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Coordinated by Andreea ZAMFIRA

Civil Society as Its Own Enemy:

The First Romanian Christian-Democratic Attempt[1]

 

Cătălin-Valentin RAIU

University of Bucharest

 

 

Abstract: In this paper, by presenting few political ideas of the bishop of Râmnic Noul-Severin, Bartolomeu Stănescu (1875-1954), I am trying to portray how a social-Christian political vision has failed in the Romanian interwar period. In his case we are rather dealing with a transplantation of a doctrine named „Social Christianity” and defined as an eclectic body of counter-revolutionary ideas implemented with liberal tools and born out of socialist sensibilities. Although important figure in the Romanian Orthodox Church and Senate, moreover as a public promoter of Social Christianity, the failure of his political project gives us the clues to understand why Christian-democracy has never been born in Romania, as for instance in Italy, along with the principles of subsidiarity, anti-statism, democracy, personalism or anti-communism. On the contrary, the political reading of the interwar ecclesiastical debates and events is due to prove that the society was incomplete modernized, eager for paternalism and authoritarianism and mostly under the siege of an organic nationalism which has expelled both liberal and Christian-democratic approaches.

 

Keywords: Bartolomeu Stănescu, subsidiarity, Social Christinity, nation, anti-statism, authoritarianism.

 

 

Called in that epoch the Social-Christian philosopher, the bishop of Râmnic Bartolomeu Stănescu of Râmnicul Noului Severin (1921-1938) was a genuine intellectual preoccupied by the confrontation between political modernity and Christianity, the first artisan of Christian-democracy in the Romanian space. Let us begin by giving some biographic details. He graduated the Faculty of Orthodox Theology of Bucharest (1898-1902), as well as the Faculties of Law and Sociology of the Sorbonne, Paris (1905-1911). Also in the capital of France he begins a doctorate in sociology, under the guidance of Emile Durkheim, but he will not obtain his Ph.D diploma, for he accepted to become a titular archpriest (arhiereu titular) in 1912. In his country he begins to teach theology at the university in 1914, and in 1921 he becomes the bishop of the eparchy of Râmnicul Noului Severin, where he will put into practice his totally innovative in the Romanian space social-Christian vision, till 1938 when he is dismissed by King Carol II. Harassed by all Romanian non-democratic political regimes, Bartolomeu Stănescu dies in abiding loneliness in 1954, in the monastery of Bistrița, in the county of Vâlcea. During his public activity and without actually having a programmatic scheme, the hierarch produced a political discourse that impresses with its modernity, authenticity and especially its capacity to detach itself from institutional rigours. Or to put it more overtly, Bartolomeu Stănescu distinguished himself constantly from the ecclesiastic and political mainstream of his times and, for a moment, he was the only Romanian that implemented in Romania Christian democratic ideas and principles.

Was Bartolomeu Stănescu a Christian-democrat at least in a certain period of his public activity? In this chapter we shall analyse this hypothesis considering several independent variables of the hierarch’s discourse, such as the nature of democracy, the human being’s centrality in the political architecture imagined by the bishop, the refusal of state assistentialism, the solidarity principle, social justice and the sense of private property and salary, and in the following chapters we shall analyse the subsidiarity principle in Bartolomeu Stănescu’s thinking, anti-statism and the importance given to the intermediary bodies of society.

 

 

1. ASSUMING DEMOCRACY

 

The Romanian Social Christians, in fact like the great majority of their European inspirers, do not consider that compatibility between democracy and Christianity can be possible[2], in the sense that a democratic regime does not accommodate to the organisation of the Orthodox Church, an order specific rather to aristocracy than to democracy:

 

“Its constitution (A/N of the Church) is an oligarchic, aristocratic – according to Montesquieu’s words, -republican one, for it is directed by a body of bishops or by the holy synod which is the supreme authority in matters of faith”.[3]

 

Bartolomeu Stănescu does not keep aloof from Irineu Mihălcescu and does not try to demonstrate the compatibility between the synodality of the Church and the people’s sovereignty identified with democracy, he is rather interested in the relationship between the state and society, the structure of rights and obligations and the attempt of rounding them off with a rationality inspired by Christian theology. To test the hypothesis according to which the bishop Bartolomeu Stănescu was a Christian-democrat, we have first to understand his viewpoint on the nature of democracy as political regime. Thus, democracy, in its modern form, is not possible in the absence of the distinction between individual and society, and one of its main purposes was to free the human being from the patronage and tyranny of the state:

 

“Therefore now that thanks to social sciences the second human being, namely society, has finally been discovered, Christianity has to deal with it too, at least as much as it has dealt with the individual, when it had to emancipate the individual from the tyranny of the State”.[4]

 

In spite of all this, to remove the individual from the almightiness of monarchies achieves but half of the virtual fruit of modernity, a reality “[…] imposed to people today also by the experiences their forerunners had long since used as ancient feudal authority, as bourgeois liberty and as proletarian Communism, which proved unable to satisfy to each individual all his bodily, intellectual and spiritual needs[5].

Consequently, besides being a mere political regime, pertaining actually to modernity, democracy has to be a social reality, a philosophical reflection, an equilibrium between, on the one hand, liberty and the rights of the citizens and, on the other hand, the authority and the duties of the institutions which enforce the order, and not just a simple translation of some forms without substance as the Romanian case stands:

 

“Today the work of emancipating the individual is already achieved and guaranteed by the Constitutions that defend his public, political and civil rights. Now it is high time the second work began, i.e. the consolidation of authority and the clarification of the services of society with the individual”.[6]

 

Additionally, democracy cannot appear overnight, as it is a political regime which needs certain essential preconditions and several generations are necessary for it to bear fruit, a state of facts yet uncongenial to the great majority of European countries: “Both the attempts and the pretences to completely monopolise people’s lives, even the authority of the state, as in the West, and the total absenteeism from the public and secular life of peoples, as among the Orthodox, are likewise unsuited to the earthly mission of this Church”[7], a Church whose final goal is to institute the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts, minds and actions of people, seen both as private beings, and as communities. Consequently, liberal-like modernity as for instance the state of law, the assertion of the individual, aspiring politically towards democracy must be completed with the Gospel: “Reason must be complemented by the Gospel and teachings of the Cross, and natural right must complete divine right”[8], which means that in the absence of Christianity and of the centrality of the Church in society any form of modern democracy is impossible, with the exception of far-left ideologies that claim a democratic filiation:

 

Gentlemen, unlike some of you, I am not willing to pretend these are democratic principles, as this word comprises meanings and a state of facts which can jeopardise humankind […] Today socialism and bolshevism call themselves democratic, nonetheless you know only too well that a social poison contains especially the latter of these two comrades”.[9]

 

At the same time, democracy means the centrality of Christianity in the life of nations and not necessarily of Churches, though it is impossible that a society be imbued with Christianity in the absence of a strong Church, be it established as in Great Britain, or disestablished as in the United States of America. Bartolomeu Stănescu suggests however that it is not the Church-institution, endowed with a certain social and even political authority that builds democracy, it is her message which permeates the consciousness of communities of people:

 

“The brotherhood of people made by Christianity does not ensue from the law of the state, which does not create, but merely sanctions certain social principles and methods, and stems from the consciousness and the heart, which are the real creative and regulating powers among men”.[10]

 

         Therefore, society is free as regards the establishment of social and political consensus, and the state only notes it: “Democratic laws should not be enforced through commandments; they should pervade more through the adhesion to them of the liberty and dignity pampered people”[11]. However, civil, social and political liberties which “[…] especially almost everywhere in Europe became the sacred attribute of civilised nations”[12] should be rounded off with a soul:

 

“We, the religious men in the Senate, we occupy ourselves above all with the soul; and we believe it is natural and good to do it with you, for this time the evolution of life led us willy nilly to democracy, where we are first of all required to have a soul. Without a soul, the democracy we are asked to live has no foundation and is harmful, since it brands matter and instincts, dictates to the soul and kneels human nobility”.[13]

 

At the same time, modernity has to bring about a reform in religious life too, especially if the divine-human institution wants to have a certain social relevance, assumed by Bartolomeu Stănescu through Social Christianity. In this respect, but chiefly because of the ontological quasi-synonymy between Christianity and democracy, the Romanian Orthodox Church should open herself to democracy, not by changing its canons, but by carrying out an administrative reform, mainly as far as the hierarches’ behaviour towards their priests is concerned: “The sacerdotal autonomy, as discretionary power of the bishop, is not in tune with the democratic spirit, on the contrary, the two of them will always quarrel”[14].

