Remarks on Church Property Restitution in Romania, With Special Focus on the Case of the Székely Mikó College

Keywords: nationalization, church property, denominational schools, restitution, contradictory jurisprudence, Romania, Székely Mikó College


The Soviet-style dictatorship nationalized church property, primarily educational and social institutions, run by the historical churches of national minorities. After the collapse of this political regime, a quest for restitution began, which raised complex private law issues. Finally, legislation favorable for restitution was created. However, the application of the legislation unchanged in its relevant provisions has two distinct phases: the first one is favorable for restitution. The second phase started after the Romanian accession into the EU, and NATO was less favorable. The external pressure for restitution, based on the rule of law, diminished. The restitution of the national minority church property today is largely perceived as a process conflicting with Romanian national interest. These changes and the complex legal problems raised and misused even by courts are illustrated in the case of Székely Mikó College.