Romanian Orthodox leader says television ‘poisons souls’

.- A Romanian Orthodox Church leader on Wednesday said television has been "poisoning the souls of Romanians" with violent programs.

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

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

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

The pilgrims had gathered around the icon of the Weeping Virgin, painted in 1691. Tradition says the painting wept for 26 days in 1699. The first miracle associated to the painting occurred in 1701 when it is said to have cured an army officer's wife who was going blind.

Bishop Anania is a possible successor to Patriarch Teoctist, who died last month. The Orthodox Church, which is predominant in Romania, is to elect a new patriarch Sept. 12.

Some observers say Bishop Anania, if elected patriarch, would reverse the work of Teoctist toward dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church

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