The quasi-synonymy between Christianity and democracy makes Bartolomeu Stănescu view the democratic regime as a reality encompassing not only the political domain, but also the social and economic zone. The only definition of democracy he formulated in the public space is destined to reduce democracy to the subsidiarity principle, equality of chances, the human person’s right to bring one’s personality to the fore, but also the obligation of the state to make this really happen. Simultaneously, democracy cannot be associated with Russian communism for it is characterised by a certain dose of elitism which the political body itself cannot secure. The definition of democracy given on the occasion of his intervention during the debates in the Senate on the Education Act is the more important as it is not part of the probably written text of his discourse, being a spontaneous retort addressed to a question asked by another senator:

 

“M.P. Dobrescu: What is democracy?

His Grace the bishop of Râmnicul-Vâlcea: The right of each individual that is brought into the world of making the most of his/her forces, talents and aspirations of bettering one’s soul, not only through personal efforts, which, happening to be feeble, are entitled to benefit of the support and aid of one’s peers and of the entire human society, just as Jesus recommended.

M.P. Dobrescu: But this is democracy, father.

His Grace the bishop of Râmnicul-Vâlcea: Indeed, but bolshevism too seeks to pass for democracy. [...]

M.P. Dobrescu: But yours is an extraordinary theory.

Mr Paul Bujor: Are you not originally a commoner? After all you are the son of a peasant!

His Grace the bishop of Râmnicul-Vâlcea: That is quite right, I am a commoner, but I worked hard and I acquired a certain competence. And in my duties I do not intend to make use mainly of number, but mainly of competence.

[...]

His Grace the bishop of Râmnicul-Vâlcea: This time competence is used in the broadest way; and the number of which misinterpreted democracy makes such a fuss is used in this law to enhance competence, as, gentlemen, solely with the power of number, on which misinterpreted democracy rests, we shall never accomplish anything”[15].

 

Consequently, in order to be viable, any form of democracy should exclude those elements specific to 19th century French revolutionarism, which proved to be contrary to Christianity, such as the idea of liberty in whose name many crimes were committed, or the anonymisation of the human person among the huge masses of proletarians:

 

Let us deprive democracy of its fraternity and let us leave it to the Church, for this virtue was never more terribly close than to the democracy of the French Revolution, when the revolutionaries killed not only thousands of compatriots, aristocrats and ecclesiasts, but they guillotined each other as no species of beast does on the face of the earth”.[16]

 

It was difficult to speak in that epoch of the complete and effective assumption of democracy, just as it was hard to speak about the separation of the Church from the state, given that they were commonly associated with Russian bolshevism, which, as a neighbour of Romania, was considered by the contemporaries as a real threat of contamination. Thus, the bishop’s concern was to delimit ideal democracy from the failure of certain regimes pretending to stem from democracy, and also to find the decisive ingredient able to build democracy.

Bartolomeu Stănescu was not a philosopher to remain rooted in the traps of philosophy or to find himself in the embarrassing situation of not being able to express his ideas without giving examples. A proof in this respect is his manner of explaining his vision on genuine democracy which is applied in only two Western countries. Thus, in the United States of America and Great Britain democracy is more than a mere political ideology, it is a concrete reality that meets the requirements of the positive aspects brought about by modernity[17], as well as the requirements of Christianity, given that both “[…] the English and the American peoples shine through their religiosity”[18].

Although Bartolomeu Stănescu identifies the presence of an evangelical inspired democracy in both American and British nations, he seems inclined to admire more the American model, where Churches have always been disestablished:

 

Luckily it is a country where life tends uninterruptedly to identify itself with the Gospel, where the very basis of life is the Gospel itself, and this country is America […]. The state and the federation itself are organised on Christian bases, but the clergy was almost all along the leading element of political achievements in America. Moreover, if we have a look at the Americans’ individual and chiefly social deeds we shall discover there unmistakably the spiritual man. Though divided in different dogmas and rites, faith is there strong and linked to Jesus, so that we see their dollars help their brothers in faith, with the intention that each and every cult conquer the world and turn it into a flock and a shepherd. And as for personal abstinence, the Americans are puritans; […] To think that they prohibited alcohol by law shows clearly they have this propensity towards abstinence. But it is the social-based love they have for their fellow creatures, their self-denial, that best illustrates how inoculated they are with the Gospel of Jesus. […] with the principle of authority connected with the principle of liberty, constituting thereby the driving force in all the fields, be they social, political and cultural, etc. Why is this combination so good? Because if left alone, authority becomes tyranny, and liberty left alone become license. Just as God combined light with darkness to give us the day, likewise authority should intermingle with liberty in order to have a good social governance. Hence America has the organisation and the state of affairs that can form the spiritual man so that he might work with them”.[19]

 

The American political and social architecture is the result of puritanism, which, through the covenant theology[20], underlies America’s federalism, itself begotten by Christian minds:

 

I cite herein some persons in whom this instinct appeared Christianly through the works produced by Him in their minds and souls. In North America between 1781 and 1789 two of these persons were George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, who put their lives at stake and supported each other like brothers to unite the 13 republics existing at that time. Washington was the inspirer, the guide and the soul conqueror in order to give these quarrelling republics a political unity. And Hamilton was their constructor or their social and political architect […] Before Carnegie North America had Washington and Hamilton as political energies, who gave these 13 republics the Constitution of the United States of America, in 1787, during a congress held in Philadelphia [...]. Seeing they would not agree, he kept the tension high all the way during his six hour speech which made them work for three months at the said convention. So however political this Convention might be, it was engrafted with Christian moral, not only because it put an end to the quarrels and brawls of these republics, but also through their federal support, which continued and continues even today to exert itself in the most peaceful and the most brotherly manner. They were followed by Mac Kinley, who opened the economic frontiers for the United States. The current President Roosevelt has proven to be very much like these three afore mentioned men”.[21]

 

If the key of the American democratic political formula, in which the Church was disestablished by the Constitution, was, though not explicitly named, the covenant theology, in England’s case the success of democracy is given by local traditions, among which having an established Church seems to be the most important of all. Thus, Bartolomeu Stănescu admires the centrality of the Church in the public space, both in Great Britain’s and in the Jewish cases, which are in total antithesis with nations that put reason above faith:

 

“In London, for instance, on a Sunday, you will see that all industrial and commercial enterprises are closed, along with cinemas and theatres; and only the temples are opened; and their religious sermons too get out in the street, where the preachers speak to passers-by. Until the present day, England did not secularise almost anything of the social power of her Church, for even today weddings in the English rite are as valid in the English state as the marriage performed by the registrar. Even nowadays religious wedding produces in this civilised people the same civil effects as a civil wedding; and it is even more desirable than this one [...] Therefore you can see how deprived is the English people of the religion which has forged the virtues of its race, of the religion which has formed its compact social mass, of the religion which has created and is still creating the energies of life, and of the Church they moulded into organisation and dogma during the years; but without prejudicing the vigour of its religious element, but only to nationalise it even more [...] Behold what faith can do! It indents the soul with energies, competent people in all domains, in agriculture, in industry, in commerce can use to adapt the individual as soon as possible, as safely and as conscientiously as possible to this sort of occupations”.[22]

 

Accordingly, be it a laymen’s Christianity as it is the case in the United States of America, where “the Christian moral[23] [...] pertains not to the Clergy, divided by heresies, but to the lay Christians, who preserved the Christian moral untainted”[24], or be it a protected by the state Church, as in Britain, the merging of Christianity with democracy can be seen in the associative spirit of the citizens, in national educational systems, or in the public servants’ liability before the laws:

 

In British countries, says Valentin Brifant, a counsellor of law at the Court of Appeal in Brussels,[...] the liberty of association, to refer only to this one, has always been more flourishing than in continental Europe, where the ancient Roman right preserved its prominence almost exclusively [...] in England, the ancient adage «state in state» whose mystifying meaning always made our law makers shiver, engendered no fright in these countries. [...] On the contrary, in the United States freedom of association is complete, regardless of creed or goal; religious associations, scientific associations, recreation associations, educational, charity associations, etc. have all the liberty to organise, to make frequently quite substantial fortunes, to legislate and to govern within their respective attributions”.[25]

