IBNA Special Report/ By Edison Kurani
The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and leaders of the Orthodox church from several countries of the world, have arrived in Tirana to participate in the sanctification of the new Orthodox Cathedral “Resurrection of Christ” in Tirana.
This cathedral started to be built ten years ago and it’s been made functional two years ago. The ceremony taken place this Sunday was the first one of this magnitude, held in the cathedral. Present in the ceremony were the highest authorities of the Albanian state.
The ceremony was led by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Orthodox leaders from all around the world.
The sanctification of the church, was said in the ceremony, is a special blessing, not only for the Orthodox of Albania, but for the entire country. It’s an important testimony of Orthodoxy throughout the world.
Present in this event were heads of the Orthodox churches of the world such as the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos, Patriarch of Romania, Daniel, Archbishop of Greece, Geronimo, that of Cyprus, Christostomos, the Bishop of the Albanian Orthodox Church in the USA, Nikon Liolini, Archbishop of Warsaw, Sava, Archbishop of Serbia, Irinej, delegation of the Orthodox Church of Moscow, Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios Janullatos and the Patriarchates of Georgia and Antioch.
Also present were the president of Republic, Bujar Nishani, speaker of Parliament, Ilir Meta, prime minister Edi Rama, leader of opposition, Lulzim Basha, etc.
The new “Resurrection of Christ” cathedral in the center of Tirana has once been located in “Scanderbeg”square, at the place where Hotel Tirana International is located today. The church was destroyed by the communist regime in 1967.
The new cathedral is considered an important investment of the Orthodox community of Albania.
It has been built in the center of the capital, in a land which was given by the state in 2001-2005 as compensation of the land where the old cathedral was situated.
The 6-storey complex is comprised of the “Resurrection of Christ” cathedral, “Birth of Christ” chapel, the Bell Tower, the Headquarter of the Holy Synod and the Cultural Center. The architectural concept of the cathedral Church is based on the cycle that contains the meaning of endless time (eternity), the culminating axiom which (that which links Earth and Heaven) consists on the center of the ensemble.
Above the main entry there’s a big bronze cross, surrounded by two cobs, symbol of sacrificing love and dedication (John, 12.24).
The architectural conception of the Tower Bell 46 meter high was made by Archbishop Anastas. It consists of four Easter candles that symbolize the four Evangelists that announce the Resurrection. They are joined around the central axis of the stairs. The circular stair leads to two open stories, where 16 bells are situated. Over the bells there is a four sided clock which marks the time. The center contains an amphitheater with a capacity of 850 seats, which can also be used for shows, lectures and musical activities.
The president delivers a political message
The president of Republic, Bujar Nishani participated in the celebrations on the occasion of the sanctification of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church: “Resurrection of Christ” Cathedral in Tirana. He delivered a speech, where he talked about tolerance and religious cohabitation in Albania.
“Now, the sky of Tirana, of our holy capital, is made more beautiful on the 400th anniversary of its official foundation by the glorious edifice of the new Cathedral which has been just sanctified as the Resurrection of Christ”, said Nishani.
He pointed out the fact that “we’re a few weeks away from the historical decision of the European Union to grant Albania the EU candidate status”.
Nishani said that “we will deserve the status that we will be granted”.
He added: “In the big European family, each country has its history, tradition, language and religion. The European Union welcomes different nations and their religious beliefs in compliance with the basic human rights and the world wide principles of democracy. Each country that aspired to join this big family, will certainly offer at least something characteristic. I’m very happy and convinced that that our special and rare spiritual value-the perfect model of religious cohabitation-will turn into one of the most precious stone of the diverse European community crown. Being the only country in the world where religion was forbidden by law, Albania now has the possibility and the merit to proudly join the European Union by bringing, among others, the enrichment of harmony, tolerance and religious cohabitation of our old continent”, was the message of the president.
Nationalists hold a protest against the presence of the Serb patriarch
The ceremony was also accompanied by protests of nationalist groups. Red and Black Alliance (AK), a party with open nationalist tendencies, launched slogans against the presence of several archbishops in this event. Police intervened by arresting several of the protesters.
“Red and Black Alliance protest relates to the presence of the Serb Archbishop Ireneu in this ceremony. Archbishop of Serbia is against NATO and EU. He’s against the history of Albania and has declared that “Kosovo is Serbia” and “Serbia is better off outside the EU than without Kosovo”, said the representatives of AK.
Ilir Kulla analyzes the most important Orthodox event in Albania
Ilir Lulla, former director of the State Committee of Cults and prime minister’s adviser, prominent analyst in Albania, says that the ceremony of the sanctification of the Orthodox Church of Tirana is a historical event in many senses.
He stresses the fact that all leaders of world orthodoxy were present in the ceremony along with the heads of Albanian politics.
Kulla highlights the presence of the Serb Archbishop and the representatives of the Russian church. “The Serb Church has played a role against the Albanian church in its foundation in 1920-1930, but it has also been the most active organization 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 the most Orthodox churches of the Balkan are located there, stressing that these churches are Serb”, said Kulla.
He says that the presence of the Serb patriarch in Tirana “is the best testimony of the 30 year long failure of Serb ultra fundamentalism based on religious philosophy”.
Kulla sees this failure as the main cause of the violent dissolution of former Yugoslavia.
Analyst Ilir Kulla says that it’s now important to build the great mosque of Tirana. “The Albanian political class must realize that there’s an urgent need to build the Great Mosque of Tirana, in order to complete 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”.
Kulla also issues a message for Albanian politicians: “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”. /ibna/