Thursday, April 29, 2010

Romanian Greek Catholics: Memorandum pt. 1

The following is taken from the Summary Content of a Memorandum sent to all major members of the Romanian Government in 2002 addressed from the Greek-Catholic Believers from Romania and from the Entire World.

It is a difficult document to read.

Anyone who has suffered the demeaning yoke of oppression, of ANY kind, will recognize the extreme effort that it takes to approach the oppressor possessed of the full dignity of the human condition, and demand your right to operate freely and without restraint and surely without fear of imprisonment and loss of life and property, knowing that you will be ignored, mocked in public or in private, and perhaps even subjected to more intense pressures because of your daring to challenge the authority born of economic, political and military might. It is an important background document for those who have an interest in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue and the health and well being of eastern Catholic Churches in central or eastern European countries.  The Romanian Greek-Catholic Church played a pivotal and courageous role in the firm establishment of Romanian language and culture within the geopolitical boundaries that constitute modern Romania.  For that alone she should not be consigned to the dustbin of history.  I will post more on that in a subsequent article.  The outcome of the memorandum has not resulted in much change in circumstance over the ensuing eight years to the present.


Most respected Representatives of Romania,

With great regret we have reached the firm conclusion that, even though more than 12 years have passed since the Anti-Communist Revolution in 1989, the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome in Romania continues to be extremely discriminated against.

This discrimination is mostly based on political and religious reasons, and is manifested through the following conducts:

* Complete limitation on the rights to justice of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church Unite with Rome, in Romania.

* Refusal by the State of Romania to return all nationalized and confiscated goods to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, in Romania.

* Legislative acts drawn to limit even in our present times the nationalization and confiscation that took place in 1948.

* Allowing incitement to take place on religious motives and reasons.

* Refusal by the State of Romania to apply the established laws and permitting for these to be disrespected by some members of staff and by other diverse pressure groups.

* Authorizing the illegal demolition and destruction of religious edifices and peripheral establishments that are part of our Church.

*Consenting to sell and destroy the goods of our Church, even when some of them were declared
to be valued objects of the National Treasury...

Due to the loss and dereavement of the churches, rectory homes and all pertaining properties, the Greek-Catholic believers feel as though there is no appropriate place of prayer and recollection for their spiritual lives and desires. The present government of Romania continues to practice the same politics as the Communist one, which in 1948 terminated all the functions of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, and confiscated all of its goods. Out of the over 2030 churches that initially belonged to the above-mentioned, only 136 of them were returned, making it impossible to practice the religion freely and in a normal manner, the priests and the faithful celebrating the Holy Sacraments in more than 350 improvised places (such as chapels, garages, refectories, heating stations, etc.). We did not succeed in receiving back neither the cathedral churches from Oradea, Baia-Mare, or Gherla, nor the vicariate church from Bucharest.

The State of Romania sustains through its central and local institutions an atmosphere of a so-called "active non-intervention" via which it tries to throw its entire legal obligation to the restitution of the goods to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church towards beneficiaries of these goods. These beneficiaries are represented by either its own created institutions or by the Romanian Orthodox Church. The above described is an actual abuse that creates disintegration, grief, confusion, and sometimes even violence amongst the citizens of Romania. Due to the hostile policy practiced by the State of Romania towards the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, of the multiple intimidating actions, many believers do not dare to declare themselves Greek-Catholics for fear of losing their jobs! This fact has become obvious from the 2001 Report of the Bureau for Democracy, Religious Liberty and Work of the American Government, as well as from the Report of the American State Department which is referenced in regards to the religious freedom in Romania, presented in the attached addendum's.

We are aware of the fact that the Romanian Orthodox Church is the majoritarian representative and that almost all of the employees of the State of Romania are of the Orthodox religion. However, even though we are a minority in the country, along with the Roman-Catholics, Reformed, Neo-Protestants, Mozaics, we consider ourselves free citizens that have the right to live boundless and full of demnity in Romania, having the right for protection from the authorities of the State.

The Romanian Orthodox Church is our sister Church, and she is not the one to be held liable for the nationalization and confiscation of our goods. The responsible party is the State of Romania! We cannot accept this dismemberment between our Greek Catholic and Orthodox believers, a dismemberment that is directly or indirectly created by the State of Romania. The present State of Romania is the direct and rightful inheritor of the Communist State, which tried to make extinct the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome between the years 1945-1989. It was the Communist State that confiscated the goods, liquidated the parishes, persecuted and prosecuted the clergy and part of the active population. The Communist State was the one to constantly and systematically stalk and persecute, for a time amounting to over four decades, the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome. This was done with extreme detail and consistency, and the end result was a complete eradication of the existence of this Church.

