In Kosovo, Albanian dissenters attempt to seize an ancient Serbian church

01 December 2023 19:26
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Nikolla Xhufka and his supporters at the Church of St Archangel Michael in Rakinicë. Photo: kosovapost.net Nikolla Xhufka and his supporters at the Church of St Archangel Michael in Rakinicë. Photo: kosovapost.net

Serbian journalists suggest that Pristina has begun implementing an “’Orthodox Church’ in Kosovo” plan, aiming to appropriate the shrines of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

On November 28, 2023, in Kosovo, Albanian citizen Nikolla Xhufka, who identifies himself as a priest, along with a group of his supporters, infiltrated an ancient Serbian temple in the village of Rakinicë in the municipality of Podujevo. There, they conducted a 'service' and declared that this sanctuary comes under the jurisdiction of the so-called "Albanian National Orthodox Church". This information was reported by kosovapost.net.

The publication released a statement by Xhufka in which he speaks of a "historic event" – the first "Orthodox liturgy" in Albanian in the history of Kosovo. According to the "priest", the temple, dedicated to St. Archangel Michael, has been "renamed the Church of Fan Noli by the decision of the Albanian National Church (schismatics speculate with the name of one of the founders of the Albanian Orthodox Church, Bishop Theofan (Fan Noli) – Ed.).

N. Xhufka announced that representatives of the municipality, the Conservative Party, and various religious denominations were present at this "historic event".

The Raska-Prizren Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church published a statement on its website, stating that what happened in Rakinicë is "a gross attack on the property of the Serbian Orthodox Church with the aim of spreading ethnic and religious hatred and instability in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija."

The statement notes that "representatives of the Podujevo municipality also participated in this looting and desecration of the Serbian Orthodox temple built in the 15th century."

As reported by kosovo-online.com, the canonical Albanian Orthodox Church sent a comment to several Kosovo media outlets, stating that Xhufka cannot be represented as an Orthodox priest.

"We inform you that he is simply a layman, self-proclaimed, without any religious rights and laws of an Orthodox priest. He appears, uses, abuses, and illegally wears Orthodox symbols," the comment said. "He is 'recognized' as a priest only by certain journalists who invite him to shows to insult the Orthodox faith."

According to the Serbian edition alo.rs, the action in the municipality of Podujevo may indicate that Pristina has begun implementing a plan to create a so-called "Orthodox Church" in Kosovo, which will attempt to appropriate everything belonging to the Serbian Patriarchate.

The site notes that the Prime Minister of the partially recognized Republic of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, may "become the Balkan Zelensky, who recently banned the activities of the canonically recognized Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Kyiv," and "Kurti wants to act in the same with the Serbian Orthodox Church."

"If we also consider that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, claiming the role of the 'Orthodox Pope' and under the Washington's grip, could grant some entity like the 'Kosovo Orthodox Church' a tomos of autocephaly, then even little-known figures like Xhufka would not be far from the 'patriarchal throne,'" the publication emphasizes.

As reported by the UOJ, in December 2022, the authorities of Kosovo banned the entry of Serbian Patriarch Porfirije into the territory of the region.

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