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Life and Times of Archbishop Victor Leu - Bishop kidnapped by KGB

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  • padrerom
    Life and Times of Archbishop Victor Leu + Bishop kidnapped by KGB in Vienna, interrogated by Beria in Lublyanka, and sentenced to death in Bucharest by Florian
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 25, 2003
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      Life and Times of Archbishop Victor Leu
      + Bishop kidnapped by KGB in Vienna, interrogated by
      Beria in Lublyanka, and sentenced to death in Bucharest

      by Florian Bichir (Fr.Anthimos)

      Vasile Leu was born in 1903 at Oancea, a village in Galatzi
      County. After graduating from the Seminary and Divinity School, he
      worked at the Bishopric of Roman, was a priest at St.
      Spiridon
      Church in Iasi, a confessor at Colentina Hospital in Bucharest,
      and
      then a priest at Jianu Parish, also in Bucharest. In 1948, the
      status
      of the Romanian Church began to worsen, with the communist
      regime prepared to cut it short. At the request of the Soviet Union,
      the Romanian Orthodox Church was ordered directly by Moscow to
      bring Romanian parishes abroad under Russian jurisdiction.
      Realizing that the screw was beginning to tighten and wanting
      to alert the Romanian Diaspora, a group of bishops headed by
      Grigorie Leu of Husi and Chesarie of Tomis decided to send some
      spokesmen to the Diaspora. Bishop Visarion Puiu was already
      abroad, but very ill, and the Romanian bishoprics were sup-
      posed to come under Moscow Patriachate jurisdiction set up by
      Stalin. So, after a secret meeting, the anti-communist hierarchs
      decided to send priests Florian Galdau and Vasile Leu abroad.
      On Aug. 21, 1948, Vasile Leu and Florian Galdau left Romania,
      jumping from the train in Timisoara near the station Isanova
      where they crossed the border to Yugoslavia. After being arrested
      and questioned by the Yugoslav secret police, they managed to
      escape and arrived in Austria. After a period spent in a refugee
      camp, the two priests contacted the Ecumenical Council and the
      Allied forces. They were released and took charge of the church in
      Salzburg, Austria. With the support of the Ecumenical Council, a big
      meeting of all the Romanians from the Diaspora was organized in
      Salzburg. That's how the Romanians. Orthodox Autonomous
      Bishopric from Western Europe was set up. Vasile Leu was elected
      its leader because Visarion Puiu was paralyzed in a health spa in
      Switzerland. Atkinson, the spokesman of the Ecumenical Council,
      and the three Allied powers immediately recognized the election of
      bishop Leu, who received a passport to travel freely. Then some
      representatives of the new Bishopric went to Munich to discuss the
      ordainment of Vasile Leu with the three exiled Russian bishops.
      In december 1949, Vasile Leu was ordain bishop by Metropolitan
      Seraphim Lade, Archbishop Stephan and bishop Filip (all from
      ROCOR) with the name Victor-Vasile. From then on, the bishop Leu
      established many Romanian Orthodox parishes and tried to unify the
      Diaspora. He participated in the Conference of Orthodox bishops
      from the Diaspora, he paid a call to King Mihai in Switzerland, and
      Queen Anne confessed to him. King Mihai, as the monarch of the
      exiled Romanians, asks him to meet with Horia Sima and make him
      stop the attacks against the Crown. The bishop Visarion Puiu
      blessed him and asked to find another residence, because the Swiss
      pressed him to convert to Catholicism. In London, all the Romanians
      from the BBC, including Ion Ratiu welcomed Bishop Leu, and he
      was officially received at the
      Foreign Ofiice and by the Archbishop of London. In September
      1949, he initiated the first religious broadcast at BBC, speaking
      against communism, the persecutions in Romania and against all
      the newly elected bishops in his country. Bishop Leu wrote in all the
      newspapers of the Diaspora, and had a weekly broadcast at the
      BBC. He spoke at American broadcasting stations in Salzburg and
      Munich, the British station in Graz, the French station in
      Innsbruck
      and frequently at Radio Paris. His speeches were in Romania and
      urged people to fight against communism. He set up dozens of
      Romanian parishes and delivered thousands of certificates to
      Romanian refugees, helping them immigrate to other countries. It
      was not long until a response was heard in Romania. His father,
      Bishop Grigorie Leu, was having a terrible time of it. He was removed
      from the metropolitan seat and compelled to retire, the reason given
      being the disappearance of the Bishopric of Husi. An adamant anti-
      communist, Bishop Grigorie had warned Petru Groza- the prime
      minister at that time, when the Sovroms were in fashion- that it was
      not right to turn even the Patriarchate into a Sovrom-Partiarchate.
      Becoming a deadly foe of the communist regime and also of
      Moscow, Bishop Vasile Leu was kidnapped on August 16, 1952 in
      the British zone of Vienna, after being asleep with an injection. Two
      days later, he woke up, shaved and with dyed hair, in a Soviet
      army prison. He was delivered to Moscow and imprisoned at
      Ljubljanka. He was interrogated for seven months, under the
      charge that he was working for the American and British secret
      services. Beria himself attended some of the inquisitions. Vasile Leu
      was transferred to Bucharest, where by the sentence number 2417/
      20.11.1954, he was convicted to death for .the crime of treason. He
      refused to be pardoned and deliberately refused to commission any
      other person to make such a demand in his name. At the public trial
      in the Territorial Court Martial of Bucharest, Archbishop Victor-
      Vasile
      Leu stated: "I realize that you intend to find out about my
      involvement
      in the British intelligence service. I told you and I repeat: I
      didn.t spy
      for anyone. I'm an opponent of this regime in Romania, which turned
      the country into a prison. I carried on this activity because the
      communist regime in Romania is a strait jacket on the Romanian
      people's soul and nature. The only sentence that would honor me
      and this court is capital punishment". In a statement he made during
      the interrogation, he mentioned: "I consider communism as the main
      enemy of the Christianity and that.s why I'm fighting against it,
      whatever happens. This fight has become my first concern".
      After passing through all the communist prisons of Romania,
      Vasile Leu was released in 1964 with note number 5949. His more
      than 300-page file from the Securitate (former secret police) as
      well as the testimonies of those who knew him in prison show that
      Bishop Leu didn.t give up and refused to make any compromises.
      Teohar Mihadas, a Romanian writer, declared in his memoirs: "Leu
      remained Leu" (lion). He went on hunger strikes countless times,
      being a leader even in prison. After his release, he refused to
      recognize the Romanian Patriarchate jurisdiction and joined the
      traditionalist orthodox Romanians, using the Julian calendar
      (nr. True Orthodox Church of Romania. Archbishop Leu refuse to join
      with part of Sl`tioara and became a lidere of one jurisdiction of
      romanian old-calendarist). He was buried at Cernica Monastery in
      1978, rejecting any compromises to his dying day.

      Fr. Anthimos (Florian) BICHIR
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