Attempt of destruction of an Orthodox church in Albania
August 21, 2015. A very serious act of vandalism took place at the holy church of St. Athanasius in the town of Dhërmi. Unidentified persons driving cars without license plates destroyed the cement floor of the church during lunchtime. The moment was witnessed by the church priest, who is also a resident of Dhërmi. His life was put in danger when he was almost crushed to death while the unidentified persons were trying to flee the scene as repors Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania in its press release.
The local ecclesiastical authority released a penal denunciation against this act of destruction of property and intentional attempt to cause an accident and increase social conflict.
The Orthodox faithful of Dhërmi were shocked by this harsh act of violence to their holy place and from its ongoing desecration and destruction. They strongly demand the state authorities to urgently react against the offenders and intervene to stop any other attempts of further destruction. The faithful are especially outraged by the attitude of the media and some individuals who are trying to politicize and legitimize the destruction and violence, and even to create pseudo-national discrepancy.
The Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania condemns such acts of vandalism, which affect the property and freedom of religion. It calls the faithful to remain calm in the face of these provocations and to stand firm in defense of the Church. The Church requires the state to act on legal obligations contained within Law no. 10057 / 22.01.2009 / “On Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Albania and the Orthodox Church of Albania”, which guarantees the inviolability of places of worship and their protection by the state.
The Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania will reconstruct the church of St. Athanasius in Dhërmi. According to law and court decisions, the church of St. Athanasius is not a cultural monument, but under the possession of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania, and this is recognized by the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Monuments. Therefore, the Church is the only authority recognized by law that can undertake the establishment of Orthodox religious buildings.