 

Hence, “the democratism of Christianity brought about the equality before the law”[26], which means that the exigencies of democracy should be the rule of law, in other words the lack of hazard and arbitrary, and the centrality of the human person, whose rights and liberties should prevail over the state:

 

Two centuries ago, through Christianity and the American and the French revolutions humankind won and consolidated almost entirely all the rights of man and of the citizen. Afterwards modern civilisation adopted these rights regarding them as a sacred and inviolable patrimony of all humankind resting them on both human nature, to which these rights are naturally attached, and on the modern legal regime, which leads today all the cultivated peoples of the world”.[27]

 

According to the typology of the political scientist Daniel Barbu who distinguishes two types of rule of law, Bartolomeu Stănescu is for the time being in keeping with a rather democratic option. Thus, the first type of rule of law makes theoretically use of the state conceived by Hobbes, which appears as a democratic option and is the result of the free and consensual union of individuals obeying a bottom-up structured political power, and enjoying the plenitude of natural law. A second type, fruit of Hegel’s thought, corresponds to an objective existence of the state, takes the “historic form of the spirit of a nation”[28], is independent of the citizens, establishes the law which no longer precedes, but succeeds the state and which rests on the majority’s faith in the historic legitimacy of the state, and in which the power is organised from top to bottom.

Formulating the exigencies of democracy, the hierarch argues that the state precedes the individuals, is their subject and derives its rights and obligations from the will of the citizens. But as we shall see in the following chapters, the hierarch’s vision will suffer a radical change after 1930, when the state will be imagined as an embodiment of the monarch’s will, and as unique source of the law. Yet in both hypostases, although completely different and even opposite, Christianity continues to occupy a central place due to its specific reflection on the human being as sole sacred reality in the universe, with the exception of God: “Christianity [...] placed God, the family and human individuality above one’s motherland”[29]. But even if the Christian creed stipulated all this in its holly texts, it is modernity that actually opened the way and put the sacredness of the human person into practice through the assertion of the rights of man and of the citizen: “the sacralisation of human personality and of its close institutions. It is for this sacralisation, gentlemen, that our ancestors fought, to it did they sacrifice their assets, and even their lives, until they succeeded to assert and secure it through the chart of the rights of man and of the citizen”[30]. Thus, the target of the democracy imagined by Bartolomeu Stănescu is a solidarity inspired once more by Christianity:

 

From the principle on which Christian hierarchy is organised two things result: 1) justice or equality before the laws and 2) the commitment to charity, i.e. the strong shall help and shall sacrifice themselves for the weak. When combined, justice and charity give birth to solidarity, a new phrase in both legal and social sciences of today”.[31]

 

 

2. SOLIDARITY

 

Solidarity is the social and political formula which opposes to both socialist syndicalism and liberalism which did not count social justice among its major objectives. Accordingly, solidarity is that establishment where people are not powerful or humble by predestination, but only due to the natural differences between their own forces, and in which evangelical fraternity is ensured through mercy, in other words through the love and sacrifices of the mighty for the feeble, and of the feeble for the mighty”[32].

Solidarity being the major theme of the Group of Christian-Social Studies Solidaritatea, several of its members contributed with studies and articles. One of them, Șerban Ionescu, seems prone to view solidarity rather as the settlement of the conflict between social classes:

 

The principle of human dignity introduced by Christianity was achieved in the family through the equality between spouses. The same principle transplanted in society accomplished in the political sphere the participation of the citizens of all social classes in the government and organisation of the state. In the economic field it dealt with labour productivity and the imbalance of the factors of production, as well as with the struggle against the exploitation of man [...]. In the social domain it aimed to level the tense situations and differences existing between social classes, and to further the equality before the laws, from the legal standpoint, by imposing the same rights and obligations to all citizens”.[33]

 

On the other hand, Bartolomeu Stănescu understands solidarity as a space where individual rights and liberties are safeguarded, and especially as a social reality that opens anew to man the gate to the Kingdom of Heaven, since human solidarity and justice remain however imperfect forms for the human being as image of God:

 

Therefore justice catches everybody in its framework as regulator of life, by defending his/her liberty, dignity and right, so that he/she might be, by wholly disposing of one’s self, the image of God on earth. By circumscribing man in this manner within his limits, justice unites with faith and the moral of life through that element of morality, which is called equity, and which justice comprises in its norms and tendencies, as a compass and a goal to be accomplished. The only frame of life that escapes to justice itself is the frame of faith, more precisely the divine relation between man and his soul”.[34]

 

But aside from theologically formulating solidarity, Bartolomeu Stănescu seizes the opportunity of exposing it in the Senate also from the social, economic and political viewpoint. Thus, our bishop proposes an over taxation of inheritances[35] and the introduction of progressive taxation, since inheritances have a bad influence on the person who makes a fortune without caring about the needs of the people around him/her, therefore without supporting the common weal, as well as on the offsprings, as heirs who are encouraged not to contribute to the common good, and who need not work, not even for themselves:

 

The moral influence of inheritances in the manner we possess them is utterly disastrous, for, on the one hand, they accrue the selfishness of the person who gathers them and destroy his altruism, and, on the other hand, they deplete the work capacity and the mood for life of the person who inherits them”.[36]

 

Bartolomeu Stănescu’s views on the citizens’ forms of participation in the common weal which finds its expression in solidarity commences from the Christian creed, according to which by its nature fortune is neither good nor bad[37], but it acquires a moral sense in accordance with the way it is used. That is the reason why the bishop does not hesitate to delimit himself from socialism: “So you see I do not speak as a socialist, but from the viewpoint of moral and social realities which we have to take into account when legislating”.[38]

 

 

3. ANTI-ASSISTENTIALISM

 

The bishop’s formula of Christian democracy contains a strong touch of anti-assistentialism. Among other attributions, the state has to secure the happiness of its citizens, but it has not the obligation to procure the goods necessary for living, a fact that would violate the freedom of action of the citizens. Consequently, by turning their personality to good account, by enjoying the freedom of a market circumscribed to a clearly and strictly defined by the state zone, by benefiting of an impartial justice and by having the possibility to associate, the citizens need not resort to the assistentialism of the state:

 

“As instrument of order and support to all its citizens, the state is compelled to take care of their existence, as well as of the nation’s existence, and to re-establish in the economic field not the equality, but the possibility for all the people to live, work, and earn, by expropriating from where there is plenty in order to give where there is nothing. This legally legitimated conception of restoring the economic equilibrium means the right to exist, a right which belongs to anybody who comes into the world, and the public power has the obligation to secure it”.[39]

 

Although it is not a right holder but with the consent of the citizens, the state must not assume the production of weal, it has just to facilitate the citizens’ access to prosperity. At the same time, when through its natural mechanisms (philanthropic associations, the Church, private charity, etc.), society cannot assure a decent life to all human beings, the state is compelled to intervene. However, in order to prevent people from being tempted to expect to get everything from the state, the bishop repeatedly solicited that the compulsoriness of work be introduced[40] in the very text of the fundamental law:

 

I see that the freedom to work has been guaranteed. Still this does not mean that the freedom to be idle is also guaranteed. The freedom to work is guaranteed by the public power, so that no one be hindered to choose any profession he/she prefers; so that no one be oppressed in his/her work engagement; and not to escape from work and proclaim our sloth sacred and inviolable. [...] the freedom to work is guaranteed to those who work, and everybody should join their ranks, and profit of the protection of the Romanian State; and who should not profit in the bosom of the Romanian people of the toil of those who work, and without whom they could not live. Along with the freedom and compulsoriness of work, I think the state should recognise itself under the obligation of the present Constitution of inoculating to its inhabitants a special competence for any kind of occupation, commencing with handicrafts, agriculture, etc., and ending as today with universities, in the case of intellectual occupations”.[41]

 

4. EVANGELIC DEMOCRACY

 

Leaving aside for the time being the anti-statist dimension and that of the intermediary bodies of society, the democracy of evangelic inspiration imagined by Bartolomeu Stănescu as the ideal political regime starts from the centrality of the needs of conservation and completion of the individual’s life, as incentive of the entire social body’s progress:

 

“Hence, our economic life shall have to develop in such a way so that each individual, be he valid or invalid, each institution, be it old or new, find their existence and their capacity to evolve through their own produce; and so that those entitled and responsible of social life find thanks to this produce of our economy the means to fully satisfy all our cultural needs, from whose capitalisation we expect the utmost and the paramount force of our nation”.[42]

 

Another transposition of the specifically Christian-democratic principle of subsidiarity present in Bartolomeu Stănescu’s discourse resides in the description of school as an auxiliary of the family, a discourse that he pronounced in 1924, when the Education Act was discussed. On this occasion, the bishop took a public stand against compelling children to go to kindergarten arguing that it is a practice, which corresponds to the pedagogical theory of the German Friedrich Fröebel, stemming from socialism. He rested his innovations in matters of pedagogy on researches conducted in working class districts where parents used to send their children to the kindergarten because they spent most of their time at work[43], a social situation that was not at all frequent in the Kingdom of Romania.

