The Clergy-Laity Assembly of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania was convened within a fraternal atmosphere, on the 26th and 27th of September, 2014, at the premises of the New Monastery of St. Vlash, and under the chairmanship of His Beatitude, Archbishop of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania, Anastasios. More than 200 members participated in the work of the Assembly; they came from the Archdiocese of Tirana and three Metropolises (24 clergy and 24 laity people from each metropolis; 8 men, 8 women and 8 youth), as well as associates. They discussed issues related to the life of the Church at the general meeting of the membership and in smaller workgroups; and also made proposals for their implementation in Albanian society today.

The main focus of the Assembly was the paper of Archbishop Anastasios, with the theme, “The Tradition and the Vision of Peaceful Co-existence of Religious Communities in Albania”. At the conclusion of his speech, he emphasized: “What is required is not merely religious tolerance, simple acceptance, the deviation of religion from diverse aggravations, but something more positive – Mutual respect and understanding, reciprocity, creative collaboration in joint humanitarian purposes, and vigilance in maintaining the regional ecosystem – Sustained efforts for social harmony, authentic love expressed in action. “The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself” (St. Maximus the Confessor).

At the general meeting of the membership the following papers were presented: 1. “The Role of the Orthodox Community in the Independence and Stability of the Albanian State”, by Prof. Dr. Arqile Berxoli; 2. “The 2011 Census of the Population of Albania”, by Prof. Dr. Ilia Telo; 3. “The Contribution of the Albanian Orthodox Church in Albanian Society”, by Prof. Dr. Gjergji Pendavinji; 4. “Facing the Attacks Against the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania”, by Orfea Beci and 5. “Nektarios Terpo, Precursor of Saint Kosmas of Aetolia and the Values that Cultivated the Orthodox Community”, by Prof. Asc. Dr. Vasil Tushi.

Further, working in groups, under the direction of Their Eminences, the Metropolitan of Berati Ignatios, of Korça John, of Gjirokastra Demetrios and of the Bishop of Apollonia Nicholas, the discussions noted the efforts of various circles, who want to attack the notable progress of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania and the duty of intellectuals to make known the truth. In particular, the obligation was emphasized for the active participation of the clergy and laity in its educational work regarding respecting the multi-religious character of the Albanian society. In parallel with the work of the Assembly, its members were introduced to the programs of the Church in the education and health sectors related to the contemporary witness of Orthodoxy in Albanian society.

The Clergy-Laity Assembly provided its members with the opportunity to be aware of their responsibility for the Church’s progress, 23 years after the reconstruction from its ruins, and to emphasize once again the inextricable unity of the members of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania.

Tirana, September 29, 2014

(The Press Office of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania)