On April 13, 1948, the constitution of the Romanian People’s Republic was published. With this date, for the Roman Catholic as well as for the Greek Catholic Church in Romania a way of suffering and suppression began, which only ended on December 22, 1989, when the last dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown.
At the beginning of this dark period the Romanian episcopate had these members:
Alba Iulia: 1938 – 1980 Bishop Aaron Marton
Bucuresti: 1924 – 1954 Archbishop Alexandru Cisar
Iasi: 1947 – 1951 Bishop Anton Durcovici, 1944 – 1947 Administrator Bp. Markus (Marcu) Glaser
Satu Mare: 1942 – 1952 Bishop János Scheffler
Timisoara: 1930 – 1954 Bishop Augustin Pacha
While Archbishop Cisar was hindered to administer his diocese from 1949 on, the other bishops were imprisoned. Bishop Glaser was imprisoned in May 1950 and died the same month. Bishop Durcovici starved on December 11, 1951, in the jail of Sighet; on October 31, 2013, his martyrdom was officially testified, and on May 17, 2014, his beatification took place. Bishop János Scheffler died on December 6, 1952 at Bucarest. His martyrdom was officially recognized by the Holy See on July 1, 2010, and he was beatified on July 3, 2011 at Satu Mare.
Cluj-Gherla: 1917 – 1970 Bishop Iuliu Hossu, 1969 Cardinal „in pectore“
Făgăraş şi Alba Iulia: 1940 – 1953 Administrator Bp. Ioan Suciu
Făgăraş şi Alba Iulia: 1940 – 1950 Auxiliary Bishop Vasile Aftenie
Lugoj: 1936 – 1959 Bishop Ioan Bălan
Maramureş: 1930 – 1963 Bishop Alexandru Rusu
Oradea Mare: 1922 – 1952 Bishop Valeriu Traian Frentiu
From 1949 onwards, all Greek Catholic bishops were imprisoned. Bishop Aftenie was shot in the Departement of Interior’s prison on May 10, 1950, and also bishops Suciu and Frentiu died in prison on June 27, 1953, respective on July 11, 1952. Bishop Rusu died on May 5, 1963, in presence of Rev. Emil Riti, in jail at Gherla. The beatification of these six prelates as well as of Bishop Chinezu took place on June 2, 2019, by Pope Francis at Blaj.
During the communist regime the Greek Catholic Church was suppressed brutaly, and for the latin rite as well it was only possible to consecrate very few new bishops:
Alba Iulia: 1971 – 1990 Coadjutor Antal Jakab, 1980 Bishop
Alba Iulia: 1981 – 1990 Auxiliary Bishop Lajos Bálint
Bucureşti: 1984 – 1990 Administrator Bp. Ioan Robu
Iaşi: 1965 – 1977 Petru Plesca, Titular Bishop of Voli, consecrated by Cardinal Confalonieri in Rome.
In 1948, with Anton Durcovici the for a long time last official bishop of the catholic church in Romania was consecrated. Following, several clandestine bishop’s consecrations took place. All new bishops of the first three generation were imprisoned afterwards for years.
Bishop Consecrations by Mgr. Gerald Patrick O’Hara, Bishop of Savannah-Atlanta and Regent of the Apostolic Nunciature in Romania from 1946 up to his expulsion on July 4/5, 1950:
05.04.1948 Anton Durcovici, Bishop of Iasi, + 11.12.1951
Secret Bishop Consecrations by Mgr. O’Hara in the Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature:
30.11.1948 Ioan Ploscaru, Titular Bishop of Trapezopoli and Auxiliary Bishop of Lugoj, + 31.07.1998
08.12.1948 Ioan Duma, Titular Bishop of Giuliopoli, + 16.07.1981
12.12.1948 Adalbert Boros, Titular Bishop of Ressiana and Ap. Administrator of Timisoara, + 06.06.2003
02.02.1949 Alfréd Eröss, Auxiliary Bishop of Alba Iulia, + 31.07.1950
14.02.1949 Szilárd István Constantin Bogdánffy, Auxiliary Bishop of Satu Mare si Oradea Mare, + 02.10.1953
06.03.1949 Ioan Maria Dragomir, Titular Bishop of Paleopoli di Pamfilia and Auxiliary Bishop of Maramures, + 25.04.1985
28.07.1949 Iuliu Hirtea, Titular Bishop of Nebbi and Auxiliary Bishop of Oradea Mare, + 28.06.1978
30.06.1950 Joseph Schubert, Titular Bishop of Ceramussa and Ap. Administrator of Bucuresti, + 04.04.1969
Bishop Bogdánffy died in Aiud prison; his martyrdom was officially recognized on March 27, 2010. On October 30, 2010, his beatification in Oradea Mare took place.
Secret Bishop Consecration by Mgr. Joseph Schubert, Titular Bishop of Ceramussa and Ap. Administrator of Bucureşti:
19.11.1950 Alexandru Todea, Titular Bishop of Cesaropoli, + 22.05.2002
Additionaly, Hieronymus Menges was scheduled for consecration to replace Bishop Schubert in the case of his imprisonment. In fact, this consecration never took place, bevause Mons. Schubert went to jail without having had the opportunity for the ceremony. From 1951 up to 1952, Menges was special delegate of Bucureşti during Bishop Schubert’s imprisonment, then was in prison himself since 1952, before he was released in 1964. He now rejected the episcopal dignity which was offered to him by the communist authorities. In 1966 he was deported to Munich. He died in Bremen in 2002.
