Vocations Flourish Among Greek-Catholics of Rumania

Diocese of Lugoj Has Ordained More Than Half of Its Priests in 9 Years

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KONIGSTEIN, JULY 29, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Eastern rite Catholic Church in Rumania is undergoing a rebirth following the persecution of the Communist regime.



That information was given by Bishop Alesandru Mesian of Lugoj, who over the last 9 years has ordained most of the priests his diocese has today, when he visited the headquarters of the international Catholic association "Aid to the Church in Need."

The Greek-Catholic Church's refusal to become part of the Rumanian Orthodox Church, as the Marxist government insisted, resulted in the imprisonment of 12 bishops and the martyrdom of seven of them.

"In the last 9 years, I have ordained 60 new priests and, at present, my diocese only has 105 priests, but in the seminary we have 30 young men preparing themselves for the priesthood," he said.

The bishop says that relations with the Latin rite Catholic Church are very good, reflected in the fact that in 19 churches of the Latin Catholic diocese of Timisoara and five churches of the Archdiocese of Alba Iulia both rites are alternated in celebrating the liturgy and the sacraments.

Ecumenical relations with the Rumanian Orthodox Church are also positive. "United, every year we celebrate the week of ecumenical international prayer from January 18-25."

"Since the fall of Nicholae Ceaucescu (1989), we enjoy religious freedom in Rumania, and present-day politics is even favorable to religions," the bishop revealed.

A clear problem, however, is the restitution of confiscated ecclesial properties. "Of the approximately 2,500 Greek-Catholic churches that existed in 1948 in Rumania only 150 have been returned between 1990 and today, and in my diocese, the relation is 235 to 47. Despite the existing legal normative, the authorities often do not show interest in the restitution of expropriated ecclesial properties.