Culture Supplement

Fierce controversies about the non-Albanian archbishop

Descriptive Text

The appointment of a foreign cleric to lead the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church caused twists, frustrations and extreme controversies among all social strata of Albanian spaces. It is claimed that the Greeks and Serbs are excommunicating the Albanian Church. Meanwhile, near the cathedral, an elderly woman holding a photo of the founder of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, His Grace Fan Noli, was escorted to the police. But some young people who raised the Serbian flag in front of the church in a form of humiliation were not harassed at all

On June 1, 2014, the new Orthodox cathedral "Resurrection of Christ" was inaugurated in the center of Tirana, as it was said, in the framework of the 20th anniversary of the election of His Beatitude Anastas as Archbishop of Tirana and all of Albania. The special Mass in the new Cathedral was led by Archbishop Anastas. The patriarchs of Jerusalem, Serbia, Romania and the archbishops of Cyprus, Athens, Warsaw and Tirana also served together, as well as representatives of the patriarchs of Russia, Bulgaria, Georgia and Antioch. According to the Orthodox Church of Albania, the ordination of the Orthodox Church is a special blessing not only for the Albanian Orthodox Christians, but also for the whole country, and it was an important confirmation of Orthodoxy in the world. The Greek-American studio "Papadatos Partnership LLP Architects" from New York was announced as the winner of the international architectural competition (2002) for the design of the new Albanian Orthodox cathedral "Resurrection of Christ" in Tirana.

Its complex consists of the following buildings: Cathedral Church, Chapel, Bell Tower, Seat of the Holy Synod and Cultural Center. The church is covered with a dome, with an internal diameter of 26 meters and a height of 23 meters, while the four supporting masses end with semi-cylindrical covers. The wall paintings (frescoes) of this cathedral are works in the mosaic technique of the "Arbërart" studio of the Albanian artists, Drobonik, Josifi and Liljana, with the assistance of their daughters, Mirlinda and Alba. The dome of the new Cathedral of Tirana holds inside, as it is claimed, the largest mosaic in the Balkans, Christ the Pantocrator, which covers 600 square meters. Josif Drobonik was born in Fier in 1952. He attended the artistic lyceum and the High Institute of Arts in Tirana in the Department of Monumental Painting. His mosaics and frescoes are also found in the National Historical Museum and in the Palaces of Culture in Tirana, Lushnjë and Peshkopi. He emigrated in November 1990 to Italy, and settled in Lungro, Calabria, where in the next 20 years he would deal with the realization of mural painting and iconography techniques from Rome to Sicily, in Arberian churches. Meanwhile, according to the proposal of Archbishop Anastas, the sculptor Janis Kirarinis, who came from Dino of Greece, made the iconostasis carved in white marble.

The new "Resurrection of Christ" church in Tirana

Meanwhile, a general opinion is crystallizing that the dome of the New Cathedral of Tirana is awakening the feeling of comparison with St. Sophia of Constantinople (Istanbul), which was built in the 527th century by the Roman emperor, Justinian (565-XNUMX) - of Illyrian blood from Dardania (today's Kosovo). Now the Albanian capital became the second religious temple, which is being compared to the Church of Istanbul, after Et'hem Bey Mosque in the heart of Tirana, in the inscription of which it is written: "Making it like another Aya Sofi, the I beautified this city".

