Tirana, Albania, May 13, 2022
The Albanian Orthodox Church issued a statement yesterday, condemning the profanation of an historical iconostasis and other icons that are kept in a state museum.
The state has thus far refused to return to the Albanian Church the Rehova Iconostasis, which Elgit Doda, Donald, and Romeo dance and rap in front of in their video for the song Picasso.
A similar incident occurred in 2017, when a video of a jazz band playing inside an Orthodox church was shown on Albanian television.
The Church’s statement reads in full:
We express our concern, regret, and indignation for the desecration of the liturgical objects of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania, one of the greatest cultural heritages of our people.
The music video Picasso shot at the Museum of Medieval Art in Korça, in front of the iconostasis of Rehova (which has been unjustly not returned to the Orthodox Church, under the pretext of “preserving” this precious heritage), is a clear sign of disrespect to these spiritual values. This environment is completely unsuitable, for the values it reflects, for the promotion of this kind of music. There, in respect for the tradition and culture that created these sacred objects, the sounds of Byzantine Music should be heard, not sounds that offend them and the cultural heritage of our country.
Icons are sacred liturgical objects, which Orthodox believers approach with special reverence and respect. Therefore, it’s unacceptable and painful for them to be treated irresponsibly by those institutions that are supposed to preserve and protect them. For this reason, we request again that they be returned to the Orthodox Church (based on Law 10057, Article 22/2, dated 22.1.2009, “Agreement Between the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Albania and the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania”), which not only created them, but also preserved them with great effort over the centuries. Icons are best preserved and protected in church premises, because they are sacred liturgical objects and a visible part of the expression of the Orthodox Faith.
We pray and hope that the Ministry of Culture will be careful and sensitive to church buildings and will respect the religious sentiments of the Orthodox community, not allowing their desecration.
A scandal erupted in February of this year, when the Turkish state turned the famous Panagia Sumela Monastery into a disco for a tourism advertisement.