The Board of the Presidency of the Interreligious Council of Albania with its request has conducted on May 7, 2020 an online meeting with the Prime Minister of Albania Mr. Rama, where there was talked about reopening the cult objects, after their closure due to the pandemic COVID 19.
The meeting is attended by the leaders of the five religious communities, the chairman of the Interreligious Council Mons. George Frendo (at the same time the head of the Catholic Church), the head of Muslim Community of Albania H. Bujar Spahiu, the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church His Beatitude Anastas, H. Dede Edmond Brahimaj, the head of Evangelic Brotherhood Pastor Ylli Doçi, and the Secretary General Dr. Genti Kruja.
During this meeting, Prime Minister Rama first thanked the religious communities and all their leaders for the cooperation regarding this difficult situation, as well as for the sacrifices made on the important religious holidays for each community, regarding the temporary suspension of rituals in the facilities in the cult objects.
The leaders of the five religious communities have expressed their opinions, emphasizing the importance that religion gives to human health and life, regarding the measures taken by them from the beginning. Whereas now, due to the stability and reduction of the spread of the virus in our country, as well as the mitigation of measures by the Albanian government for the reopening of various activities of daily life, religious communities have taken measures for a gradual reopening of cult objects, churches, mosques and tekkes in cooperation with the competent bodies and experts in the field.
“The biggest request we have is to have places of prayer and worship and to give us the direction to take care of this, to keep the distance between people. Places of worship offer hope and joy. To give people this opportunity, I repeat, taking the instructions given so far. Religious communities have set an example of humility and we are ready to continue with this, always in good cooperation with society and in solidarity with all the people”, said Archbishop Anastas.
“In the framework of the gradual opening that is being taken in the conditions of the pandemic, we requested this meeting to discuss about the gradual opening of cult objects, respecting the rules of social distancing. So, to be allowed to perform worship in our cult objects”, said the head of Muslim Community of Albania, H. Bujar Spahiu.
“I congratulate you for the measures in the first place, because as you said you would have more serious consequences, but I agree with what was said before that our structures allow the observance of the measures, so do not give up and to avoid physical contact as much as we can. "We want to be more open, to have permission to hold religious meetings such as masses or celebrations, avoiding any danger”, - added Mons. Frendo.
“We took the measures as you instructed, we did not even celebrate Sultan Novruz. I thank my brothers for this proposal and I join it”, said H. Dede Edmond Brahimaj.
On his part, Prime Minister Rama added: “What you have done is fantastic, the help you have given is invaluable. You have conveyed a very clear message to the Albanian people. As far as your concern, I agree with you that as part of the measures to facilitate interactions and daily social life, it is necessary to address the not at all easy situation that this war has created over your communities and to alleviate the big obstacles in exercising of your activities.
This is something that needs to be done gradually. This requires a conversation with you that practices are different from community to community. In difference of other business activities in the case of religious communities it must be done together. From today or tomorrow you should be available to get in touch with the people who draft the mitigation measures, to have a concrete consultation, on how a gradual calendar can be drafted until full normalization. If we will compile a reasonable calendar, I believe that on May 18, when the whole project of the second phase will be configured, we can give some concrete indications for religious institutions”.
Immediately after the meeting, the working group from the government contacted IRCA to determine and discuss the calendar and proposals of religious communities for the reopening of cult objects, which will be finalized in the nearest time in accordance with the rules and measures to be undertaken in institutional cooperation.