Response from the Albanian Orthodox Church: Xhufka is a layman, a self-proclaimed priest recognized neither by the church nor the state

Nikola Džufka sa grupom albanaca ispred crkve Sv. Arhangela Mihaila u selu Rakitnica
Source: Eparhija raško-prizrenska

Self-proclaimed priest Nikolla Xhufka is not new to claiming and entering the sanctuaries of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo and Metohija. Recently, in front of the St. George Church in Prizren, where the seat of the Eparchy of Prizren near Shadirvan is located, he asked Prime Minister Albin Kurti to have the "state" take control over the Serbian Orthodox Church's authority over the sanctuaries in Kosovo. He claimed that the Serbian Orthodox Church was terrorist and genocidal. He also demanded that all SOC institutions in Kosovo be placed under the administration of the Albanian Orthodox Church.

The official Albanian Orthodox Church has distanced itself from Xhufka's statements multiple times. He is highly active on social media and frequently appears on local TV in Elbasan, Librazhd, and Kosovo.

They state that Xhufka does not belong to any religious community.

They reiterated this today.

In a statement sent to several media outlets in Kosovo, the Albanian Orthodox Church protests the representation of Xhufka as a "priest of the Orthodox Church".

"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. We emphasize that N. Xhufka is not recognized as a priest by anyone: neither the Orthodox Church, nor the state, nor any other religious community. It is unusual that he is 'recognized' as a priest only by certain journalists who invite him to shows to insult the Orthodox faith", the statement says, stating that Xhufka's appearance as an Orthodox priest is "humiliating to the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania and the entire believing Orthodox community and that this religious institution is protected by rights from the Constitution and agreements between the church and the state.

"Therefore, our Church cooperates with the state and law enforcement agencies, considering that this precedent is serious and dangerous and violates religious harmony".

Based on statements and posts on Facebook, Xhufka advocates for a return to the situation in 1943 when, during the Italian occupation of Albania, the Albanian Orthodox Church took or seized and placed under its jurisdiction Serbian churches and monasteries in Kosovo, almost the entire Eparchy of Raska and Prizren: Prizren, Decani, Orahovac, all the way to Devic. At that time, a large number of clergy and monastics suffered, many of whom were interned in central Albania. This was the case with Serafim, the Bishop of Raska and Prizren, who was interned in Albania and passed away in 1945, where he rests today in the city cemetery of Tufina in Tirana, as previously reported by Kosovo Online.

We remind you that there has been a schism in the AOC since 1996 because a part of the clergy does not recognize Anastasios Yannoulatos as the supreme leader. The stronghold of those opposed to Yannoulatos is in Elbasan, in the Church of St. Mary, which was usurped by the priest Nikola Marku in the nineties and still has a large number of followers who occasionally cause significant problems for the AOC.

Considering the significant schism within the AOC and the strengthening of the faction around Marku and Xhufka, it is expected that they will ask Kurti to establish the Albanian Orthodox Church in Kosovo.