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October 5, 2022

Religious freedom in Romania reflected in U.S. Department of State’s report

The U.S. Department of State on Wednesday published its International Religious Freedom Report for 2015 that breaks down the subject by countries.

About Romania, it says that the country’s constitution and other laws guarantee freedom of religion and include provisions for the protection of minority religious groups. Laws provide religious groups with state support and access to the army, hospitals, retirement homes, penitentiaries, and orphanages.

‘Groups must register under a three-tiered system to receive benefits. Government restrictions prevented some religious groups from gaining official recognition and others from obtaining the return of religious properties confiscated between 1940 and 1989. The Greek Catholic Church, in particular, said it was unable to take possession of many of its churches after authorities failed to enforce court rulings,’ shows the report.

The Department of State adds that reportedly, local officials, often under the influence of Orthodox clergy, continued to hinder the access of non-Orthodox religious groups to cemeteries. Some politicians criticized a decision to allow construction of a mosque. Media reported the Orthodox Church pressured school officials to require Orthodox religious education classes for all children.

The Romanian Government is said to have continued to implement recommendations of the International Commission on the Holocaust in Romania and expanded Holocaust education in school curricula. In December the constitutional court struck down new legislation granting priority to property cases brought by Holocaust survivors and facilitating the return of the property due to a legal challenge by the president over other, unrelated parts of the legislation. The government was pursuing reintroducing the measure.

Anti-Semitic incidents, including desecrations of synagogues, Holocaust denial, and events commemorating former pro?Nazi leaders of the Legionnaire Movement occurred in 2015.

Members of some minority religious groups, including the Greek Catholic Church and the Seventh?day Adventist Church, reported cases of Orthodox priests who forbade non-Orthodox burials in denominational and public cemeteries.

There were numerous media reports of vandalism against the site of a proposed mosque, including burying frozen pigs, releasing piglets to graze, and setting up displays of crosses on mosque grounds.

Minority religious groups said the media often reported the religious affiliation of criminals from minority religions.

U.S. Embassy officials continued to raise concerns with the government about the slow pace of religious property restitution and the importance of full recognition of the Holocaust and improvement in Holocaust education. Embassy representatives and visiting Department of State officials met with leaders of the Greek Catholic Church to discuss Orthodox-Greek Catholic relations and incidents of discrimination. Together with Jewish community leaders and organizations, the embassy supported efforts to curb anti-Semitism. Embassy representatives attended events promoting religious tolerance sponsored by Muslim communities.

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