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The Orthodox Church of Albania

Since the church was reestablished in 1991, about 150 new churches have been constructed, and 160 of the 324 churches and monasteries that were confiscated by the communist regime have been rebuilt or renovated. By 2012 there were 460 parishes in the country. The construction of the new Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral in Tirana was completed in 2011; it is now the third largest Orthodox church in Europe. Over 70 other buildings have been built to serve as youth centers, hospitals, preschools, soup kitchens, etc.

In March 1992 the Resurrection of Christ Theological Academy was opened in an abandoned hotel in Durrës, where about 60 young men began to study for the priesthood. The seminary moved into newly constructed quarters at St. Vlash Monastery in Durrës in late 1996. Ecclesiastical high schools have also been established in Gjirokastër and Sukth. When the communist government fell there were only 22 surviving Orthodox priests in the country; only three of them were still alive in 2003. By 2012 about 150 members of the clergy were serving the Church in various capacities.

A monthly official church periodical, Ngjallia (“Resurrection”), began publication in October 1992, and in 1997 an Orthodox radio station with the same name began broadcasting. Several other publications have also appeared, including a monthly children’s magazine, a student bulletin, and a theological journal called Kërkim (“Research”).

According to the official 2011 Albanian census, Orthodox Christians made up 6.75% of the population, or less than 200,000 individuals. In 2012 the Albanian Orthodox Church rejected these statistics because of the methodology used for registration of religious affiliation, and claimed to have evidence that the number of Orthodox Christians in Albania exceeds 24% of the population. It declared that the census results were “totally incorrect and unacceptable.” In May 2013, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, wrote to Mr Heiner Bielefeldt, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief at the United Nations Human Rights Council, in support of the Albanian Orthodox position.

In North America there are two Albanian Orthodox jurisdictions. The Albanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America is an ethnic diocese within the Orthodox Church in America. It has 13 parishes and is administered by Bishop Nikon of Boston. The diocesan chancery is at 523 East Broadway, South Boston, Massachusetts 02127-4415. The Albanian Orthodox Diocese in America, which has parishes in Chicago and South Boston, is under the spiritual care of the Ecumenical Patriarchate (see “Churches under Constantinople”).

Location: Albania, small diaspora
Head: Metropolitan Anastasios (born 1929, elected 1992)
Title: Archbishop of Tirana and All Albania
Residence: Tirana, Albania
Membership: 700,000

Last Modified: 11 Mar 2015

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