Los Angeles, CA
– Calling it a “scandalous and cynical act, reminiscent of the totalitarian era,
” a spokesperson for the Romanian Greek-Catholic Association
provided to reporters documents released by the Greek-Catholic Parish of Budesti (Romania), which revealed the abuse of the local authorities that offered lands that belonged to the Jewish holocaust victims to compensate the local Greek-Catholic Parish for its legal claims.
In the documents, The Maramures County Commission For Applying the Law of Land Fund, a Romanian governmental institution at the county level that oversees the restitution of the properties seized by the communist regime, ruled that the Greek-Catholic Parish of Budesti should receive 12 acres from the land that belonged to the parish prior of being confiscated by the communists in 1948. Despite this decision, the local officials from Budesti offered to the Greek-Catholic Parish land that formerly was owned by Romanian Jews who were uprooted to Nazi death camps during World War II. The original Greek-Catholic land has been given by the authorities to the Romanian Orthodox Church which didn’t have any properties prior to 1948 in Budesti.
The Greek-Catholic Parish has refused to accept the offer because “it would serve as a grave injustice not only for us, but for the families of the Jews that were exterminated in the Nazi’s concentration camps,” stated Father Calin Hosu, the Greek-Catholic priest from Budesti, in his release.
In 1948, two Greek-Catholic churches and 40 acres of land were taken from Budesti Greek-Catholic Parish by the Communist regime. Now, more than sixty years later, the parish hasn’t yet received any of the properties back. “At the current moment we are still celebrating our religious services in a private house while our churches are kept locked, unavailable for our community to worship in”, says Fr. Hosu.
Father Chris Terhes, President of the Romanian Greek Catholic Association, which brought this subject to the attention of the American media, called the action “scandalous,” and a “reminiscent at the local governmental level of totalitarian behavior”.
"Our Church is simply demanding restitution of our rightful properties that we were deposed of by the communist regime, and we are not interested in barbaric offers from Romanian authorities such this one,” Fr. Terhes said.
According to the Association, about 2,500 Greek-Catholic churches along with parish houses, cemeteries and other type of properties were confiscated by the communist regime in 1948, in an effort to eradicate the Greek-Catholic Church in Romania. In 20 years after the fall of the communism, the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church was able to recuperate only about 200 churches.
“For the faithful of our Church this situation, perpetuated by the Romanian Government, has serious human rights implications, in that they are being deprived of their universal right to worship freely in the manner of their choice. In Budesti, for example, from two churches confiscated from us by the communist regime in 1948 we didn’t get anyone back, therefore our believers have to pray, even today, in a private house like the first Christians that tried to hide their belief because were threaten with the persecution by the Roman Empire,” said Fr. Terhes.
“This case is symptomatic for the situation in Romania, where the Government at the top level tries to present itself as one that honors the international conventions and offers equal access to justice for all its citizens, while at the local level the abuses and injustices are perpetuated by many officials that consider themselves above and untouchable by the law,” he continued.
“Besides the violation of the human rights, this situation has serious implications for Americans or anyone wishing to do business with Romania, in that they could never be assured of honest and equitable enforcement of law or court judgements there,” stated Fr. Terhes.
“We ask the international community to help us putting an end to these abuses and injustices that are still taking place in Romania, and help everyone there to have open access to the universal right of worshiping according to their conscience,” Fr. Terhes concluded.
Romanian Greek-Catholic Association is a non-profit organization located in South of California which supports the Greek-Catholic Church in Romania, assists the needy in Romania, and provides public awareness about the discrimination and persecution of the Greek-Catholic minority in Romania.
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Fr. Chris Terhes
Romanian Greek-Catholic Association