Hoping they’ll die first

Tustin parishioners say Romanian government not playing fair with those whose property was seized by Communists

The source for the following story was a news release provided to California Catholic Daily by Fr. Chris Terhes of Saint John the Baptist Romanian Catholic Mission in Tustin.

A group of parishioners from Saint John the Baptist Romanian Catholic Mission in Tustin sent a letter on April 24 to the Prime Minister of Romania expressing opposition to plans by the Romanian government to stop offering full restitution for properties confiscated in the country during the Communist regime, according to a statement issued yesterday. 

The Romanian government wants instead to offer 15 percent compensation over a 12-year period at the current market value of the property, the statement said.

“Most of the victims of the Communist regime from Romania are old, and what the Romanian Government hopes to do with this law is for them to die before they can get their confiscated properties back,” said Fr. Chris Terhes, the priest of the Mission.

Romania has become the latest country in Eastern Europe struggling to find a solution for the millions of people whose homes, churches, private factories and land were confiscated by the Communist regime following World War II.

The European Court of Human Rights has mandated that the government of Romania come up with a law that will resolve the issue once and for all by July 2012.

“The fact that these victims of Communists in Romania could not get back in 20 years what was taken away from them by force is sad enough,” said Fr. Terhes. “Evaluating these properties at the current market value, but paying them 15 percent over almost another 20 years, is simply ridiculous.”

Ioana Ciupe of Anaheim, one of the co-signers of the letter, said her family had two houses in her hometown that were confiscated by the Communists.

“My great-grandmother refused to leave one of these houses, and she stayed on the entrance stairs while the Communist bulldozers were demolishing the house,” Ciupe said. “She went on a hunger strike and died later with a broken heart dispossessed of everything she had.”

Ciupe’s parents have been fighting for 20 years to get these properties back and “this law would commit a second crime against my family and against so many others in the same situation,” Ciupe said.

The Prime Minister of Romania, Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, has admitted publicly that the law “will create an injustice,” but he is still committed to support it. He said that the reason his government is offering only 15 percent is because “there is no money in the budget.”

“It is not the fault of the victims of the Communist regime that the politicians leading Romania after the fall of Communism did not know how to manage the country, and the solution found now by the current government is to victimize again the victims of the Communist regime,” the parishioners said in their letter to the prime minister.

Saint John the Baptist Romanian Catholic Mission is part of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, an Eastern Rite Church in full communion with the pope. The Romanian Greek-Catholic Church was the only Church abolished by the Communists in Romania, and had all its properties confiscated by the government.

To read a story from The Associated Press about the situation, Click Here.

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