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Romanian Orthodox leader condemns TV for "poisoning souls"
August 20, 2007 11:19 AM

CLUJ, Romania-A Romanian Orthodox Church leader on Wednesday criticized television stations for manipulating viewers and "poisoning the souls of Romanians" with violent programs.

"We are becoming a savage and uncouth people," Metropolitan Bartolomeu Anania told a gathering of more than 100,000 pilgrims at the Nicula Monastery in northwest Romania.

Anania, who is one of the possible successors to Patriarch Teoctist, who died last month, contended that violence on television was harming people's personalities.

"It's a diabolical technique which causes people to not be able to discern good from evil," the 86-year-old Anania claimed. "It is a slow crime that destroys the conscience and personality."

He said, however, that he watches television and owns a computer. He added that he was not "against modernity" or television itself, though he disapproved of the way he said it was used.

The Orthodox Church, which is predominate in Romania, is to hold an election on Sept. 12 to choose a new leader to replace Teoctist, who worked to improve ties with the Vatican.

Observers believe that Anania, if elected patriarch, would reverse a trend toward dialogue with the Catholic church.

On Wednesday, pilgrims flocked to the Nicula monastery, where Anania spoke, to kiss an icon believed to have miraculous healing powers.

According to legend, the icon of the Weeping Virgin, painted in 1691, wept for 26 days in 1699. The first miracle is believed by the faithful to have occurred in 1701 when it is said to have cured an army officer's wife who was going blind.

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