Romania recalls communist past by discriminating against Greek-Catholic Church
What’s at Stake
- The right to freedom of religion and church autonomy
- The right to maintain control over church property
The Greek-Catholic Church in Romania has a long history of mistreatment at the hands of state authorities. It began in 1948 when the communist regime outlawed Greek-Catholicism – requiring all adherents to become Orthodox – and has continued to the present day.
Unlike communism, which came to an end in Romania in 1989, the unjust treatment of Greek-Catholic believers continues. On the contrary – there is an ever-increasing number of cases of Greek-Catholic parishes that have lost their property through confiscation by the Romanian Government. Buildings are then usually given to the Romanian Orthodox Church and the land used for other purposes by the government.
Even though the Greek-Catholic Church is once again officially recognized by the state, the Romanian Government has recently made it impossible for parishes to reclaim their properties or seek legal recourse. And to add further heartache, the authorities have forbidden Greek-Catholic priests access to public cemeteries on a number of occasions, preventing them from performing burials of their dead. A number of church buildings have also been torn down under unclear pretexts; others continue to be under threat of destruction. Court orders stopping these demolitions have been ignored.
To help them regain their ability to worship freely, Alliance Defending Freedom has partnered with the Romanian Greek-Catholic Association and is supporting a number of churches in reclaiming their property. Alliance Defending Freedom is also advocating for a clearer legal system that allows individuals and groups to address church property disputes in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. The case is before the European Court of Human Rights and is ongoing.
Our Role in the Case
Alliance Defending Freedom has submitted legal arguments to the European Court of Human Rights, stating that the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and that the actions taken against the Greek-Catholic church clearly undermine this freedom.