We would like to point out to the Romanian State that the great majority of the Episcopalian buildings, schools, academies, monasteries, churches and functional buildings and forestry areas were all built out of the funds, strength and will of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, or they might have been received from church-like authorities other than the State of Romania, and foremost, they were acquired long before the final formation and unification of the National State of Romania in 1918! Another issue we would like to point out is that in our whole history, there has never been a power, foreign or not, that has even attempted to confiscate the goods and properties of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome! It was through all types of abusive acts that the State of Romania brutally took and then donated the properties to which they had not contributed in the very first place!

Furthermore, in its constant trials of suppression of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, the State of Romania permits, even in our present times, the overly abusive demolition (dismemberment, burning) of many of our churches, as well as the destroying of other mobile or immobile goods that are still part of the Church's patrimony and treasure. Based on these reasons, and hoping that justice still exists in Romania, the direct party of dialogue for the Greek-Catholic followers is and will always remain the State of Romania.

In the 21st century, at the portal of the entrance of Romania into NATO and the European Community, such abuses cannot be tolerated by rights or by facts! Furthermore, with the great hope that the situation in Romania will re-establish itself to a normal level and that the human rights will finally be respected, the Romanians that reside in the country and outside of it, including the Greek Catholic ones, support fully the entrance of Romania into NATO. We have to keep aware of the fact that the representatives of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome have remained faithful to the document signed in Snagov, and continue to support the integration of Romania into the European and Euro-Atlantic structures.

An organization was also founded in the Chicago area of the United States, under the name of "Romania NATO Alliance," which has as its founders a considerable amount of Greek-Catholics. In December of 2001, this community-like organization had exerted great influence in an extremely decisive manner on the motion supported by Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, so that Romania would be accepted into NATO.

Due to the fact that many processes of legislative procedures had already been initiated and filed in the past with the State of Romania by the high ranking officials of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, and all have unmistakably failed, we, the parishioners of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, from Romania and the entire world, feel it is our obligation of conscience to initiate our own process and action in order to defend our rights. Therefore, based on the main principles of freedom, as well as the historic, social, cultural and religious arguments enumerated in the completion of this document, we directly address to you this MEMORANDUM.

We firmly demand that the State of Romania:

Respect the constitutional rights of existence and practice of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, the right to celebrate and practice its own religion in respectable locations, the right to propagate the given beliefs, and the right to openly communicate the beliefs and laws of the religion. This includes the right to freely express the self identity of all Greek-Catholic believers, as well as those of Greek-Catholic descent and religious background.

Immediately stop the discrimination and the constant attempt of suppression of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome.

To stop the demolition and dismemberment of our churches and to immediately provide security to all Greek-Catholic Churches and other buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, which under Law NR. 422/18.07.2001, are stated to be historic monuments that shall be fully protected.

Immediate and unconditional restitution to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, all of the goods that were nationalized and confiscated by the Communist State of Romania. This shall be done by creating and forming firm legislative statements, which shall conform to the Constitution of Romania and with all the international treaties to which the State of Romania is bound to respect.

The State of Romania shall do restitution of the goods without the intervention of any intermediary party (i.e. various third parties or current beneficiaries of the confiscated goods). The dialogue between the Orthodox and Greek-Catholic representatives should only pertain to the actual final identification of the goods and of the practices through which this restitution will take place. The issue of future access and usage of the properties by the Orthodox parishes will only be resolved at the time when all restitution was finalized with the Greek-Catholic parishes. This is the decent and normal way that will ensure Christian and brotherly love between the two religions. This procedure of restitution was expressed and manifested by the representatives of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome ever since 1990.

The immediate abolition of Law-Decree NR. 126/1990, for its unconstitutionality reason. The transfer of the juridical duties of a State to a mixed ecclesiastic committee, which would carry out the restitution, is illegal, abusive and curtailing the right to justice for the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome. It also eludes the constitutional right and obligation of a State.

To apply through practice the actual abrogation and consequences of Decree-Law NR. 9 from December 31, 1989, due to the fact that this is considered to be an act "against the Romanian people," and cannot constitute a source of human rights. Nothing and nobody, let alone someone in an abusive possession of power or in the possession of unconstitutional legislative acts, can operate or put into practice the actual process of changes for the properties.

To rush the restitution of the property rights (and placing immediately in possession) of all agricultural and forestry occupied land belonging to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church.

To return a given amount of funds in order to rebuild the infrastructure of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome, which would stand as a mending act. These funds were initially taken away from the above-mentioned at the time it was dismounted by the Communist State.

It was 110 years ago, in 1892, when Greek-Catholic Romanians from Transylvania belonging to the Memorandum Movement were demanding equal rights for the Romanian nation and all in one voice would pronounce that: "The existence of a nation cannot be discussed! It can only be affirmed!"

Therefore, today, all of us in one voice are asking for our legitimate and lawful right for the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, by paraphrasing the famous declaration, we pronounce that: The existence of a Church cannot be discussed. it can only be affirmed!