Consequently, for evangelic democracy to be functional it is necessary to have a highly respected by the society Church, but even more important than that it is necessary to have the tradition of exerting rights and liberties. But among the Romanian people, where not even the specific interior gist is stimulated, because “for some time now our nation’s creative energies are at rest”[44], liberties seem to have never been born:

 

We live in total falsehood, i.e. in a social life regime in which, according to inscriptions and doctrines, authority is limited and placed under the control of civil liberty, but where liberty, with the exception of the political vote, is deprived of any means of assertion and fulfilment of its duties as social, new and fundamental factor. Hence the satrapical authoritarianism of our public bureaus, left because of the disorganisation of liberty with no legal liability towards the citizens even when they are abused because of the clerks’ incompetence or sloth; [...] the assertion on any occasion of this rotten authoritarianism, dangerous to public education, through which our bureaus strive to repair the otherwise Platonic losses, caused by modern constitutions, to the escorting authority of Roman law; hence the rapid discredit of our public authority, which the spirit of liberty of the modern civilisation we live in can no longer tolerate, not even in Romania, under its antiquated forms; and hence too, the spread of anarchy under all its shapes, be they big or small, engendered by a compromised authority and a disorganised liberty, such as we can find in our Romania”.[45]

 

Accordingly, evangelic democracy should rely on the few positive characteristics specific to the Romanian people, which should be potentiated by the personal or collective exercise of liberty:

 

Whereas we, the Romanians, who did not enhance our selfishness, long since superposed on our ancestral altruism, not even with competence in enterprises of personal interest, nor with the knowledge of physical and social environments, for the benefit of the affairs we attend to… but solely with an insatiable desire for wealth, we are the classical model of torment, which we inflict ourselves on our persons, as all sorts of social and individual squalidity, through the power and the certain fruit of our selfishness, unpolished by Western ways”.[46]

 

Bartolomeu Stănescu’s Christian democratic sensibilities resemble those of the group of agrarian thinkers who distinguished themselves in the 1940s: “For the sake of social order the modern state sacrifices the person of the individual, gives the individual the universal suffrage, equality of rights, the freedom of speech, but throws away the insulated, emptied person, with no social reinforcement to support and defend it”[47]. The state plays the role of a protector, not of a tyrant, it guarantees, rather than suppresses the liberty of the person. The liberty of the person imposes itself due to its quality of innate, natural right, while the evangelic message is positively favourable to liberty. Equality pertains only to the moral field, it has no social counterpart, and people are not reducible to one another[48]. Still there are also Christian Social voices that interpret democracy in a strictly nationalist key[49], a position that will be embraced by the bishop too, after 1930.

The democracy imagined by bishop Bartolomeu Stănescu differs from liberal democracy in the sense that the centrality of the regime is represented by the truth revealed by the Christian creed. According to Social Christian logic, the revelation expressed in policies is meant to keep the evangelic truth above the liberal public opinion, a path assumed by our bishop especially after 1930:

 

Unlike liberal democracy, Christian democracy has a hierarchic dimension: to convey the gift of truth time and again, to preserve a non-democratic educational space preoccupied rather to find the truth than to decipher the opinion of the majority. But for this sphere democracy cannot discover the truth, nonetheless it will always be influenced by propaganda: mass representation will always represent itself and not the represented too. Thus, Christian democracy has to be also Christian socialism”.[50]

 

In his turn, the political scientist Marcel Gauchet observes the difference between liberal democracies and those inspired by Christianity according to the trajectory assumed by both of them. Thus, whereas liberal democracy creates the conditions of an unprecedented expansion of the state, which becomes part and parcel of the social mechanism[51], Social Christianity, as a source of Christian democracy, is rather interested in recomposing civil society which it wants entirely organised in all sorts of groups:

 

“Civil society manifests itself less and less under the form of organised segments acting precisely by virtue of their share as independent and self-consistent social blocks (as it was for a long time the case in France, for example, of the catholic confessional block). In a profound sense, the social movement becomes the individuals’ movement”.[52]

 

 

5. TYPOLOGIES OF DEMOCRACIES

     INSPIRED BY CHRISTIANITY

 

Thus, the formula of the democracy imagined by the hierarch, called by himself evangelic, due to the fact that its source professed by Bartolomeu Stănescu is the Gospel itself and especially in order to avoid its being mistaken for Christian democracy with which it does not superpose exactly, is characterised by the centrality of the human being, subsidiarity, solidarity, the concern for the natural communities of society and the primordiality of the human being over the state.

In spite of the numerous attempts of democratisation that populated the public space in the interwar period, the authoritarian political formulas dominated not only at the level of political projects, but also at intellectual and even academic levels. That being the case, Bartolomeu Stănescu may be included in both the afore-mentioned categories, just as his friend Mihail Manoilescu, who was one of the most cited and influential Romanians in the interwar international academic milieu. Mihail Manoilescu succeeded to create a sheer corporatist current which nurtured not only the European, but also the Romanian professors who sought to bring again to the attention of public opinion elements of the traditional Romanian corporatism[53], iron-guardists and even the King Carol II. Thus, on the background of anti-democratism and of the royal anti-parliamentarism, the second half of the interwar period is dominated by a complicity of several social, academic, political, economic and even religious groups, who view the guilds as genuine spaces of Romanians’ weal, especially through their anti-Semite dimension[54]. Mihail Manoilescu goes so far as to consider that the Church herself is the very prototype of corporation, as it is older than the state, equal with the state in the sense of functional, organisational and procedural self-sufficiency. In his opinion, the Church is the model corporation, for if demonstrated it has a life of its own, without having to borrow rules and institutions from outside its sphere[55].

A similar complicity accompanies the reflection on democracy too, abandoned after the enthusiasm of the 1920s and transformed into an “oligarchy of the aristocracy”[56] or into what Juan Linz calls organic democracy:

 

The theoreticians of organic democracies stress the fact that people are naturally members of many groups of social relations, employment, professional associations, universities, districts, parishes, etc., in contrast with artificially created larger groups, such as political parties, which divide people […] why shouldn’t we organise political representation on the basis of primary unities?”.[57]

 

In his turn, Raymond Aron calls these regimes – in which the requirements of democracy do not superpose over a tradition of parliamentarian practice – pluralist, constitutional, though oligarchic, regimes[58]. Therefore, although we find elements of corporatism, of representation and institutionalisation of interests, especially economic and occupational interests, in all political systems, democracies like the Romanian interwar democracy passed quite quickly to corporatism, the idea of ethical and ethnic state, of exacerbated nationalism, going back to tradition, yet gazing at the future. In this respect, the case of Bartolomeu Stănescu can offer us a few clues about the failure of the Romanian interwar democracy in general, and especially about the failure of the evangelic democracy formulated by our hierarch.

For the Oltenian bishop modernity is not merely the golden age of humankind, it is also his own golden age, the chance to put into practice genuine Christianity, uncorrupted by the political doctrines of the divine right, and in which the human being finds fulfilment in the earthly order through rights and duties. At the same time, modernity is that epoch in which natural right and the evangelic message become congruent, in which society as entity separated from the individual is born, and along with it the human person becomes not only a subject of the earthly world in general, but also a political subject.

