Albanian Orthodox spiritual center under threat of appropriation, demolition

Këlcyrë, Albania, March 7, 2019

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Albanian authorities have announced their plans to appropriate the spiritual center at the Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in the southern town of Këlcyrë, under the pretext of urban development and upgrading.

Some 30 buildings will be confiscated and demolished in order to redevelop the square where they are located, reports Romfea.

According to reports in Albania, a note about the appropriation was delivered to the Holy Metropolis of Gjirokastra with the offer of a very small payment.

The news has caused a reaction from both the local Orthodox community and the broader community, as the spiritual center is used for various events to benefit all the residents of the local region. Moreover, the spiritual center is protected by law as the property of the Church, though that seems to have been ignored by the authorities.

The Church’s demands for the return of 890 ecclesiastical properties (more than 50 of which have been converted into military facilities) have gone unfulfilled so far. In other cases, churches are demolished, such as the Church of St. Athanasius in Dhermi in Himara, and in others churches are prevent from being restored, such as the Church of the Entrance of the Theotokos in Përmet.

Another holy site, the Monastery of St. Athanasius in Kato Lenitsa, fell into ruin in the winter of 2017. Authorities had confiscated the building but undertook no measures to restore it.

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