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Passing Of An Underground Church Hero
(IRPP) Washington , DC – The Institute on Religion and Public Policy mourned the death of the Rev. Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa this past week who passed away recently at the age of 81. Father Calciu was a stern actor of faith in the face of decades of communist rule in his homeland of Romania .
First imprisoned in 1948 as a 21-year-old medical student for making speeches against Communist rule, Calciu was tortured and remained behind bars for 16 years. However, during his time in prison Calciu found a growing approbation for the priests with whom he was jailed. Once released, he arranged to secretly study theology with the assistance of Patriarch Justinian of the Romanian Orthodox Church and was ordained in 1972.
After Justinian’s passing in 1977, Father Calciu again became a target of the communist regime. In 1978 after initiating a series of sermons addressing religious persecution under Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Father Calciu was expelled from the church by a new patriarch, was arrested and jailed, where he remained until 1983.
Father Calciu was placed under house arrest for the next two years, under the constant watch of the Ceausescu government, who thought of Calciu as a personal enemy and threat. After years of injections on Calciu’s behalf by then President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush, Ceausescu exiled him and his family to the United States in 1985.
Once in the US , Father Calciu settled in the Washington DC area. He continued his active protest against communist rule in Romania , broadcasting sermons via Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, lobbying Congress and taking part in demonstrations, despite rumors of assassination plans by Ceausescu.
“Father Calciu was a voice of reason and love during a time of great distress. His message spoke not only of democracy and religious freedom, but of respect and love for fellow man. He was a man of Romania and more importantly of God.”