The establishment of the People’s Salvation Cathedral or the National Cathedral is not a wish that came about in recent years – it is much older and pertains to the evolution of our Church in relation to the Romanian nation, to our history, to our tradition and even to our Romanian culture. Mihai Eminescu supported this wish, speaking about the moral dimension of such an edifice, in agreement with the other European cathedrals. We need places of convergence, symbolic centers which will bring together energies and aspirations, and which will express our identity.
Many established European nations have similar cathedrals, no need to enumerate them, or discuss them now. We have heard opinions in the past, which stated that we would not have needed a National Cathedral, that it is enough to have small churches: made out of wood, warm, matching the measure of the human soul. I agree that, for you as a person, for prayer, for introspection, any church is sufficient and appropriate, be it big or small, in a village or in the mountains. Through a cathedral, however, you present and represent yourself as a nation. You go to the National Cathedral to feel that you are part of a history which has its suffering and greatness, and which has always relied on faith in God. The Romanian nation, whose history is an expression of the history of the Church, needs such a symbolic representation. The National Cathedral is, in essence, a monument dedicated to our history’s long line of heroes, known or unknown, commemorated or not. From the heroes of the wars of Alexander the Good, Stephen the Great, Michael the Brave, from the wars of independence and world wars, including even up to the heroes of the communist prisons, who died for the honor and conscience of our nation. The Cathedral is a symbol of respect for sacrifice and dignity.
The cost of the National Cathedral, as we found out, is one hundred ten million euros. A simple calculation, for a population of 20 million, as the statistics present us, reveals that each Romanian citizen contributes to the building of the cathedral with approximately five euros. Let us recognize that this is a minuscule sum; the benefit for each person’s dignity is worth far more. We did not even account for the blood shed for national causes. Similarly, we have heard voices saying that we could have built schools or hospitals, roads or water supplies. I allow myself to say that we have state institutions, which have budgets and obligations to build schools or hospitals, roads and water supplies. If all such institutions took the Romanian Orthodox Church as a model for determination and patriotism, generosity, responsibility, and efficiency, today we would be among the elite countries of Europe.
Small aspirations create small people, big aspirations create big people. What else should the National Cathedral be for us? Those thousand square meters must remain a space free of ideologies, conflicts, or inter-ethnic hatred. It must be a space where the love for our neighbor and for our nation has its resonance, vibration, and dominion. The National Cathedral is imposing because it must bring together the past and present as premises for perspective. Recently, the president of the Romanian Academy, the brave Ioan-Aurel Pop said: “A person who loses his memories becomes a cripple, and a people which refuses to understand the dimension of life conventionally known as the past, decays and gradually dies out. Without historical consciousness we cannot live in collectivities, including those collectivities called people, nations, states.” There is nothing more accurate!
Let us rejoice, therefore, that we are contemporaries of this accomplishment which is nowhere near close to an act of grandeur, but of honor. And the honor belongs, undoubtedly, to the generations which made such an achievement possible. It is proven, both in history and in life, that God rewards worthiness with worthiness.
Adrian Alui Gheorghe