Uniatism in Transylvania

As we get close to the end of the seventeenth century, the situation in Transylvania becomes precarious. This is related to the fact that Transylvania passed under direct Habsburg rule . Then, Calvinism speedily found itself on to the defensive. Catholicism - now once more in the ascendant in the Slovak districts of the Northern Hungary - set itself to recover its lost ground in the land beyond the Forest. What more natural than that the Jesuits, strong in the confidence of Leopold I and court circles Vienna, should have turned their eyes to the Romanians as a useful instrument of centralist and Catholicising tendencies? [...] the union secured to the clergy who accepted it equality of rights with the Roman clergy and therefore a vital rise in social status, and exemption for them and their families from serfdom and feudal dues. In the phrase of a witty Jesuit of that day, the Romanian clergy was "not led by supernatural principles, but by temporary necessities" [...] Despite all handicaps the devotion of the common people to the ancient faith was truly touching: and the latent demand for an Orthodox bishop and freedom of religion slowly became more vocal and was roused by the Uniate example. In 1759 a poor priest named Sofronie acquired a remarkable ascendancy among the peasantry along the southwest frontier and brought many back to Orthodoxy. When arrested by the authorities, he was forcibly released and then guarded and kept in hiding by the peasantry employed in the royal mines in Abrud. For a time they were in virtual revolt and openly declared that "the power of the lords is at an end, it is we who are now the masters". Finally General Buccow was sent to pacify them and win them over to enlistment, and Sofronie was eventually captured by the aid of the soldiers. But it was long ere the repugnance of the Orthodox peasantry could be overcome. In 1763 a petition was addressed in these terms from the district of Bistritz to the Serbian bishop of Buda, Novakovic, whom the Government had allowed to make a visit of enquiry: "We are being ruined body and soul, we die without confession or communion, like the beasts, and like sheep without a shepherd. If you will not take pity on us and bring us aid an consolation, we shall not turn back homewards, where arrest and punishment awaits us, but we shall go other lands, where we can hold peacefully to our religion: for we are firmly resolved to perish rather than accept the Union"

from "A history of the Roumanians, from Roman times to the completion of unity"
by R. W. Seton-Watson, Cambridge University Press, 1934

"In Transilvania, din dispozitia generalului Bukow, s-a intocmit o statistica a clerului si a credinciosilor romani, fie ortodocsi, fie uniati, precum si a bisericilor lor. Cu acest prilej, peste 500 de biserici au fost atribuite in mod abuziv unitilor; zeci de sate au fost declarate, in acelasi mod, ca uniate. Tot din dispozitia sa au fost distruse cu tunurile sau arse majoritatea din cele aproximativ 200 de manastiri si schituri care existau pe atunci in Transilvania. In urma comiterii acestei barbarii, practic, n-a mai ramas urma de viata monahala ortodoxa in Transilvania. Prin infiintarea a doua “regimente de granita”, din ordinul aceluiasi Bukow, in care primiti numai uniati, mii de credinciosi ortodocsi din satele din sudul Transilvaniei au fost nevoiti sa-si paraseasca locurile natale si sa se refugieze in alte parti. In felul acesta, generalul Bukow ca adevaratul intemeietor al Bisericii unite din Transilvania."

Pr. Prof. Dr. Mircea Pacurariu, "Sfinti daco-romani si romani",
Editura Mitropoliei Moldovei si Bucovinei, Iasi, 1994, pag. 115-118.

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