eurel     Données sociologiques et juridiques sur la religion en Europe et au-delà


  • October 2017 : The Constitutional Court of Romania’s Decision on the Issue of Family Life

This year, public debate in Romania has focused on the definition of the family. The Coalition for Family, an association that seeks to promote the traditional family and is opposed to same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, wants to amend the Constitution by defining the family as the union between a man and a woman and not as the union of spouses, as the Constitution currently provides. The Coalition has been supported by all the recognised religious denominations in Romania in its efforts to collect more than 3 million signatures, which are required to hold a constitutional referendum. Now that all the legal steps to organise the referendum have been completed, all that remains is to set a date. This has been postponed several times.

In the meantime, the Constitutional Court acknowledged in Decision No. 562/19.09.2017 that the provision of the Criminal Procedure Code denying unmarried persons living as a couple the right to refuse to testify as a witness was unconstitutional. There is no relevant difference from the point of view of morality, emotion and the right to form a family, between legally married partners and those involved in a consensual union.

The Constitutional Court also points out that, although the Constitution does not define the concept of family life, the European Court of Human Rights’ case law has held that the concept of family life is not limited to families based on marriage and can include other de facto relationships. It has been argued that the Court’s decision has made it very difficult to justify the need for a referendum to change the definition of family.

On the other hand, claims by supporters of same-sex marriage that a ban on marriage for these couples automatically means a ban on the right to create a family would be equally unhelpful. This outlines the very high probability of introducing civil partnership as an intermediate solution for both parties.

  • May 2017 : Turkish religious authorities unveil plans for the Grand Mosque to be built in Bucharest

Model images of the mosque to be built in Bucharest have been published on the website of the Turkiye Diyanet Vakfi [Turkiye Diyanet Foundation], which supports the activity of the Turkish Ministry of Religious Affairs. According to the plans, the building would have a capacity for 1,500 people, a ritual washing area, auditorium, library, kitchens, fountains, sports centre, accommodation rooms, café and restaurant.

The images published by the Diyanet have reignited criticism from some Romanian politicians, who have previously opposed the project, claiming that the country has strong Christian values that must be protected.

It may or may not come as a surprise that the same plans also caused dissatisfaction among the Mufti of the Muslim Cult in Romania who announced the construction of Europe’s largest mosque in Romania in October 2016. The spiritual leader of the Muslim community argued that he had not been consulted by the Turkish authorities regarding the size and architecture of the future mosque. In his vision, a mosque with a single minaret would be preferable, as it would be more in keeping with Romania’s specific Muslim culture and civilisation. Moreover, he claimed that the project would be too ostentatious for the needs and size of the Muslim community in Bucharest. Nevertheless, the mufti stressed the need to build the mosque because, firstly, it is a constitutional right of the Romanian Muslim community to request a proper place of worship and, secondly, it would reduce the number of unauthorised mosques in Bucharest.

According to the Turkish authorities, building work would start at the end of 2017, with the final deadline for starting construction of the mosque being 2018. The government has in fact imposed a 3-year period, starting in 2016, to begin the works, otherwise the whole project will be abandoned by the Romanian State.

Sources : Fondation Diyanet de Turquie, The Romania journal, (in Romanian).

  • May 2017 : Pope Francis’s potential visit to Romania in 2018

In a statement issued at the end of their General Assembly (3-5 May 2017), which was also attended by Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendìa (the Apostolic Nuncio to Romania), the Romanian Catholic bishops announced that Pope Francis’ trip to Romania, scheduled for 2018, is almost certain to go ahead. The Catholic bishops hope that this trip will mark the beatification of seven Greek-Catholic bishops, killed under the communist regime.
The Pope was officially invited in 2016 by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Romania and by the Romanian President, Klaus Iohannis. Media sources indicate that the Romanian Orthodox Church has also associated itself with this invitation, although for the moment the Romanian Patriarchate has not officially confirmed an invitation.
If the plans go ahead, it will be the second visit by a pope to Romania, a country with a majority of Orthodox Christians, following the visit of John Paul II in May 1999.

Source : Press release of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

D 30 octobre 2017    AGabriel Birsan

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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