Romania: thousands attend blessing of controversial cathedral

时间:2019-10-08 责任编辑:弓洒 来源:澳门赌博网址大全-2019专业平台Welcome√ 点击:272 次

Tens of thousands of worshippers attended the inauguration on Sunday of a giant new Orthodox cathedral in Bucharest, amid criticism that public funding for the project could be better used to pay for hospitals and schools in one of the EU’s poorest countries.

The event was marred after three people were hospitalised when scuffles broke out between riot police and Orthodox believers.

Construction of the Romanian People’s Salvation Cathedral began in 2010 and is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

The consecration mass on Sunday, which marked 100 years since modern-day was created, was attended by worshippers from all over the country, with local reports describing huge crowds congregating in front of the building site to follow the ceremony on screens outside. The service was led by Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch and archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome, and the Romanian patriarch, Daniel.

But tempers frayed after believers tried to push their way through police lines after lining up for hours to visit the cathedral. Riot police spokesman Georgian Enache called for calm, saying believers “due to tiredness, impatience had forced their way” past police lines on the cathedral steps.

Authorities said 83 people required medical attention during the day. They said most cases were because of fainting, after they stood for many hours in cold, damp weather.

“It’s a very special event. And I definitely wanted to be here because the cathedral symbolises the centenary of ,” Ion Duta, a pensioner from Bucharest, told AFP.

“The costs are certainly high, but at least the church has shown that it can build such a project. Our elected politicians are incapable of constructing motorways,” said Georgiana, another bystander, who did not give her second name.

Construction of the Romanian People’s Salvation Cathedral in Bucharest is scheduled to be completed in 2024. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA

Covering an area of 14,000 sq metres (150,000 sq feet), the cathedral will be Romania’s second tallest building, and the tallest Orthodox cathedral in the world, with its main bell tower measuring 120 metres (390 feet) in height.

Situated in the centre of the capital behind the palace of Parliament of the former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, it will be able to hold as many as 5,000 worshippers.

Originally, the cost was estimated at about €80m (£71m), but it has already spiralled to €110m and tens of millions more are expected to be spent before it is completed.

With about 75% of the amount already paid for by public funds, the cost has created controversy in a country where investment in dilapidated infrastructure is badly needed.

About 88% of Romania’s population of 20 million are Orthodox.

The patriarchate argues that Romania “needs a representative national cathedral, which symbolises faith, freedom and dignity of the people”.

Despite criticism about the costs, successive governments over the past decade have nevertheless put up the money in the hope of winning the support of the powerful Orthodox church in return.

A group of ethnic Romanians from Ukraine dressed in colourful popular costume also attended the ceremony. “This is our faith, our soul,” said Elena Nandris, the mayor of the southern Ukrainian village of Mahala, with tears in her eyes. “This is a once in a lifetime event.”