The Orthodox Autocephalous Church Of Albania To the Director of “Gazeta Shqiptare” (Albanian Newspaper) An Answer to a Shameless Slander

The Albanian Orthodox Church – February- March 2016

Each new press release of Mr. Nikolla Marku and of the group of people which motivates him, is as much delirious in kind as the previous statements made by him. In his last statement, which was published in your newspaper (“Gazeta Shqiptare”, 2.23.2016) and broadcasted by several television channels, he goes so far as to require the review of the Constitution, the repeal of a law and declares also that he would even make an appeal to the Hague court. In a shameless way and without possessing the slightest evidence, he slanders against the Orthodox Archbishop, who according to him is “a representative of Northern Epirus Chauvinism” and who even cooperates with a Greek extremist nationalist party. But, throughout Greece and in most of Albania as well as in the entire Christian world, people know that Archbishop Anastasios belongs to those people who work on the front lines to preserve peace and mutual respect between peoples and nations. Therefore, he has been chosen for senior posts in global Christian bodies and elected as Honorary President of the Interfaith Peace Conference: “Religions for Peace”.

Any wise reader can immediately understand the poor level of Mr. Nikolla Marku’s statements and allegations. But the authors of his declarations, who follow the method “Slander, slander (over and over again), because something will remain at the end,” even if nothing at all gets done, aim to bring into circulation the intended rumors at the expense of our Church. (It is worth-noting at this point that such attacks are not made against any other religious community in Albania).

The Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania is the only officially recognized church by the Albanian state; it is one of the 14 Autocephalous Orthodox Churches of the world, which maintains excellent relations with the Catholic Church and all member churches of the World Council of Churches.

But who are the authors of the text published on February 22, 2016 by some committee of Elbasan? Although we have repeatedly exposed the real face of such unscrupulous slanderers, several suspicious circles still continue to support them, in spite of the revealed unquestionable facts. In summary, we emphasize the following:

1. Mr. Nikolla Marku: He has no connection with the Orthodox Church of Albania recognized by the State or with any other Orthodox Churches. The relations between the Orthodox Church and the State are firmly regulated by Law Nr 10 057 / 01.22.2009, in “The Agreement between the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania and the Albanian Orthodox Church …”, as drafted under the prerogative dictated by the Albanian Constitution. No Church in the world (Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical, or Pentecostal) recognizes him as an Orthodox clergyman.

2. “The Committee for the protection of independence of the national independent Orthodox Church of Albania”, whose chairman pleads to be as such, is not a “Church” or a religious community in the sense given by the Constitution. It is only a neighborhood committee of a city which is not recognized as “a religious community”. And, to mislead the public opinion even more, he subtly uses as a seal of his own the following title “The National Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the Castle area in Elbasan”. Obviously we are facing a tremendous fraud and delusion. Fortunately, in the law mentioned above (10 057 / 22.01.2009, article 5, paragraph. 1), it is explicitly stated that: “The State respects the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania and recognizes as its representatives only the persons authorized by the Holy Synod of the Church and it guarantees the protection of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania by any persons or groups that claim the church name, its cult objects, properties, symbols or seal”.

Such a continuous deception of the public by irrelevant people or groups, which has been repeatedly confirmed, is in fact an awkward way of spiritual corruption, that continuously tries to poison the religious harmony, for which Albania has always boasted.

By the Holy Archiepiscopate, February 25, 2016

Published in “Gazeta Shqiptare” & “Balkanweb” Online, February 27, 2016