Consecration of the Cathedral church of the Resurrection of Christ in Tirana
Following the visit to the Serbian-Montenegrin Orthodox community in Vrake and Shkoder His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej and Archbishop of Cetinje and Metropolitan of Montenegro and the Littoral Amfilohije went to Tirana, where they met with Bishop Teodosije of Raska-Prizren and Kosovo-Metohija and hieromonk Andrej in Tirana, who came from Prizren. They all stayed at Sheraton Hotel in Tirana, where they met with primates and representatives of the Local Orthodox Churches at the formal dinner.
On Sunday, June 1st, our whole delegation concelebrated at the consecration and the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral chruch of the Resurrection of Christ in Tirana, while His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officiated. Besides our Patriarch, Patriarch Bartholomew and the host, His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana and All Albania, there were also primates of some Local Orthodox Churches: Patriarch Teophilos of Jerusalem, Patriarch Daniel of Romania, Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus, Archbishop Hieronimos of Athens, Metropolitan Sava of Poland and representatives of other Churches.
The Liturgy was attended by President of AlbaniaBujar Nishani, President of Albania Republic, with Mr Ilir Meta, President of the Albanian Parliament, Mayor of Tirana Lulzim Basha, other state officials, as well as the highest representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Islamic Community in Albania.
After the exchange of gifts in the hall of the Synodal Centre in Tirana, where Patriarch Irinej presented Archbishop Anastasios a chalice, a paten and an engolpion, and an icon of the Resurrection, the delegation of the SOC attended the solemn lunch at the Sheraton Hotel.
During the lunch, all primates held toasts on the occasion of the consecration of the Church. Patriarch Irinej in his toas emphasized a beauty of the newly consecrated church and he called it the Tirana's Hagia Sophia.
The same day, Patriarch Irinej with his delegation visited the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Tirana.
In the evening, the Patriarch with the delegation attended the Youth Festival at the Cultural centre of the Orthodox Church of Albania, which is located in the crypt of the Cathedral Church, where besides the traditional songs and dances, a short film on the restoration of this Church, which was in the 1990s, when Archbishop Anastasios came to Albania, without a bishop and almost fully destroyed. Its restoration has been crowned with this great event, which is not just as important for the Orthodox Church in Albania, but also for the Albanian state.
On Monday, June 2nd, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch Irinej along with other Primates of the Orthodox Churches in separate meetings talked with President of Albania Bujar Nishani, President of the Parliament Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama. He presented Prime Minister Rama, who is from the Orthodox family, an icon of Mother of God of Dechani.
Prime Minister Rama said he was sorry to see what some of his compatriots did in Kosovo and Metohija with churches, which were painted with graffiti and devasted. He also said that within his government's help that is sent to Kosovo and Metohija, is also help for the Serbian community in Grachanica.
During his stay in Albania, Serbian Patriarch Irinej gave an interview to Albanian TV Top Channel and said: “We have lived with Albanians for centuries. There have never been problems between our peoples. What is happening in our time between us, the detachment of Kosovo and the creation of an independent state from Serbia, affects us. Kosovo and Metohija for us the Serbs, is the most holy place, where the whole history of our people has been developed.”
He also said the the seat of the Serbian Patriarchate is in Pec.
“We’re ready to find a fair solution in order for both sides to remain happy. If we have lived together for centuries, then why cannot we continue doing this?Another problem is that between 200.000 – 250.000 Serbs have left their homes in Kosovo and still it is not clear to us why they cannot return to their homes”, he said.
His Holiness said that in 1912, when Kosovo was liberated from Turkey, no Albanians were displaced from Kosovo and Metohija. And he added that one should live in peace with the all and that we all should pray to God to cease conflicts and wars, not only in Kosovo and Metohija but in the whole world.
Patriarh Irinej also said that the people should get an opportunity to return their homes and that the Serbs have never been hostile to the Albanians.
Source: Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral