With this article I introduce to the readers of Orthodoxy in Dialogue a Romanian Orthodox woman, Anca Lucia Manolache (1923-2013), a theologian who remained surprisingly active even through the communist years. Women had been allowed to study theology before the advent of communism in 1946 in order to teach religion in public schools. Due to the ban on this in communist regimes throughout the Soviet bloc, Romanian women who trained in theology before 1948 had to reorient themselves toward other teaching jobs. Beginning in 1991, two years after the fall of communism in Romania, the door was reopened for women to be trained as religion teachers.
During the communist period, laywomen were almost unheard of in the country’s two Orthodox theological institutes that remained open. Yet it was during communism that Manolache, who had prior degrees in law and philology, embarked on the study of theology. In 1959 she was arrested by the communist authorities for “omitting to denounce her friends.” When she eventually got out of prison she studied toward a doctorate in theology under another famous political prisoner who was also released from prison in 1964, Father Dumitru Stăniloae. In 1964 she was hired to work at the Romanian Orthodox publishing house, The Biblical and Missionary Institute, in Bucharest. Among other duties, she was the main editor of Stăniloae’s Romanian translation of the Philokalia (12 volumes in total), as well as the copy editor of his magnum opus, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (known as The Experience of God in English).
While leading a rather discreet life she began reflecting on the role of women in the Church. She was allowed to participate in some international forums dealing with this question, and even managed to publish her views in several articles beginning in the 1970s. Read More