Romanian Orthodox and Catholics slam Jehovah’s Witnesses

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c. 1996 Religion News Service

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(UNDATED)_ Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics in Romania are speaking out against a decision by the Romanian government to allow an international gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Bucharest this summer.

Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist warned Orthodox believers to be on their guard against what he called Jehovah’s Witnesses'”heretical”beliefs.

The Witnesses plan a three-day congress to be held in Bucharest’s National Stadium July 19-21. About 40,000 Romanian members of the group are expected attend. Witnesses were also expected from Austria, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine an Romania.”We are alarmed that the authorities agreed so easily to this meeting in a predominantly Orthodox country, regardless of the fact that the group’s followers are only a tiny minority in our country,”Patriarch Teoctist wrote in the independent newspaper, Religious Life.

The Orthodox Church makes up about 87 percent of Romania’s estimated 22.9 million people.”Forgetting that the commandment to love God and neighbor rests on faith in the Holy Trinity, this sect contributes irresponsibly to the hatred and violence haunting today’s world,”he wrote. “Although the world is God’s creation, they brand culture and the state as tools of the Devil, and terrorize the world with talk of an impending tragic end,”Teoctist added.

Ecumenical News International, the Geneva-based religious news agency, reported that about 2,000 people took part in a rally in Bucharest June 30 protesting the planned conference.

The rally was supported by Archbishop Ion Bob, head of the Roman Catholic Church in Romania and Russia, according to ENI.

Jehovah’s Witness spokesman Merton Campbell said such attacks by church leaders against members of his faith were common.”They’re just very opposed to our activity,”Campbell said from church offices in Patterson, N.Y.”This happens in Africa, it happens in Europe, it happens all over and it’s nothing new. Jehovah’s Witnesses are strictly Bible students. We teach the Bible and are not involved anywhere in the world in politics or military activity.” The Jehovah’s Witnesses were legally registered in Romania in 1990, six months after the overthrow of communist rule.

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