Chronology of Catholic Dioceses:The Romanian Catholic Church

See a list of abbreviations used in this list.

1: Historical Background

2: Jurisdictions

1: Historical Background

Transylvania, presently one of the three major regions of Romania along with Wallachia and Moldavia, became part of Hungary in the early 11th century. Although the principality was also home to large numbers of Hungarians and Germans, who were mostly Latin Catholics, Orthodox Romanians made up the majority of the population. Soon after the province was taken by the Turks in the 16th century, Calvinism became widespread among the Hungarians, and Lutheranism among the Germans.

In 1687, the Habsburg Austrian emperor Leopold I drove the Turks from Transylvania and annexed it to his empire. It was his policy to encourage Orthodox within his realm to become Byzantine Catholics. For this purpose the Jesuits began to work as missionaries among the Transylvanian Romanians in 1693. Their efforts, combined with the denial of full civil rights to the Orthodox, and the spread of Protestantism in the area which caused growing concern among the Orthodox clergy, all contributed to the acceptance of a union with Rome by Orthodox Metropolitan Atanasie of Transylvania in 1698. He later convoked a synod which formally concluded the agreement on 4 September 1700.

At first this union included most of the Romanian Orthodox in the province. But in 1744, the Orthodox monk Visarion let a popular uprising which sparked a widespread movement back towards Orthodoxy. In spite of Government efforts to enforce the union with Rome - even by military means - resistance was such that Empress Maria Theresa reluctantly allowed the appointment of a bishop for the Romanian Orthodox in Transylvania in 1759. In the end, about half of the Transylvanian Romanians returned to Orthodoxy.

It proved difficult for the new Byzantine Catholic community, known popularly as the "Greek Catholic Church", to obtain in practice the religious and civil rights that had been guaranteed it when the union was consummated. Bishop Ion Inochentie Micu-Klein, head of the church from 1729 to 1751, struggled with great vigor for the rights of the church and of all Romanians within the empire.

The Romanian Greek Catholic dioceses had originally been subordinate to the Latin Hungarian Primate of Esztergóm. But in 1853 Pope Pius IX established a separate metropolitan province for the Greek Catholics in Transylcania. The diocese of Fagaras-Alba Iulia was made metropolitan see, with three suffragan dioceses. Since 1737 the bishops of Fagaras had resided in Blaj, which had become the church's administrative and cultural center.

At the end of World War I, Transylvania was united to Romania, and for the first time Greek Catholics found themselves in a predominately Orthodox state. By 1940 there were five dioceses, over 1,500 priests (90 percent of whom were married), and about 1.5 million faithful.

The establishment of a communist government in Romania after World War II proved disastrous for the Romanian Greek Catholic Church. Om 1 October 1948, 36 Greek Catholic priests met under government pressure at Cluj-Napoca. They voted to terminate the union with Rome and asked for reunion with the Romabnian Orthodox Church. On 21 October it was formally abolished at a ceremony at Alba Iulia. On 1 December 1948, the government passed legislation which dissolved the Greek Catholic Church and gave over most of its property to the Orthodox Church. The six Greek Catholic bishops were arrested on the night of 29-30 December. Five of the six later died in prison. In 1964, the bishop of Cluj-Gherla, Juliu Hossu, was released from prison but placed under house arrest in a monastery, where he died in 1970. Pope Paul VI announced in 1973 that he had made Hossu a cardinal "in pectore" in 1967.

After 41 years underground, the fortunes of the Greek Catholic Church in Romania changed dramatically after the Ceaucescu regime was overthrown in December 1989. On 2 January 1990 the 1948 decree which dissolved the church was abrogated. On 14 March 1990, Pope John Paul II reestablished the hierarchy of the church by appointing bishops for all five dioceses.

There is also a Romanian Catholic diocese in the United States.

As of the end of 1998, there were 1,420,000 members of the Romanian Catholic Church.

-CT (based on Robertson 1995, CE, and AP 2000)

2: Jurisdictions

Fogaras / Fagaras [Rom.-Byz.] - (Ottoman Empire) Romania
Oradea Mare / Nagy-Varad [Rom.-Byz.] (detached from the care of the Latin diocese of Nagy-Varad / Oradea Mare) - (Hungary) Romania
Szamos-Ujvar / Cluj / Klausenburg: a.k.a. Gherla / Armenopoli [Rom.-Byz.] - (detached from the care of the Latin diocese of Nagy-Varad / Oradea Mare) - (Hungary) Romania
Lugoj / Lugos [Rom.-Byz.] (detached from Fagaras [Rom.-Byz.], and from Oradea Mare [Rom.-Byz.]) - (Hungary) Romania
Alba Julia [Rom.-Byz.] (Metr., previously Transilvania, reerected for the Rom.-Byz. by the Pope and immediately united to Fagaras [below]) - (Hungary) Romania
Fagaras and Alba Julia [Rom.-Byz.] (Metr., and new name, previously Fagaras) - (Hungary) Romania
Targul-Siret [Rut.-Byz.] (AA, detached from Stanislawow / Stanislaviv [Rut.-Byz.]) - Romania
Cluj-Gherla [Rom.-Byz.] (new name, previously Gherla / Szamos-Ujvar / Armenopoli) - Romania
Maramures [Rom.-Byz.] (detached from Gherla / Szamos-Ujvar / Armenopoli, and from Fagaras and Alba Julia?, incorporating the Ruthenian Byzantines of AA Targul-Siret - the part of the Ruthenian diocese of Stanislawów which due to border changes had become part of Romania) - Romania
Targul-Siret [Rut.-Byz.] (AA, abolished, incorporated in Maramures [Rom.-Byz.]) - Romania
United States of America [Rom.-Byz] (Ap.Ex.) - USA
Saint George's in Canton [Rom.-Byz.] (new name, previously United States of America Ap.Ex.) - USA
av Webmaster publisert 08.09.2004, sist endret 08.09.2004 - 12:11