Orthodox, Catholics Share Parish Church

Hailed for Peacemaker Spirit

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ZALAU, Romania, JULY 7, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Greek Catholics celebrated on July 4 their first Mass in 62 years in the parish church of Bocsa, with what was described as a “festive and moving” atmosphere.

The Bosca parish is unique because, thanks to an agreement between Orthodox and Greek-Catholics, it will be shared between the two Churches.

The parish has been hailed as an example of conflict resolution between the two Churches, often at odds over patrimonial issues in former Soviet countries.

The Bocsa parish was confiscated by the Communist authorities in 1948 and given to the Orthodox Church, after the forced abolition of the Greek-Catholic Church. Catholics went underground until legalization was regained. Pope John Paul II re-established their hierarchy in 1990.
 
Since then, the Greek-Catholic community has worked legally for the devolution of confiscated churches (some 2,600 properties), whereas the Orthodox requested that the new balance of faithful be kept in mind, given that the Greek-Catholics have decreased significantly in numbers over the last decades.
 
In the specific case of Bocsa, the Greek-Catholic community asked the Orthodox to return the parish, or to seek an alternative over the use of the church.
 
The case was taken to court, while the Greek-Catholics continued to propose an agreement. At the beginning of 2010 the court decided in favor of the Greek-Catholics, though they continued to offer an agreement to the Orthodox.
 
The court proceeded last July 1 with the execution of the sentence, returning the church to the Catholics. A few hours later, the Orthodox accepted the proposal of an agreement, which was subsequently signed before the judicial authorities of Salaj.
 
Now both communities have committed themselves to share the use of the church with different timetables.
 
The first Greek-Catholic Mass was celebrated at 9 a.m. last Sunday. It was presided over by Father Valer Parau, dean of the Greek-Catholic Church of Zalau.
 
Father Valer insisted on forgiveness “to be able to heal wounds,” the Romanian Catholic agency Catholica.ro reported.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God,” he recalled. “We believe that with this realistic, pragmatic relationship in accord with the spirit of the Lord’s Gospel, other cases can be resolved in which Greek Catholics are obliged by the circumstances to pray in inadequate places. There is space for one another in the same church.”

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