(Romania Insider) - The Romanian Orthodox Church sent Varsanufie Prahoveanul (in picture), bishop of the Bucharest Archbishopy, to hold the mass at the Rahova Church on Sunday, May 26, where Romanian businessman Gigi Becali, who is a well known financier of the church and is outspoken in his religious views, was imprisoned a week ago. The event was much debated by the Romanian media, with many being outraged that the church had sent its second most important official because of Becali’s large donations. It is as yet uncertain whether Becali actually attended the mass, as some local sources suggest that in the end, he did not show up.
Most media comments came as it is the first time after a long while when the Orthodox Church sent one of its top representatives to organize a mass in jail. Becali donated some USD 2 million to the Patriarchy, mainly to build the new cathedral.
Gigi Becali owns the football Club Steaua, and is known for his businesses involving the sale of land plots in the Northern area of Bucharest. Romania’s Supreme Court sentenced Becali to three years imprisonment for the MApN (Defense Ministry) land exchange case. Former minister Babiuc and former Chief of Staff General Dumitru Cioflină also received two-year jail sentences.
According to the bill of indictment, between 1996 and 1999, the Defense Ministry, which managed the state owned land in Voluntari, near capital Bucharest, exchanged some land plots – 28.8 hectares with Gigi Becali. This land exchange cost the Romanian state a total amount of over USD 890,000.