We consider that these are our lawfully given rights, and we ask of the State of Romania to respect them fully. We do not wish to entreaty the international forums, so we can finally have our rights given to us in our own country! If the State of Romania does not intervene urgently in this matter, we will see it necessary to address the issue as an international concern.

We demand that the Romanian State follow the example of other states in the region and proceed to an immediate and unconditional restitution to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome of all goods that were nationalized and confiscated by the Communist State of Romania.

We would like to mention the fact that we wish to resolve the situation of our Church by October 25, 2002. After this given date, we will consider that everything that should and could have been done through civilized negotiations has already taken place and that our only solution to stop the discrimination against the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church United with Rome is to address this issue to the international forums.

At this point, we want to remind you of the words that were spoken by IPS Nicolae Corneanu, Archbishop of Timisoara and Orthodox Mitropolit of Banat, whom with lots of courage and feelings of brotherhood had said: "We have not entered into your churches to steal them away from you, but to return them to you when the time has come."


© 2003-2009 Romanian Catholic Diocese of Canton, PO Box 7189 Canton OH 44705-0189


  1. I read your other post about the destruction of Catholic Churches in Romania. Its a sad state of affairs, thanks for posting these things.

  2. One should not lose sight of the fact that the Uniates are just 191,000 in Romania against 18 million Orthodox! Even in the most densely Uniate counties (Like Maramures, Satu-Mare, Cluj) they are no more than 35,000 against populations of 500-600,000. In Banat, where they have been returned their churches, they are no more than 10,000 (In Timis county) and 5,000 (in Caras-Severin county) against 600,000 in majority Orthodox (in Timis) and 300,000 (in Caras-Severin). Much ado for nothing!

  3. One should not loose sight of the other fact that apparently there would be more Uniates if the Orthodox run Romanian government returned parish churches and did not otherwise economically and politically bully the Uniate population.

    And suppose this is all a part of the selective morality of the Orthodox faith that I hear so much about and hate to believe.

    If the numbers back you up, then stealing is all right. A sort of juridical theft. Do I have that right?


  4. Then I imagine we'll see a cessation of Uniate built churches being "renovated" to the ground, and an increase in the restoration of Uniate people and parishes.

    That's good to hear. I am sure it will become apparent when it begins to happen in earnest.


  5. I do not believe that. The Unia is in fact dying. Most of the Uniates who returned to Orthodoxy remained in the Orthodox Church.

  6. Interesting. A whole people are dying after having lived through nearly 100 years of oppressive behavior on the part of their national government, and now they are described as either dying a "natural" death or committing some strange form of communal suicide.

    Clearly there are public policies and practices that mitigate against being seen as a Greek Catholic in Romania, or this document would not have been compiled and delivered.

    Your response here is much like being turned away at a hospital emergency room because you have serious head injuries and are dying from them...

    Well of course you will die without treatment.


  7. "Nearly 100 years of oppressive behavior" means exactly 41 (forty one years). The Uniate church was abolished on the 31 October 1948 and reinstated on 31 December 1989. The Orthodox suffered as much under the communist regime with thousands of priests arrested and dead in jail whose sufferings are not recognized by the Uniates.
    I notice that you have some difficulties with figures. The present Uniate population represents 0.88% of the overall population of Romania of which 89.79% are Orthodox! The Uniates have 8 bishops for 191,000, claim 1239 parishes and 747 diocesan priest + 274 seminarians. The Orthodox have 48 bishops (including the diaspora), 12,855 priests for 13,500 parishes for a population of 18 million Orthodox. Make the calculations. They have a priest for every (roughly) 260 people, whereas the Orthodox have one priest for (roughly) 1500 people! They have a bishop for every 23,000, the Orthodox have a bishop for every 400,000. There is a bit of discrepancy, is it not? Their bishops and priests pledged their allegiance to the Pope but expect to be payed by the Orthodox whom they despise and disparage on every occasion. It is hardly a situation that can facilitate a "loving dialogue".

  8. It is WELL KNOWN that the Eastern- Rite Catholics, of Byzantine heritage have been Spitefully dealt with by the Romanian authorities and the Romanian Orthodox Church. To both of these - remember Ukraine, when able to, the Ukrainia Greek Catholics came out from the catacombes in their millions, to rid themselves of the Devil's Child - The Russian Orthodox Church.

  9. It is not beyond observation that the Orthodox World has a basic insecurity concerning the Catholic Church - no matter what its well known faults, in ALL its FULLNESS it is incomparable to any other so-called christian organiation etc, whether in social policy or in its discipline with regard to faith and morals that are resolute against the force of relative moralism. It is multi-ethnic, and its centre is not beholden to some mere national state with all the dangers and risks that imposes. Divine Will has ensured this state of affairs, otherwise it would not have endured the way it has


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