Meanwhile, the appointment of a foreign clergyman to lead the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church caused distortions, frustrations and extreme controversies among all social strata of the Albanian spaces. It is claimed that the Greeks and Serbs are excommunicating the Albanian Church. In the vicinity of the Cathedral, an elderly woman holding the photo of the founder of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church, His Beatitude Fan Noli, was escorted to the police!? But some young people who raised the Serbian flag in front of the church in a form of humiliation were not harassed at all. Despite the fact that the Orthodox Church from its beginnings was based on the principle that Christianity belongs to the nations and not to a single nation, as the Greek priests manipulate even today. Based on this universal principle, national churches were born in every nation-state. Thus, over the centuries, the Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, and Romanian autocephalous Orthodox churches were born, until the blessed year 1922 came, when the Albanian nation also declared its own independent (autocephalous) church. Despite the fact that according to its Statute the archbishop must be Albanian, and that the liturgy must be held in the Albanian language. Despite the fact that on March 22, 1908, Theofan Stilian Noli celebrated the first Divine Liturgy in the Albanian language in the history of the Orthodox Church. Despite the fact that the very beautiful Albanian Orthodox Church of St. George has been operating in Boston, USA for over 100 years. Despite the fact that one cannot forget the so-called "Hudson Incident", which happened in 1907, when a young Albanian, Kristaq Dishnica, died in Hudson. The Orthodox Church did not want to carry out the burial rites, because he was Albanian patriot and was considered an excommunicant of the faith. And so he was buried in a Worcester cemetery without any religious service. The incident aroused the anger of the Albanians in Massachusetts, and Fan Noli clarified his calling as an opportunity to serve the needs spiritual leader of his community, and to lead the cause for religious and political freedom in Albania. Father Noli was able to obtain the support of Archbishop Platon, head of the Russian Orthodox Church in the United States, who ordained him on March 18, 1908 at St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York.

Saint Mary's Church in Elbasan and Father Nikola Marku

Although Pjetër Arbnori (1935-2006), nicknamed the Mandela of the Balkans, had asked Ramiz Ali (1925-2011) through an official letter to extradite Janullatos from Albania, but he had not listened. Among many others who reacted against the flagrant and very serious abuse of the Statute of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was the academician, prof. dr. Kristo Frashëri, who expressed his meritorious opinion on this issue: "Since the Albanian Church was organizationally depraved by the communist regime, it needed to recover with institutions, cadres and shrines. KOASH did not have a bishop to create a Synod. He turned to the patriarchate of Constantinople for help. Athens took advantage of this imperative need. Based on the order of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, Athens sent a missionary to Albania to help the Albanian Church recover as exarch. This missionary named Anastas Janullatos would exercise his mission as an exarch and not as an archbishop, that is, as a temporary missionary. As an exarch, as soon as he fulfilled his assigned task, i.e. as soon as the Holy Synod was formed, he had to leave Albania. With his departure, the Holy Synod had to elect the Archbishop of Albania. His arrival as exarch in Albania was approved by the president of the Republic, Ramiz Alia, the prime minister, Fatos Nano, and the leader of the opposition, Sali Berisha. But what happened? His Grace broke his word. With the various combinations he concocted behind the scenes and with a theatrical scene he organized at the "Tirana International" hotel, he declared himself archbishop of all Albania. He acted like a trickster. His Grace Janullatosi is not Albanian, as required by the KOASH Statute. He is Greek not only by nationality, but also by Greek nationalist ideology. He is not an Orthodox missionary, but an agitator of Greek nationalism, who has the task of preparing the circumstances for the annexation of Southern Albania by Greece. This is the reason why he is not worried about the Cathedral of the Theotokos in Tirana, while he is doing his best so that the House of Culture in Përmet remains as the Church of Saint Mary. He is enraged by the name of Naim Frashëri".

On this occasion, Nikollë Marku, who is at the head of the Albanian Autocephalous Orthodox Church with headquarters in the beautiful church of "Saint Mary" in Elbasan, also reacted. He says that he does not know Archbishop Anastas Janullatos, because he is not Albanian. Father Nicholas Marku has this attitude towards the nation and religion: "Albanian's religion is Albanianism, and then we love God".

However, the Greek cleric Anastas Janullatos has managed to, with his fabulous perseverance, enjoy his prosperous yield with the crowning of his major work of postmodern style alla Le Corbusier, of the Albanian Orthodox Church "Resurrection of Christ" right in the heart of Tirana. For this dizzying performance, he may have shouted within himself: "Legitimate Archbishop of the Albanian Orthodox Church, Monsignor Fan Noli, I surpassed you" - exactly as Emperor Justinian had shouted after the construction of Saint Sophia (Hagia Sophia). in Constantinople in the distant year 537: "I surpassed Solomon!" But, this amazing performance of the cleric Janullato would never have happened if the contemporary irresponsible Albanian rulers did not give the blessing.

The series of texts "To whom do the religious temples in Kosovo really belong?" of Shyqri Niman (May 6, 1941 – June 22, 2023), was published for the first time in the Culture Supplement, from July to August 2014.

To be continued in the next issue of the Supplement