IBNA Op-Ed/Sanctification of the Cathedral, a historical event in many senses

IBNA Op-Ed/Sanctification of the Cathedral, a historical event in many senses

By Ilir Kulla

The ceremony of the sanctification of the Orthodox Church of Tirana is a historical event in many senses.

First of all, the heads of the Orthodox churches and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I were in Tirana to participate in the ceremony.

The founders of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church Visarion Xhuvani and Kristofor Kisi would have dreamed such moment, when the heads of the oldest Post-Byzantine church would come to Tirana and besides de jure recognizing the independence of the Albanian church, would also de facto recognize it.

The negotiations of the Albanian state for the recognition of the Independence of the Albanian Church by the Patriarchate lasted for 16 years and this has been one of the biggest diplomatic successes of the King Zog governance.

Secondly, this ceremony had gathered the heads of the Albanian politics, for one day putting aside the daily arguments.

Thirdly, president in Tirana today was the head of the Serb Orthodox Church and the representatives of the Russian church.

The Serb church has played a role against the Albanian church in its foundation in the 20s and 30s, but it has also been one of the most active organizations against Albanians of Kosovo in the ‘90s genocide.

The big Serbia doctrine was based on the Dogma that Kosovo is the heart of Europe, because most of the Orthodox churches in the Balkan are located there, stressing that these churches are Serb.

In the 1300s, Albanian princes of those lands were orthodox under the Byzantine, thus their churches could not be churches of someone else, in another language. The presence of his Excellency Irenej in Tirana puts an end to the dogma that only Serbs are “orthodox”, but it shows that a different behavior toward non fundamentalist beliefs such as the one of Serbian Church, prevented other tragedies in the Balkan, such as the one of Bosnia and his presence in Tirana today is the best testimony of the 30 year old failure of Serb ultra fundamentalism based on religious philosophy. At the end of the day, this was the main cause of the violent dissolution of former Yugoslavia.

Now I will say another two things which I’m convinced that they will cause debates, but debate also means success.

Today, the head of the Albanian Autochephalous Orthodox Church truly became the Albanian Archbishop, thus entering history. In spite of being Greek, he will join the Trio of the founders of our Church, Bishop Kristofor Kisi, Bishop Visarion Chuvani and Bishop Fan Stilian Noli. This is something that Albanians will not like it very much, but when Janullatos passes away, he will give the possibility to the next Albanian Bishop and the holy Synod to testify how the successors of Bishop Kisi will be.

Lastly, given that the history of the construction of this cathedral is a history  of success, the Albanian political class must realize why it’s urgent to build the Great Mosque of Tirana, in order to fulfill the symbols of religious cohabitation in the capital of Albania, but also not to discriminate Muslim believers who have been praying on the road on their holy days for 23 years”.

I believe that the Archbishop of Jerusalem can show to the Albanian political class how the three holiest temples of the three faiths, the Wailing Wall, the Holly Sepulchre and Al Aqsa Mosque are situated in a hill less than 2 kilometers from Jerusalem.

*The author is a known analyst in Albania, former Chairman of the State Committee of Cults, former prime minister adviser

** The opinion of the author doesn’t necessarily represent IBNA’s editorial line