch Daniel of Romania gave his blessing to the commencement of berth of putting the foundation stone and of consecration of the place for building the new Patriarchal Cathedral on Arsenal Hill. The berth was attended by members of the Holy Synod, gathered in Bucharest, in working session, on 27 and 28 November, officials of the Romanian public life and almost 1,000 priests and believers from Bucharest and other cities.

Construction of the cathedral started on 15 December 2010. The foundation has already been laid, and work is currently being done on the lower three floors, which make up the basement. The Cathedral is currently under construction, with a scheduled completion date sometime in 2014–2015.

Notes

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References

  • Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-530853-0
  • Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, "Politics, National Symbols and the Romanian Orthodox Cathedral," Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 58, no. 7 (November 2006), pp. 1119–1139.
  • Template:Cite web

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