New Archbishop for Alba Iulia
It's not only the Diocese of Durham that's been excited about the arrival of a new Bishop. Our Link diocese of Alba Iulia in the Romanian Orthodox Church also now has a new Archbishop. Unlike the rather protracted process in the C of E, the Romanian Orthodox Church does things a lot more quickly! It's in some ways a more transparent process too, with an election, and voting figures for each candidate published online.
In February this year, Archbishop Bartolemeu, the Metropolitan of Cluj, died. By March, an election had been held, and Archbishop Andrei of Alba Iulia had been elected as the new Metropolitan. That news was a great loss for his diocese and ours, as Archbishop Andrei is much loved, and has been passionate in his support for the Link from the beginning. But it's a gain for the whole Romanian Orthodox Church and for its ecumenical relations, as Archbishop Andrei as Metropolitan will have a greater influence on the life of that whole church.
In the photograph (above) the new Archbishop Ireneu is presented with an icon by the Patriarch, Daniel; and (below) the crowds outside Alba Iulia Cathedral
But there is now also a new Archbishop in Alba Iulia. After an election which was delayed because of Lent, the new Archbishop Ireneu was enthroned in Alba Iulia Cathedral on Sunday 5 June. There was a vast crowd, inside and outside the Cathedral, and the liturgy was televised nationally. By chance, it was the last day of a pre-arranged visit by Jeremy Chadd, the Link co-ordinator, to Alba Iulia. He was invited to the enthronement and to the meal afterwards with the Romanian Bishops and with the Patriarch, Daniel, and was able to greet the new Archbishop. He also presented him with a letter of greeting from Bishop Mark, and a book on Durham Cathedral. Our exchange priests also met Archbishop Ireneu in August.
Archbishop Ireneu was previously assistant bishop in Cluj archdiocese. He is a monk and a theologian, and had spent three years in the 1980s at Princeton University in the USA, so speaks some English. We are looking forward to developing our relationship with him, and to the Link continuing to flourish and grow, as both Durham and Alba Iulia move forward with new diocesan Bishops.
Archbishop Ireneu is pictured (right) blessing the crowds gathered inside Alba Iulia Cathedral, while (below) the new Metropolitan, Andrei, is pictured (left of photo) during the celebration meal after the enthronement. Patriarch Daniel is in the centere in white.
The clergy exchange and experience programme has continued this year, with visits over the summer and autumn between the Revd Rupert Kalus at Shildon and his Romanian link partner, Father Ionel Arsu at Cunta, and the Revd Olaf Eriksson at Pallion and Millfield and his partner Father Mircea Ceusan at Sighisoara.
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