name=Church of Albania|
The '''Church of Albania''' is one of the [[autocephaly|autocephalous]] Orthodox churches whose territory consists of the Republic of Albania.
The '''Church of Albania''' as a church using the Albanian language is a latecomer to an ancient region of Europe. The heritage of the Byzantine Roman Empire that resided in the areas in which Albanians lived meant that Greek was the language of their churches. It was only in recent times, that is, the last hundred years or so, as nationalism came to the forefront in the Balkans that the idea came of an independent Albanian country in which the Orthodox church would use Albanian as its liturgical language. The idea of an Albanian liturgical language was in part realized through the efforts of an Albanian Orthodox émigré in the United States of America who began translating the Orthodox services into Albanian, became an Orthodox [[priest]], and began using the Albanian translations among Albanian communities both in America and Europe. This was [[Theophan (Noli) of Durres |Fr. Theophan (Fan) Noli]] in 1908. He was also part of the nationalist movement.
At the same time, the nationalist movement for an independent Albanian nation bore fruit with a declaration of independence in 1912. The declared independence was ratified after World War I when the League of Nations granted membership to Albania. Fr. Noli was also in the political forefront as this new nation was formed. Now consecrated a bishop in Albania, he was named [[Bishop]] of Korca and [[Metropolitan]] of Durres, and the ruling [[hierarch]] of Albania. In 1922, a [[Council]] held at Berat proclaimed [[autocephaly]] for the Albanian church over the objections of the [[Patriarch of Constantinople]] who, in 1926, offered an agreement that would lead to future autocephaly. This the Albanian government rejected.
In 1929, two Albanian Orthodox bishops were [[Consecration of a bishop|consecrated]] by Bp. [[John Bessarion]] and a Serbian bishop. Thus, a [[synod]] of bishops was formed in Tirana and the church repeated its declaration of autocephaly. A [[schism]] ensued between the two churches until on [[April 12]], 1937, when the Ecumenical Patriarch recognized the autocephalous status of the Albanian church.
As the communist world began to disintegrate in 1990, the government in Albania followed in its disintegration. The persecution of the Church ended, but the Orthodox hierarchy had been destroyed. Having granted autocephaly to the Albanian church, the Patriarch of Constantinople stepped in to guide the Albanians in their recovery. He appointed Metropolitan Anastasios of Androusa as Patriarchal [[Exarch]] in Albania to begin the reconstruction of the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania. On [[June 24]], 1992, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected Anastasios as Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania. The Synod also named three other bishops to the [[diocese|diocesan]] vacancies, but the government refused their entry into Albania, calling instead for the appointment of ethnic Albanians. Tensions continued between the Greek-centered hierarchy and the Albanian government over naming ethnic Albanians to the hierarchy of the Albanian church. This was complicated by tensions between the Greek and Albanian governments over the ethnic Greek minority in Albania.
The situation was finally resolved in 1998, when by mutual agreement among the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Albanian Church, and the Albanian government, Metr. Ignatios of Berat, who was one of the three bishops named earlier by the Ecumenical Patriarch, was enthroned, the other two hierarchs resigned, and two ethnic Albanians were elected. [[Archimandrite]] John Pelushi was elected Metropolitan of Korytsa (Korça) and Fr. Kosma Qirjo was elected Bishop of Apollonia, thus forming a full Holy Synod for the Church of Albania. In 2000, Bishop Kosma, who was 77 years old when elected, died and has not been replaced.
Since 1991, the re-established Church has built over 83 new [[church]]es and five [[monastery|monasteries]]. Some 72 churches and monuments have been renovated and restored and over 140 churches have been repaired. In temporary facilities, the Resurrection of Christ Theological Academy was opened in March 1992 and moved to new facilities at the St. Vlash Monastery in Durrës in 1996. There were only 22 Orthodox priests alive when the communist regime collapsed; of these, only three were living in 2003, but by 2003, the seminary graduated 128 priests, all Albanian citizens. A severe shortage of priests continues.
*[http://www.orthodoxalbania.org/ Official Site of the Church of Albania]
*[http://www.cnewa.org/ecc-bodypg.aspx?eccpageID=25&indexview=toc Eastern Christian Churches: The Orthodox Church of Albania] by Ronald Roberson, a [[Roman Catholic]] priest and scholar
*[http://www.albanianorthodox.com Albanian Orthodox Library]