Bogdan-Petru Maleon


During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Church in Rome employed an intense propaganda meant to convert the Moldavian Orthodox space to Catholicism. The De Propaganda Fide College, through its missionaries, and the Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, through the printings in almost all languages spoken in the areas in which missionary actions took place, played an essential role in these endeavors.
In the 17th century, more exactly in 1657, Pope Alexander VII proposed a new division, comprising Moldavia and Wallachia, which was going to enter the jurisdiction of the Apostolic Nunciature in Vienna. Despite the wish to convert to Catholicism, in Moldavia, the missionaries signalized a gap between desire and possibility. The frequently changing rulers on the country’s throne hindered their endeavors. The Catholic missionaries signalized among the causes for the impossibility of attracting the Moldavians to Rome the following ones: the ignorance manifested by Orthodox believers regarding the sacraments, the precarious theological education, and some pagan customs maintained by the Orthodox.
This work mentions authors like Paolo Bonnicio, Bartolomeo Bassetti, Giulio Mancinelli, Paul Beke, Francesco Maria Spera, etc., who describe various situations or customs of the Moldavian religious world in their works. The vast majority signalizes insurmountable obstacles in the attempt to approach Orthodoxy to Catholicism, presented by the author. He also focuses intensely on divorce/remarriage from the religious perspective. In addition, it is shown that the absence of a solid hierarchy and the vacancy of the bishop’s office led to the moral decline of the Catholic priests. Similarly, the observations of the Moldavian Orthodox clergy in the respective period revealed the failure in converting Orthodoxy to Catholicism. Finally yet importantly, we should also consider the moral and intellectual dimension of the missionaries, which was sometimes precarious and results from their incapacity to become cultural and spiritual reference points. In conclusion, the number of believers obedient to the Pope was considerably diminishing.

The Observance of the Confessional Identity of the Moldavian Catholic Population in the 16th–17th Centuries