Inspired by both social Christianity and Durkheimian sociology, Bartolomeu Stănescu presents a reflection meant to change the political subject of modernity[59], refusing most firmly to identify it with the society which tends to proletarianise as in communism, and trying to put on the citizen as liberal political subject the armour of natural communities and professional corporations. That being so, his reflection includes the subsidiarity principle, anti-statism, noting that it turns into a professional and bureaucratic corporatism, the centrality of human being in social structures, the dignity of the person, the sacredness of life, as well as solidarity. Although the bishop assumes the democracy conceived by him as being an evangelic one, and therefore he never utters the Christian democratic phrase, we conjecture that he tried, not only at the level of the discourse, to initiate a project of Christian democracy in interwar Romania. In this respect, besides the activity of the Group of Studies and of the journal Solidaritatea, of the Priestly Society Renașterea, etc., we shall further the analysis of Bartolomeu Stănescu’s political discourse, but we shall also try to detect the causes why the hierarch’s Christian democratic project was not a success in the interwar period.

Bartolomeu Stănescu does not explicitly assume a project of Christian democracy, but he claims his thought to be inspired from and legitimates it through Social Christianity as a source of European Christian democracy, especially through Marc Sangnier in France and through the concern for democracy as the best possible political regime, not only in modern times, but of all times. Of the three protagonists of the Social Christian movement, to which the bishop claims to belong, Albert de Mun cannot be considered a Christian-democrat, Tour du Pin is a dogmatic corporatist, while the only one who approaches a democratic formula is Léon Harmel. Bartolomeu Stănescu cites Marc Sangnier as being a democrat, but does not present him explicitly as a source of his reflection. At the same time, the bishop places himself on the field of political philosophy and political theory, where he endeavours to demonstrate the consonance between democracy and Christianity and not on the field of public policies specific to Christian-democracy. Thus, with the help of Christian-democracy Bartlomeu Stănescu identifies the points Christianity shares in common with democracy, such as natural rights, Christian individualism, the separation of state and society, the concern for the natural communities of the human being, common good, etc., in an approach asserted also by one of the fathers of European Christian democracy, Jacques Maritain: “The more the political body is attached to the values of the Evangel, the more attached it is to the values of democracy, not because it is thus ordered by the state, but because it is only natural to be so”.[60]

 

 

 

 

6. SUBSIDIARITY

 

From one end to the other of his reflection, the bishop asserts some principles specific to Christian democracy, which he never abandoned. We have in mind now the principle of subsidiarity[61], a rare reflection in the Romanian intellectual space:

 

The Church sanctifies and fights herself for the right of each and every individual that comes into the world to make the best of his/her forces and talents, advising however everybody not to infringe on someone else’s rights. This is the democracy I fight for. Democracy is the right of each individual that is brought into the world of making the most of his/her forces, talents and aspirations of bettering one’s soul, not only through personal efforts, which, happening to be feeble, are entitled to benefit of the support and aid of one’s peers and of the entire human society, just as Jesus recommended”.[62]

 

Subsidiarity turns then into a fear of the increasingly greater power of the state and into an anti-statism meant to express the primordiality of civil society over the state in a given order of rights: “The state itself, with all its powers, debases itself if it is not counterbalanced, as is the case of the Church, for instance. The Church can likewise get corrupted if it is not counterbalanced by another institution, such as the state, for example”.[63] One of Bartolomeu Stănescu’s major concerns is to ensure that the state will not be able to interfere on the field of the assertion of the citizens’ natural rights; therefore he focuses all his attention on the way citizenship is devised by the superposition of several layers consisting of social and political rights. His perspective is consonant with the long and difficult construction of Western democracy: In Western democracies the citizen is the result of the accumulation of political and legal practices and guarantees. Positive political or social rights, whatever they might be, cannot be acquired unless beforehand negative liberties have already become a reality”[64].

By contrast, his professor Émile Durkheim, who cannot be suspected of Christian democracy, argued that, on the contrary, the state is the one, which promotes the citizens’ natural rights and establishes their limits:

 

The state is the that creates and organises and makes a reality these rights. And indeed, man is a man only because he lives in society. Take away from man all that has a social origin and nothing is left but an animal on a par with other animals. It is society that has raised him to this level above physical nature: it has achived this result because association, by grouping individual physical forces, intensifies them”.[65]

Durkheim sheds light on democracy only at the level of its functioning, so that democracy corresponds to the need of moralisation of society, for individuals accept laws less passively[66] and because in democracy man takes directly part in decision making. Thus, in Durkheim’s view, democracy is that “[…] political system by which the society can achive a consciousness of itself in its purest form. The more that deliberation and reflection and the critical spirit play a considerable part in the course of public affairs, the more democratic is that nation”[67]. Nonetheless, democracy is helpless without secondary social staff and groups that free the state from citizens and the citizens from the state.

However, for Bartolomeu Stănescu's democracy is rather a zone of manifestation of early Christianity. Hence, even during his antidemocratic period, the bishop does not choose his examples from European corporatisms rooted in Catholicism; he seeks his examples in the two countries where evangelic democracy has triumphed:

 

Carnegie’s and Rockefeller’s example who gave 730 billion of francs in order to build up foundations, among which we may quote the Pasteur institute, to which he contributed 55.000 francs, will be for Christian individuals models to follow. Of these five total inner and social states, and of all the public and private institutions of Christian peoples, the Christian clergy possesses the surest means to be used and the most powerful levers to sustain it in its pastoral mission in eparchies and parishes”.[68]

 

The bishop observes that democracy is in danger because it does not create good leaders able to imbue the political body with a unitary creed[69], in other words it lacks the elitism specific to conservatories and it relies on the fact that if left alone the people are unable to govern themselves. Moreover, democracy failed to produce morality in society, in the sense that if medieval man was a spiritual man, modernity created a homo oeconomicus, a man subject to the flesh, prone to lies, hatred, treason, theft, crime and tempted by sexual debauchery, aspects that precisely the authoritarian European regimes endeavour to better:

 

The proof of these deficiencies is offered by the peoples of Europe, divided in the democratic ones, rooted in liberty, equality and fraternity, and authoritarian peoples rooted in force. The two Americas are part of the democratic peoples. The result of this division can be seen in the triumph of authoritarian peoples, as well as in the stagnation of the democratic ones, where socialism, communism and anarchy are pullulating”.[70]

 

Consequently, though democracy should have triumphed, consensus and social unit are much more visible in countries with authoritarian regimes, where work is elevate to the statute of mandatory social virtue. Thus, the necessity to create a moral man requires that work be the one which structures society and not the placement of rights in a social and political formula. Bartolomeu Stănescu has again in mind the old regime, which, relying on political and religious authority, succeeded to satisfy the commandments of Christian morality, which societies cannot attain spontaneously in democracy. Consequently, the great majority of European and Romanian social Christians have in common the predilection for social hierarchy, government exerted by those possessing this capacity, centrality of moral, etc.[71]

 

 

7. FROM CHRISTIAN DEMOCRACY TO AUTHORITARIANISM

 

For Bartolomeu Stănescu, from the “organised legal common effort [and] the servant who gives orders”[72], thus the state, becomes an “academy of tested competences”[73], in other words, it becomes a dominant state, guarantor of the organic community, head of the economy, reflecting a sole undivided will, quite like a God[74]. After the national reunification of 1918, the Romanians no longer had any major objective to reach, fought for nothing more, which means that democracy did not succeed to inflame the energies of society:

 

All these energies meant to strengthen our social body are now channelled into our individual personality, where, by bringing a surplus of forces, incite us toward a negative activity, that is to say they arouse in us various passions, the first of them being the strong desire for better living, greed, etc. [...] energies are not given by God to be mere means of human selfishness, they are also meant to be means of the social body, for the constitution of social beings in general, viz. of institutions and nations. That is why we have to give to our surplus of national energy a new superior objective, able to unify, invigorate and guide them towards good. Gentlemen, fortunately, in our earthly lives we still have two vast and powerful objectives that touch the energies of our nation, to wit we still have the economic objective and the cultural objective”.[75]

 

Although democracy is good in itself, but especially when a soul comes to complete it, in the Oltenian bishop’s viewpoint democracy contains, at least latently, the mysticism of egalitarianism which was successfully exploited by the communist regime in Russia:

 

Frequently, the subconscious of masses can be exploited for the happiness in this life, here, on earth, that is to say for political and social issues, created by speculators who endow them with a mystifying power, by promising that with their methods we are sure to wholly and in no time obtain earthly happiness. Didn’t the Bolsheviks act likewise?”.[76]

 

An extremely important reason for giving up the bishop’s democratic project is the fear that too much liberty offered to the Romanians might facilitate their contamination with the political heresy of Russian communism. European Christian democracy assumed the completion of the political democracy begotten by the French Revolution with a social and economic democracy, in the sense that secondary communities help the people who are in need, and the state intervenes subsidiarily only when communities fail to do it properly[77].

