A Seventh-day Adventist pastor serving in Italy has been awarded Romania’s Order of Merit for his philanthropic work and community involvement during the current pandemic. Corneliu Benone Lupu, who serves the Seventh-day Adventist Romanian community in Italy, was appointed to the National Order of Merit with the rank of Knight, according to a decree signed by Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, on August 6, 2020.
The recognition was shared with Athanasius of Bogdania, vicar bishop of the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of Italy. According to the official release, both Romanian citizens working in Italy will be decorated “as a sign of great appreciation and gratitude for the solidarity and dedication shown in their intense social and philanthropic activity in favor of Romanian citizens living in the territory of the Italian Republic.” The government release added that the assistance work carried out by both members of the clergy “helped limit the impact that the current epidemiological crisis has had on the Romanian community and especially on vulnerable social groups.”
According to sources of the Romanian Orthodox Church, many Romanians working in Italy have a precarious financial situation. “The effects of the coronavirus crisis have brought them to the limit,” they said. Orthodox and Adventist congregations catering to Romanians in Italy have provided not only food but also medicines, hygiene products, and even cash to cover unpaid apartment rents.
In comments to Notizie Avventisti in Italy, Lupu said that it is a prize that he shares with many others. “This honor is not only mine but of all of the Roman churches and pastors who have worked together during this period.”
Lupu explained that it was awarded to him mainly for the work accomplished in these last months of the coronavirus emergency. “But we have always worked as a team, so the merit is [for] all of us, but above all for God, who accompanied and supported us. God is the only one who gets all the credit for everything we have accomplished,” he said.
The National Order of Merit is an honor of ancient tradition in Romania. Abolished after the communist revolution, it was restored by a public act in 2000. According to official sources, the two honors have been awarded under the “Order of Faithful Service.”
Lupu and his family have lived in Italy for years. He has served the Romanian-speaking Adventist communities of Turin and Rome. He is currently serving the Italian-speaking churches of Rome Lungotevere and Rieti and the Latin American community in the capital.