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Debate on Kosovo's past
Written by Pirro Prifti 30 Mars 2023
In the writing of dr. Enver Morina ``How were Albanian Catholic churches transformed into Serbian Orthodox churches?`` (No. 626 March 12-19, 2022 (https://gazeta-nacional.com/wp content/uploads/2022/03/Nacional-626. pdf), there are some inaccuracies without which the writing would probably be correct, but his writing, I have the impression that it is more political to convince the readers that Kosovo has been Catholic and against the Serbs since ancient times and in the Middle Ages, than to show the historical truth of yesterday's Dardania and today's Kosovo. Why do I say this? Because history is a little different, maybe Dr. Enver Morina, not knowing the Christian religious culture, wrote these inaccuracies. These are; It is known that the southern Slavs came around the 5th-6th centuries. With their arrival, not always with war, they mixed with the Illyrian tribes of that region, precisely with the Dardanians, the Liburnians, the Hadrians, the Dalmatians, the Labeatians, the Dokleatians, the Pajonians, the Penestians. This mixture caused the assimilation of the tribes, and after the 7th-7th century, there was no more talk of Illyrian tribes, but the Arbers were born, while the Epirots in the south continued to stay. As for Dardania and the Dardanians, they lost their importance as a name over the centuries and after 1389 in the Balkan war, when the Balkan Christian coalition lost to Sultan Murat I, who is known to have been killed by Arbëri with the Slavic name Millosh Kopili? (Marash or Mihal or Mihill) Nikolle Kopili). Here, Serbian historians gave the new name to Dardania as - Kosovo, because the battle took place in the field of Mellenja (Kosovo-polje), but there was also a Slavic population at that time in Dardania and Macedonia, alongside the Arbers, whom the Serbs also called Rabans. Regarding religion. Until 1053 when the schism of Christianity occurred, there was no formal Catholic or Orthodox religion. So the churches in the Balkans in Serbia, Dardani, Arberi, and Epirus and elsewhere, were Christian churches without any specification. After the year 1053, the Byzantine Empire religiously included all the Balkans in the eastern-orthodox rite and all the populations. This was divided according to the Line of Theodosius where Dardania, Doklea (Montenegro, today) Arberia and Epirus, and in general the whole Balkans, were under Byzantine jurisdiction. Only a few cities had dual jurisdiction, i.e. they had both Catholic and Orthodox churches, such as Durrësi, Shkodra, Tiravi, Drishti, Lezha. Even sometimes, according to the policies, the churches were named either Orthodox or Catholic. In today's Kosovo or yesterday's Dardania, the churches were orthodox and not Catholic at all, as Dr. Enver Morina. Why? Because when the Slavs came at the end of the 5th and 5th centuries, they came from the east and adopted the Christian religion, and of course at that time the Christian religion was not divided, so neither the Slavs nor the Dardanians had any special religion apart from the Christian one. The churches before the 5th century were not called either Catholic or Orthodox because it was only a religion led by the first bishop in Rome, Saint Peter in the 2nd century, but the Christians of that period would have seen Peter as a "role which would contribute in an essential way to the development of the papacy's role in the subsequent church". These roles, says Broën, "contributed enormously to seeing the bishop of Rome, the bishop of the city where Peter died, and where Paul testified to the truth of Christ, as Peter's successor in the care of the universal church"). The Vatican did not even exist at that time. Dr. Enver Morina mentions the complaint of some Christians to the Pope of Avignon, so there was a division in the Roman Church of the West since then because there were two Popes at the same time, one in Avignon and one in Rome during the years 1380-1417. During the 11th century, the East-West schism divided Christianity forever. It arose out of a dispute over whether Constantinople or Rome had jurisdiction over the church in Sicily and led to mutual excommunication in 1054. The Western (Latin) branch of Christianity has since become known as the Catholic Church, while the Eastern (Greek) branch became known as the Orthodox Church. The Second Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439) failed to heal the schism. In the Vatican, the Popes settled in 1583(https://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/History_of_the_Catholic_Church. In Serbia, all the churches were orthodox as well, and in Dardani with rare exceptions, as Dr. Morina. With the occupation of Kosovo by the Ottomans after 1389, and the capitulation of the Serbs who made an agreement with the Ottomans and thus preserved their small kingdom, in Dardani, the Arbers left, but a large part - due to the agreement of the Orthodox churches Serbs with the Ottomans, who guaranteed the preservation of rites and property, - the Arbers approached the Serbian church and, as they say, 'left ethnicity for religion', allowing the churches of Arber to be