Secret Bishop Consecrations by Mgr. Valeriu Traian Frentiu, united Bishop of Oradea Mare:
25.04.1949 Tit Liviu Chinezu, Titular Bishop of Regiana and Auxiliary Bishop of Făgăraş şi Alba Iulia, + 15.01.1955
25.12.1949 Ioan Chertes, Titular Bishop of Campania and Auxiliary Bishop of Cluj-Gherla, + 31.01.1992
Bishop Chinezu died in Sighet prison. His beatification took place on June 2, 2019. Bishop Cherteş, who’s consecration date later was published as of December 25, 1949, indeed seems to became consecrated already in spring 1949, i. e. before papal approvement, at Caldarusani monastery, where the Greek Catholic bishops had been confined.
Secret Bishop Consecration by Mgr. Alexandru Cisar, Archbishop of Bucuresti:
00.00.1951 Gyözö Viktor Macalik, Titular Bishop of Azoto and Auxiliary Bishop of Alba Iulia, + 17./19.08.1951
The consecration took place without co-consecrators in Bucharest; in August, 1951, bishop Macalik was arrested and assassinated.
Circulated additional Consecrations:
03.12.1949 Gavrila Stan, in Oradea, by Iuliu Hirtea?
00.00.0000 Simion Crisan, in Blaj, by Iuliu Hirtea or Ioan Dragomir?
Mons. Stan, rector of the Theologian Acadamy at Oradea, was arrested for a while as soon as 1948; from 1951 up to 1955 he again was imprisoned. Indeed he was designated for the bishopric but was not consecrated, after the Nunciature got knowledge of his obvious non-celibacy life.
Also Mons. Crisian was imprisoned from 1952 up to 1955 as well as from 1958 up to 1964 and afterwards a simple worker in Aiud and in Alba Iulia. Today we know he was not intended as a bishop and never consecrated; the same is regarded in the case of the priest Aureliu Lelutiu (born on April 21, 1914, at Oltet-Făgăraş and deceased on December 23, 1980, at Blaj), who, after studies in Rome, worked as professor in Blaj and who was imprisoned from 1951 up to 1964.
Secret Bishop Consecrations by Mgr. Ioan Maria Dragomir:
12.01.1983 Octavian Cristian, Bishop for Maramureş, + 31.01.1989
10.07.1984 Justin Paven, Coadjutor of Bishop Cristian, + 19.11.1999
18.04.1985 Emil Riti, + 21.02.2006
Bishop Dragomir became after the death of Bishop Hossu in fact leading hierarch of the Greek-Catholic Church of Romania. This explains the three bishop’s consecrations of the 1980s, of which the last one took place only one week beford Bishop Dragomir’s death, when he already was lying dying. Referring to Bishop Octavian Cristian, Dragomir was created Cardinal „in pectore“ by Paul VI. Bishop Todea, who became himself the only leader of the uniates – John Paul II appointed him Metropolitan of Fagaras si Alba Iulia after the crashdown of communism and created him a cardinal in 1991 -, worked for a official recognition of the Dragomir consecrations by the Holy See, which were only accepted silently. Because of his serious stroke and the critical point of view of Mgr Ploscaru in this very question it was not possible to solve this topic. Bishop Riti, a close collaborator of Mgr Todea and imprisoned for faith himself from 1950 up to August 4, 1964, never had been recognized as bishop. This may be founded in the circumstance of never refuted rumours of Riti’s post-prison relationship to Securitate (code name „Nicolae Popeşcu“).
The photos of this page were taken by the archives of Hofrat Dr. Manfred Kierein, Vienna, and of the author. The privat photo of bishop Duma as well as his seal were provided by Ioan Antal, the bishop’s nephew
Here you can find additional photos of Ioan Duma as well as Joseph Schubert:
Birtz, Mircea Remus: Capitlul diecezan de Cluj-Gherla între septembrie 1987 – martie 1990, Editura Napoca Star 2007
ibd., Cronologia ordinarilor diecezani greco-catolici (uniti) 1948 – 1989, Editura Napoca Star 2007
ibd., Episcopul Emil Riti (1926 – 2006) – Tentativa unei recuperari istoriografice, Editura Napoca Star 2006
ibd., Farâme din prescura prigoanei 1948 – 1990, Editura Napoca Star 2008
ibd., Episcopul Ioan Ploscaru într-o prietenie epistolara de douazeci de ani, Editura Napoca Star 2009
ibd., Alte farâme din prescura prigoanei, Editura Napoca Star 2010
ibd., Webblog http://remusmirceabirtz.wordpress.com
Jakubínyi, György: Archontológia, Verbum 2010.
Prundus, Silvestru Augustin: Iuliu Hossu – Exhumare si reînhumare, Editura Napoca Star 2008
AUDIODATA:http://www.zshare.net/download/633805458225b243/In neuem Fenster öffnen, the last liturgy of Bp. Ioan Dragomir (I), with voice of Bp. Octavian Cristian http://www.zshare.net/download/63381020e7ac7b67/In neuem Fenster öffnen, the last liturgy of Bp. Ioan Dragomir (II), requiem for Bp. Dragomir at Arinis 30.IV.1985 http://www.zshare.net/download/63381428ed9c1c8d/In neuem Fenster öffnen, Burial of Bp. Dragomir (I), with homily of Bp. Alexandru Todea (I) http://www.zshare.net/download/63381754deccdfe5/In neuem Fenster öffnen Burial of Bp. Dragomir (II) with Homily of Bp. Todea, and discourses of canons Gheorghe Marian and Paul Sever.