Deutsche Welle reports on the new $300 million dollar (€200 million euro) cathedral being built in front of the People’s Palace in Bucharest, the capital of the south central European nation of Romania.
The bill is being paid jointly by the Romanian Orthodox Church and by the Romanian government. Before you freak out at the latter detail, remember that American ideas about the separation of church and state often do not apply in Europe. Many of the older, more established churches in Europe receive state funding, such as in Germany where a church tax is levied and dispensed to the two state churches: the Roman Catholic and Evangelical Lutheran Churches.
Even so, I wonder what Christ would say–at the risk of implying an assumption–about a place of Christian worship being built at such a monumental cost. Furthermore, as the report by Deutsche Welle points out, the project is catching some heat as the government closes several hospitals, something that makes me wonder.
Romania is overwhelmingly Christian (upwards of 89% belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church) and has had a rough history over the past half-century. Under Ceausescu, who ruled the country under a Communist dictatorship until he was driven from power in a popular revolution at the end of the 1980s, the church in Romania faced repression and many likely see this as an act of conciliation (i.e., a church being built in front of the secularly-monumental People’s Palace in the center of Bucharest.)
It’s for that reason I’ll avoid passing judgment because (a) I’m not Romanian, (b) I’ve never been to Romania, (c) I don’t know any Romanian Orthodox Christians, and (d) all I know about situation is what I’ve learned from Deutsche Welle. But in an age of multi-million dollar church buildings (even–ahem, especially–in America), it should give us pause nonetheless.