EGMR: Grand Chamber hearing in a case concerning the claim for the restitution of a place of worship – Lupeni Greek-Catholic Parish and Others v. Romania (application no. 76943/11)

von Dr. Georg Neureither

The European Court of Human Rights is holding a Grand Chamber hearing on Wednesday 2 March 2016 at 9.15 a.m. in the case of Lupeni Greek Catholic Parish and Others v. Romania (application no. 76943/11). The case concerns the claim for the restitution of a place of worship belonging to the Greek-Catholic Church that was transferred to the ownership of the Orthodox Church under the totalitarian regime.

The applicants are the Lupeni Greek-Catholic Parish, the Lugoj Greek-Catholic Diocese and the Lupeni Greek-Catholic Archpriesthood, all of which are situated in Romania. They belong to the Eastern-Rite Catholic (Greek-Catholic or Uniate) Church.

Following the dissolution in 1948 of the Lupeni Greek-Catholic Parish, the Lugoj Greek-Catholic Diocese and the Lupeni Greek-Catholic Archpriesthood, a church and an adjoining courtyard that had belonged to the Lupeni Greek-Catholic Parish were transferred in 1967 to the ownership of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Lupeni Greek-Catholic Parish was legally re-established on 12 August 1996; it comes under the authority of the Lugoj Greek-Catholic Diocese (the second applicant) and the Lupeni Greek-Catholic Archpriesthood (the third applicant).

After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, legislation was passed in Romania (Legislative Decree no. 126/1990, as amended by Law no. 182/2005, hereafter the “special law”) specifying that the legal situation of property which had belonged to the Greek-Catholic parishes and been transferred to the ownership of the Orthodox Church would be decided by joint committees made up of representatives of both denominations, who were to take into account “the wishes of the adherents of the communities in possession of these properties”. In the event of disagreement, the party with an interest entitling it to bring proceedings could do so under ordinary law ...

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