Concept

Albanian Greek Catholic Church

Summary
The Albanian Greek Catholic Church or the Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church, is an autonomous (sui iuris in Latin) Byzantine Rite particular church in full communion with the Catholic Church and the Pope of Rome, whose members live in Albania and which comprises the Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania. The Albanian Greek Catholic Church, with its Byzantine Rite, is closely linked to the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church sharing a significant commonality of history, identity and traditions. The conversion to Christianity of Albania took place under Latin Christianity (and its Roman Rite liturgy) influence in the north and Byzantine Christianity in the south. Christianity was the first and the oldest monotheistic religion of Albanian people. After the fifteenth-century Ottoman conquest, some two thirds of the population accepted Islam. In 1967, Communist-ruled Albania was officially declared an atheist state. Though the Greek liturgical rite was used in many of its churches, Albania was part of the patriarchate of Rome until 731, when Byzantine Emperor Leo III, in reprisal for the opposition of Pope Gregory III to the emperor's iconoclast policy, attached the whole of Eastern Illyricum to the patriarchate of Constantinople. Catholics of the Latin Church were long established in the north of the country. A Catholic mission worked in the south between 1660, when the Orthodox archbishop joined the Catholic Church, to 1765 when the effort was abandoned because of obstacles placed by the Ottoman rulers. In 1895 a group of villages in Mali Shpati, southeast of Elbasan in central Albania, decided to become Catholic and demanded a bishop of their own rite, a proposal to which the consular representatives of Russia and Montenegro raised objections with the civil authorities. At about the same time, another group of Greek Catholics arose, centred on an archimandrite, George Germanos, who was a nephew of the Orthodox metropolitan in 1900, and concluded a definitive movement of Catholic unity formed in Elbasan.
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