At the same time, Industrial Revolution created prosperity for a small category of people, while the majority was in a state of salaried slavery, which led to the apparition of socialism and Marxism, which do not mean peoples’ rule, but the replacement of capitalists’ tyranny with the dictatorship of the state. Thus, the way assumed by Christian democracy is situated between socialism and liberalism, between justice and liberty, which presumed the assumption of a community and Christian individualism, in the sense that the human being is more important than society as a whole, and the state should be permanently kept under observation, because it tends to insert itself in all the spheres of society. Democracy is by definition a political regime that lives only in the present and seeks neither “a bright future” as communism does[78], nor the purity of the race as Nazism did:

 

The democratic-bureaucratic state progresses gradually as it discards all prescriptive views on the future and as it enhances its representative openness to the dynamic multitude of aspirations and initiatives of its administered ones”[79].

 

Hence, although democracy does not promise tomorrow’s good, but rather the avoidance of today’s evil, Bartolomeu Stănescu has this quasi-eschatological perspective on the creation of the moral man as a result of the superposition of several social and political practices, the most important of them all being the centrality of the Church, whose mission is, among others, to arouse individual consciousness and to unify the soul of the political body:

 

Homogenisation of souls and therefore their unification in a sound and creative social body, or homogenisation and unification, where human sociability has its real conditions of existence. As we can see it is one of the most organic needs of human life; and no one but for the established Churches can best guarantee and meet these needs, because no one but the Churches can present to humankind a more common, more permanent and more above human powers ideal or way of implementation than these churches, and especially the Christian Church”.[80]

 

Regarded as a member of society, modern man is a creator of phenomena that are harmful to life, such as suicides, divorces, legalisation of abortion, corruption, etc., a fact which leads the bishop to contemplate a new world in a pseudo-eschatological pattern, where “the non-completed and non-consolidated man”[81] turns into a “completed man”[82] and “moral, evangelic man”[83]. So, the role of democracy is not to create social solidarity and consensus, but rather to disseminate Christian teachings at the level of all the society, according to both Social Christianity and Durkheim’s sociology: “Durkheim, for instance, during the courses he gave at the Sorbonne, told us that of two people endowed with equal skills and capacities, the most powerful is the man who has the faith”.[84] Still, in liberal democracies, man is by definition secular, and the task of political regimes is never to lead human beings to the Kingdom of Heavens, and not even to play the role of guardian of religious morality in society. Secular man obeys his impulses, finds his lot and even his raison d’être in getting richer and richer, in accumulating goods, and satisfying his needs and desires[85]; he is therefore oriented rather to the present than to the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. CORPORATISATION OF SOCIETY

An essential point of the bishop’s democratic thinking is people’s sovereignty as fulfilment of the democracy stemmed from the Gospel and as result of the social contract according to which “all powers emanate from the nation”[86]:

 

In Antiquity and even in the Middle Ages the role of the state was to dominate the people. In the modern era, on the contrary, it plays a quite different role, to serve the people. It is so dictated by the nature of things, and it was so enacted by the French Revolution; and so says our Evangel too. […] European peoples took into account this new political direction of the state; and since the French Revolution, they put at its disposal for this purpose three instruments: a political one, a technical one, and a material one. The political instrument is national sovereignty; the technical one is duty and the capacity of the state to examine competently the people’s common and natural needs, and to organise public services in order to satisfy them; and the material instrument is taxation. The legitimisation of taxation ensues from the serving role of modern states; […] the legal instrument of national sovereignty is necessary because through national sovereignty the state exerts on the people its supreme and unique commandment that puts into practice the spiritual link that must exist between citizens. […] These considerations prove beyond any doubt the legitimisation of taxation, or its justification through natural law, which neither human law, nor divine law can infringe”.[87]

 

However, his 1934-1935 project for a political regime provides no more the sovereignty of the political body, and stipulates only the King’s sovereignty, who embodies all the aspirations and needs of the people, organised in professional corporations. There is also a certain continuity, at least at the methodological level, between religious, political and social heresy, “which can be abnormal, that is to say prejudicial to human life, as it was the case for instance of the French Revolution, already cited in here, but also of all religious heresies and schisms in the world[88], or of social upheavals, such as those that shake Russia nowadays”[89]. Consequently, in the absence of a national soul full of morality and especially in the absence of a faith in the people as source of power, the bishop fears that even “the Godless, soulless and lawless”[90] communism could be considered democracy.

Additionally, the project of the Academy of Tested Competences to reduce state bureaucracy at only 25 technocrat members led by the King equals an anti-bureaucratic political regime generated by the bishop’s aversion for both the state’s omnipotence and incapacity of producing social consensus, which means that the state should assume its role of pedagogue. Thus, Bartolomeu Stănescu positions himself against democratic liberal regimes, in which the claim of the state to broaden bureaucracy does not necessarily imply the need to submit individuals’ activity to a unifying plan imposed from above, it only means that the state should adapt to spontaneous social changes. So, as liberal democracies consolidate themselves, the state too grows, it does not diminish, trying to meet the expansive dynamics of society, which should be rendered to itself through self-determination and liberalisation in all domains:

 

The need for a state corresponds to less and less out-dated authority and more and more representativeness. The democratic state no longer imposes the course, it creates a relationship of functional correspondence, of reflection when acting, wherein instead of making prevail an intrinsic necessity, the self-assumption of the social body, the actual self-possession should materialise under the form of effective rule”.[91]

 

In this way, the bishop falls into a trap similar to that neoliberalism which was experimented in countries as Great Britain and the United States of America, in the 1980s, and eventually extended in all Europe, in other words the trap of freeing society from the state’s tutelage, but of putting it under the exclusive authority of one of its fundamental realities, namely free market. Therefore, just as the neoliberal state has to be a transparent one, with a discrete presence in economy, education, health, etc., the state imagined by the bishop too has a sole attribution, i.e. to organise society in professional corporations. Bartolomeu Stănescu’s state is peopled by a few technocrats who govern, not in the name of a politically assumed vision or on behalf of their liability towards citizens, but in the name of their scientific expertise.

Furthermore, the bishop stands against the democratic construction of Western countries from where he actually had borrowed his examples and where states were inserting themselves more and more deeply in society through public services precisely to liberate it:

 

The fertile moment of crystallisation of the democratic system, as we know it since the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, offers it a crucial illustration: the development of the state under the form of various public services, the relinquishment of the royal, imperative character preserved by the exertion of political authority”.[92]

 

Consequently, the greater the role of the state in society, the more naturally does it become present in the collective mechanism, without thereby engendering statism or assistentialism. Hence, Christian democrats plead for a certain degree of interventionism of the state, which would be totally inacceptable for classical liberalism, yet at the same time they attack more severely Marxism than liberalism, which they associate to the state’s dictatorship and to the implicit negation of Christ’s fundamental teachings, viz. the infinite value of human being.

 

 

9. THE FAILURE OF BISHOP BARTOLOMEU’S PROJECT

 

The failure of Bartolomeu Stănescu’s project of Christian democracy is above all a personal failure. He migrates from evangelic democracy to organic statist authoritarianism, without even noticing the radical change of the proposed political regime. On the other hand, the bishop does not succeed to focus enough human energy to shape a social or political movement in order to give effect to some of his ideas. In this respect, during all its existence, the Social-Christian movement Solidaritatea was regarded not as a modern one, but as a modernist current, therefore it was kept at the periphery of both the Romanian Orthodox Church, and of the Romanian interwar society. As to the organisational aspect, in the bishop’s opinion, the Church herself did not possess enough resources to generate an at least intellectual movement, and much less a social one, since “today the Church is ossified contenting herself to prepare documents and indulging in administrative formalism”[93].

On the other hand, the patriarch Miron Cristea himself never showed a real interest in the principles of Social Christianity, and the King Carol II, who forced bishop Bartolomeu Stănescu to withdraw, positioned himself ever since the royal Restoration of June 8, 1930 against political parties, Parliament and implicitly against democracy itself, attitude reconfirmed by the nomination of Miron Cristea as President of the Council of Ministers, a decision that had the role of consolidating the antiparty sensibility in society[94].