owned by the Serbs. So the churches in the past Dardania were mostly Orthodox because of the Byzantine Empire but also because of the many years of occupation of Dardania, Arberia and Epirus. during the reign of Stefan Dushan and his successors from 1331-1402. A strong evidence is that the Arbers of Dardania (that is, Kosovo) gave the Serbian church one of their saints, Saint Angelina Arianiti, the sister of the wife of our National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti-Skënderbeu, whose statue is found in Krushedol Monastery. This Saint is honored both in Serbia and in the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania every year on July 30. So whether the church of Gracanica or the Monastery of Decan, they are Orthodox, but they belonged to the Arbers who were served by the Albanian Muslims who called them Shkies or those who caused them to slip away from their ethnicity. Even the Albanian name comes from the contemptuous clash of the two sides where one side called the orthodox opponent as - shkie, and the other called the Muslim opponent as - Albanian from the Albanian word (shkyej, tear) (See also the book ``Why Arbër&Epirotët turned into Albanians'', P.Prifti, Tirana 2022). The Catholicization of the northern parts of Albania and Kosovo and Fushë Dukagjin actually happened by order of the FIDE Catholic Program. 'Propaganda Fide' founded by Pope Gregory XV on January 6, 1622, sent Franciscan and Jesuit missions to the Balkans (with the permission of the Sultan) to re-Christianize the Balkan areas. This Program was successful mainly in the north of Albania and a little in Kosovo in the south it was not successful because the Patriarchate of Istanbul sent Saint Kozmai orthodox to Epirus to re-Christianize the remaining Arbers and Albanians. At this time, Catholic churches were opened mainly on top of the Orthodox churches destroyed to the core by Sultan Mehmet Faihu, who ordered that ``nothing be left in Arbëri and Epir, only stone upon stone''. One of those in Albania is the Church of Saint Ndoit in Laç, where the Orthodox Saint Vlaši lived under the stone, who was captured by the Ottomans and his head was removed where today is the Monastery of Saint Vlaši in Durrës. The FIDE program was successful in the north because the Franciscan and Jesuit Missions brought not only educated Catholic priests and monks, but also some Catholic people who settled in Shkodër and its Highlands and in the Dukagjin Plain. These people came together with the Franciscan Missionaries and the Jesuits, over the years, from Tunisia, Lebanon where Vaso Pasha was the governor. They were generally poor (Catholicism and Missionary Activity in the Northern Balkans | Catholic Europe, 1592–1648: Center and Peripheries | Oxford Academic (oup.com)). Even in 1578 there were about 15 thousand Catholics in the territories of Kosovo and Macedonia and in Bosnia who in 1578 sent a letter to the Pope asking him to help because they were becoming Islamized. However, after 1622 and especially after the Council of Arbri, Catholics also had a disagreement with the idea of ??who is more dangerous, Islam or Orthodoxy. Thus the Catholics were divided: those who identified the Ottomans and Muslims as the main danger, cooperated in various forms with the Serbs, Montenegrins and Orthodox, such as the supporters of the Pope's appointments of Slavic clergy in the Catholic churches in Albania, such as those who organized or played a role in important in the inter-Balkan assemblies, who signed an agreement for the development of Serbian political propaganda among Albanians, etc. Or to put it another way, on the one hand there is the current of Catholico-centric philo-Serb clergy such as Matija Mazrreku, Pjetër Bogdani, Gaspër Krasniqi, Pal Dodmasej, Nikollë Dobrci, Loro Caka, etc., etc., etc. On the other hand, there is the current of the Albanian Catholic clergy and Catholic believers who defined the Slavs and Orthodox as the main enemy, such as Pjetër Budi, Andrea Bogdani, Nikollë Bardhi, Gjergj Bardhi, Vaso Pasha, Preng Doçi, Luigj Palaj, Lazër Mjeda, Gjergj Fishta, Nikollë Mazreku etc., etc., etc. It is interesting that the Catholic-centric Albanians hated Fishta... (https://www.forumishqiptar.com/threads/39043-Rrymat-politike-katolike-shqiptare). Fahri Xharra's statement that the Church of the Monastery of Deçan was once Catholic does not stand. Perhaps both Fahri Xharra and Dr. Enver Morina have seen the construction of the church similar to Catholic churches and have therefore called it a Catholic church. But it is not like that. Most of the Orthodox churches from the time of the Ottoman occupation, even until the independence of Albania, were built in the Roman style mixed with the Byzantine one. Churches after 1992 are of Greek style similar to that of Saint Sophia. Even today's mosques in Albania, Turkey, and Arabia are built according to the construction style of the Saint Sophia Church with a round dome and minarets instead of a bell tower, while in the Middle Ages they were built according to the Romanesque style mainly but also mixed with that Byzantine. Even the Church of Saint Gjergji Korçë resembled a Catholic church building, but in fact it was Orthodox.