Pope Benedict XVI prodded the government of Romania to ensure equal justice for all religions, during an October 21 meeting with the nation’s new ambassador to the Holy See, Bogdan T?taru-Cazaban.
Eastern-rite Romanian Catholics and their Orthodox counterparts have been in disputes for years over the possession and use of church properties that were seized from Catholics by the Communist government and turned over to Orthodox parishes. The Romanian Catholic Church endured brutal persecution during the Stalinist era, and today Catholics continue to press for compensation for the churches that were confiscated.
Pope Benedict raised the issue indirectly, speaking first about Romania’s liberation from Communist rule. He remarked that "so many years passed under the yoke of a totalitarian ideology leave deep scars in people's mentality,” creating challenges for the government as it strives to establish a new democracy. The Pontiff said that the Romanian people must now resist the lure of materialism and other “false ideologies,” promoting the common good and “making good use of your freedom.” In that context, the Pope said that “injustices inherited from the past should be repaired without being afraid of doing justice.” He spoke more directly about Catholic-Orthodox conflicts, saying that a mixed commission set up in 1998 to mediate disputes about parish property “must be reactivated.”
Citing the advances that have been made in ecumenical affairs—particularly since the visit to Romania by Pope John Paul II-- the Holy Father said: “Commitment to dialogue in charity and truth must be strengthened and joint initiatives promoted.”