Consequently, even if certain zones of the Romanian interwar civil society, such as Solidaritatea, sought to draw the attention on the need of a democratic construction, the major concern of the political class was to politically turn a vertical hierarchy into a horizontal arrangement of elites[95]; in other words, they paid less attention to civil equality which is specific to democracy, than to a sort of ultra-bureaucratisation which contradicts the bishop’s reflection, according to whom “it is man who makes the state in accordance with his needs, and not the other way around”[96]. Furthermore, the ruling parts of civil society exhibited no interest in associating themselves with the project or at least to imitate it at another level. In this respect, the priests I. Popescu-Mălăești and Nicolae Dobrescu, both professors at the Faculty of Theology of the University of Bucharest, saw in Bartolomeu Stănescu’s Social Christianity but a political programme, inspired from Die christlich Partei and Le christianisme social, socio-political movements of Germany, and respectively of France[97], which means that behind the association between modernity and Christianity there is no sheer scientific resource, but merely a political ideology, subject to transience and even contrary to the Romanian Orthodox Church. Thus, although we did not identify a cause-effect answer to the reasons which underlay the lack of influence of the Romanian social Christianity or to the reasons why the members of the movement gave up the project initiated by Bartolomeu Stănescu, the ecclesiastical and political elites’ silence betrays an utter lack of interest in the only formula of Christian democracy in interwar Romania.

 

 

10. CONCLUSIONS

 

To top it all, Bartolomeu Stănescu’s democracy is the pray of the very novel element it contained, namely the subsidiarity principle, which remains in both formulas of political regime conceived by the Oltenian bishop, or, in other words, subsidiarity in its democratic formula is very close to subsidiarity in the authoritarian formula. Bartolomeu Stănescu leaves the scene of the history as a character rejected by several political regimes (Carol’s dictatorship, the Iron Guard, Antonescu’s dictatorship, and the communist regime), but he enters the zone of historiography and history of political ideas as one of the few Romanians who sought to put into practice Christian democracy through an intellectual formula.


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STĂNESCU, Bartolomeu, Cursuri misionare cu preoții eparhii la Sfânta Mănăstire Arnota, Editura Sfintei Episcopii a Râmnicului Noul Severin, Râmnicul Vâlcea, 1939.

STĂNESCU, Bartolomeu, “Vom avea autonomia bisericească? ”, Universul, Vol. 37, No. 132, 1919.

STĂNESCU, Bartolomeu, “Principii pe cari va avea să se întemeieze autonomia Bisericii Ortodoxe de Răsărit în Regatul Român”, Arhiva pentru drept şi politică, No. 1, 1919.

STĂNESCU, Bartolomeu, Produsuri sufletești și realități verificate, Tipografia “Cozia” a Sfintei Episcopii, Râmnicul-Vâlcea, 1934.

STĂNESCU, Bartolomeu, “Principiile de bază ale reorganizării noastre sociale și ce însemnătate ar avea pentru reorganisarea Bisericii Ortodoxe de Răsărit din România întregită”, Revista social-creștină Solidaritatea, No. 5-6, Anul I, 1920.

STĂNESCU, Bartolomeu “Principiile de bază ale reorganizării noastre sociale și Ce însemnătate ar avea pentru reorganisarea Bisericii Ortodoxe de Răsărit din România întregită”, Solidaritatea. Revistă social-creștină, Anul I, No. 5-6, august-septembrie, 1920.

STĂNESCU, Bartolomeu, “Datoriile economico-sociale ale statului din punct de vedere creştin”. Solidaritatea. Revistă social-creștină, Anul V, No. 1-3, iunie, 1924.

STĂNESCU, Bartolomeu, “Prea Sfinţia Sa Episcopul Vartolomei din Eparhia Râmnicului Noul Severin. Cuvântare despre educaţia copiilor, rostită la conferinţa «Alianţei Universale» de la Stokholm, în luna august 1925”/ Biserica Ortodoxă Română, Seria II, Anul 43, No. 12 (537), 1925.

STĂNESCU, Vartolomeiu, “O cuvântare ținută la desvelirea busturilor foștilor Decani: Gh. Chițu și A. Betolian, ai baroului din Craiova”, Renașterea. Revistă de cultură religioasă, Anul IV, No. 12, 1925.

STĂNESCU, Vartolomeiu, episcop al Râmnicului Noului Severin, Cum stăm cu progresul general la începutul anului 1928 sau Primejduirea omenirii, Tipografia Cozia, Râmnicul-Vâlcea, 1928.

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STĂNESCU, Vartolomeiu, “Cârmuirea sovietică nimicește în Rusia până și dreptul de închinare”, Renașterea. Revistă de cultură religioasă, Anul IX, No. 3, 1930.

STĂNESCU, Vartolomeiu, O scurtă privire asupra unor stări de fapt de azi în legătură cu viitorul, Tipografia „Episcopul Vartolomeiu” a Sf. Episcopii a Râmnicului Noului Severin, n.p., 1935.

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WILLIAMSON, Peter J., Varieties of Corporatism. A Conceptual Discussion, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge & London & New York, 1985.

 



[1] This study is part of a vaster research entitled “When Social Christianity wears the Mitre: the Bishop of Râmnicul Noului Severin, Bartolomeu Stănescu (1875 -1954)”, presented as a Ph.D. thesis in September 2012 at the Faculty of Political Sciences of the University of Bucharest, under the guidance of professor Daniel Barbu, Ph.D.

[2] Cătălin RAIU, Ortodoxie, postcomunism și neoliberalism. O critică teologico-politică, Curtea Veche, Bucureşti, 2012, pp. 129-138.

[3] Ion MIHALCESCO, L'Eglise Orthodoxe Orientale et la vie spirituelle intérieure, Tipografia Cărţilor Bisericeşti, Bucureşti, 1932, p.14.

[4] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Curs de Exegeză a Noului Testament. 1913 -1914, 1914, p. 12.

[5] Idem, Cursuri misionare cu preoții eparhii la Sfânta Mănăstire Arnota, Editura Sfintei Episcopii a Râmnicului Noul Severin, Râmnicul Vâlcea, 1939, p. 91.

[6] Idem, Curs de Exegeză...cit., p. 12.

[7] Idem, Produsuri sufletești și realități verificate, Tipografia “Cozia” a Sfintei Episcopii a Râmnicul Vâlcii, 1934, p. 13.

[8] Idem, “Vom avea autonomia bisericească?”, Universul, Vol. 37, No. 132, 1919, p. 1.

[9] Idem, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 210.

[10] Idem, Curs de Exegeză...cit., p. 103.

[11] Idem, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 244.

[12] Idem, Curs de Exegeză...cit., p. 63.

[13] Idem, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 243.

[14] Idem, “Vom avea autonomia...”, p. 1.

[15] Idem, Produsuri sufletești...cit., pp. 212-213.

[16] Idem, O scurtă privire asupra unor stări de fapt de azi în legătură cu viitorul, Tipografia “Episcopul Vartolomeiu” a Sf. Episcopii a Râmnicului Noului Severin, 1935, p. 23.

[17] Idem [Arhiereul V. BĂCĂOANUL], “Principii pe cari va avea să se întemeieze autonomia Bisericii Ortodoxe de Răsărit în Regatul Român”, Arhiva pentru drept şi politică, No. 1, iulie-septembrie 1919.

[18] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 277.

[19] Ibidem, p. 165.

[20] Michael HORTON, Introducing Covenant Theology, Baker Books, n.p., 2006; A. Glen MOOTS, Politics Reformed: the Anglo-American legacy of covenant theology, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, 2010.

[21] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Cursuri misionare cu preoții eparhii la Sfânta Mănăstire Arnota, Editura Sfintei Episcopii a Râmnicului Noul Severin, 1939, pp. 80-81.

[22] Idem, Produsuri sufletești...cit., pp. 287-288.

[23] Although the freedom of conscience is almost traditional in North America, the moral heredity of the Americans born by puritans engendered this application to human life of the Christianity of the first centuries, to which the American religious breaches are valueless (Bartolomeu Stănescu’s note).

[24] Bartolomeu, STĂNESCU, Cursuri misionare...cit., p. 89.

[25] Idem, “Principiile de bază ale reorganizării noastre sociale si ce însemnătate ar avea pentru reorganisarea Bisericii Ortodoxe de Răsărit din România întregită”, Solidaritatea. Revista social - creștină, anul I, No. 5-6, n.p., 1920, pp. 168-169.

[26] Idem, Curs de Exegeză...cit., p. 19.

[27] Idem, “Cârmuirea sovietică nimicește în Rusia până și dreptul de închinare”, Renașterea. Revista de cultură religioasă, anul IX, No. 3, 1930, p. 81.

[28] Daniel BARBU, Republica absentă. Politică şi societate în România postcomunistă , 2nd ed., Nemira, Bucureşti, 2004, p. 139.

[29] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 64.

[30] Ibidem, p. 359.

[31] Idem, Curs de Exegeză...cit., p. 21.

[32] Ibidem, p. 11.

[33] Șerban IONESCU, “Mișcarea social -creștină și reforma vieții sociale”, Solidaritatea. Revista social-creștină, Anul IV, No. 4-6, 1920, p. 79.

[34] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, “O cuvântare ținută la desvelirea busturilor foștilor Decani: Gh. Chițu și A. Betolian, ai baroului din Craiova”, Renașterea. Revista de cultură religioasă, Anul IV, No. 12, 1925, p. 397.

[35] 50% up to 500.000 lei and 75% more than 500.000 lei.

[36] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 247.

[37] Ibidem., p. 353.

[38] Ibidem.

[39] Ibidem, p. 312.

[40] Ibidem, p. 356.

[41] Ibidem, p. 267.

[42] Ibidem, p. 354.

[43] Ibidem.

[44] Ibidem, p. 350.

[45] Idem, “Principiile de bază...cit.”, p. 171.

[46] Idem, Cum stăm cu progresul general la începutul anului 1928 sau Primejduirea omenirii, Tipografia Cozia, Râmnicul -Vâlcea, 1928, p. 53.

[47] Ion MICLEA, Elemente de Politică Creştină, Tipografia Vremea, n.p., 1947, p. 25.

[48] Alexandru MAMINA, Dimensiunea religioasă a gândirii contrarevoluţionare franceze, Corint, Bucureşti, 2002.

[49] Nicolae T. BUZEA, Socialismul şi creştinismul social, Tipografia Eparhială “Viaţa Românească”, Chişinău, 1926.

[50] John MILBANK, Simon OLIVER, The Radical Orthodoxy Reader, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, London & New York, 2009, p. 352.

[51] Marcel GAUCHET, Dezvrăjirea lumii: o istorie politică a religiei, trans. Vasile Tonoiu, Nemira, Bucureşti, 2006.

[52] Ibidem, p. 304.

[53] Eugen PAVELESCU, “Corporatismul Moldovei secolului al XVIII-lea”, Lumea Nouă, Anul V, 1936.

[54] Constantin C. BÂCA, “Românizarea prin bresle”, Lumea Nouă, Anul V, No. 10-11, 1936.

[55] Mihail MANOILESCU, Preoții și profesorii în statul corporativ, Tipografia ziarului “Universul”, Bucureşti, 1934.

[56] Nicolae T. BUZEA, Socialismul şi creştinismul social, Tipografia Eparhială “Viaţa Românească”, Chişinău, 1926, p. 275.

[57] Juan J. LINZ, Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes, Lynne Rienner Publishers, London, 2000, p. 211.

[58] Raymond ARON, Democracy and Totalitarianism, trans. Valence Ionescu, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1968.

[59] Cătălin RAIU, Social Christianity and The Constitution of A New Political Subject”, Studia Politica. Romanian Political Science Review, Vol. 12, No. 2, 2012, pp. 259-273.

[60] Jacques MARITAIN, Omul şi statul, trans. Livia Iacob, Institutul European, Iaşi, 2008, p. 145.

[61] Chantal MILLON-DELSOL, Statul subsidiar. Ingerința și neingerința statului: principiul subsidiarității în fundamentele istoriei europene, trans. Margareta Petruț, Efes, Cluj-Napoca, 2000.

[62] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Produsuri sufletești...cit., pp. 185 -186.

[63] Idem, Curs de Exegeză...cit., p. 28.

[64] Daniel BARBU, Republica absentă...cit., p. 269.

[65] Émile DURKHEIM, Professional Ethics and Civic Morals, 2nd edition, trans. Cornelia Brookfield, Routledge, London & New York, 1992, p. 60.

[66] Ibidem, p. 60.

[67] Ibidem, p. 89.

[68] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Cursuri misionare...cit., pp. 78 -79.

[69] Idem, Produsuri sufletești...cit.

[70] Idem, “Omul de astăzi”, Românizarea, Anul IV, No. 73, 1938, pp. 1-2.

[71] Idem, Principiile de bază ale reorganizării noastre sociale și Ce însemnătate ar avea pentru reorganisarea Bisericii Ortodoxe de Răsărit din România întregită(II)”, Solidaritatea. Revistă social-creștină, Anul I, No. 7-8, octombrie-noiembrie 1920.

[72] Idem, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 361.

[73] Ibidem, pp. 88 -91.

[74] Peter J. WILLIAMSON, Varieties of Corporatism. A Conceptual Discussion, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge & London & New York, 1985.

[75] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 351.

[76] Idem, Cum stăm cu progresul...cit., p. 26.

[77] Jacques MARITAIN, Omul şi statulcit..

[78] Daniel BARBU, “Destinul colectiv, servitutea involuntară, nefericirea totalitară: trei mituri ale comunismului românesc”, in Lucian BOIA (coord.), Miturile comunismului românesc, Nemira, Bucureşti, 1998.

[79] Marcel GAUCHET, Dezvrăjirea lumii...cit., p. 291.

[80] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Principiile de bază ale...cit., p. 240.

[81] Idem, Cum stăm cu progresul...cit., p. 33.

[82] Idem, Formarea omului întreg de către clerul eparhial și cel parohial al Sfintei noastre Biserici Ortodoxe Române, Tipografia “Episcopul Vartolomeiu”, Râmnicul -Vâlcea, 1936, p. 61.

[83] Dumitru CRISTESCU, Viaţa şi înfăptuirile Prea Sfinţitului Episcop Vartolomeiu până la împlinirea vârstei de 60 de ani, Tipografia “Episcopul Vartolomeiu”, Râmnicul -Vâlcea, 1936, p. 91.

[84] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, “Cuvântarea ținută de P. S. Episcop Vartolomeiu la deschiderea Adunării Eparhiale din 13 Maiu 1929”, Renașterea., Revista de cultură religioasă Anul VIII, No. 6, 1929, p. 202.

[85] Clinton ROSSITER, James LARE, The Essential Lippmann. A Political Philosophy for Liberal Democracy, Vintage Books, New York, 1995.

[86] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, Curs de Exegeză...cit., p. 66.

[87] Idem, Produsuri sufletești...cit., p. 245.

[88] As for instance the Inochentiștii, whose cult consists in such sexual debauchery that overshadows even brothels which are specialised in this kind of depravation (Bartolomeu Stănescu’s note).

[89] Ibidem, p. 279.

[90] Ibidem, p. 42.

[91] Marcel GAUCHET, Dezvrăjirea lumii...cit., p. 292.

[92] Ibidem, p. 317.

[93] Bartolomeu STĂNESCU, “Cuvântare despre educaţia copiilor, rostită la conferinţa «Alianţei Universale» de la Stokholm, în luna august 1925”, Biserica Ortodoxă Română, Seria II, Anul 43, No. 12, 1925, p. 716.

[94] Cristian PREDA, Rumânii fericiți. Vot și putere de la 1821 până în prezent, Polirom, Iași, 2011.

[95] Daniel BARBU, Cristian PREDA, Building the State from the Roof Down: Varieties of Romanian Liberal Nationalism”, in Iván Zoltán DÉNES (ed.), Liberty and the search for identity: liberal nationalism and the legacy of empires. Central European University Press, Budapest, 2006.

[96] Stănescu BARTOLOMEU, “Datoriile economico -sociale ale statului din punct de vedere creştin”, Revista social -creștină Solidaritatea, Anul V, No. 1-3, 1924, p. 26.

[97] A.N.I.C., Fund of the Ministry of Cults and Public Instruction, File no. 2638/1913, sheet 38.