Albanian Orthodox Religion

The Albanian Orthodox Religion is more properly referred to as the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. An autocephalous church is one that appoints it's head without precedence.

It is an independent church founded by Theofan Stilian Noli and became independent in 1922. As such it's independence was recognized in 1937 by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

It's existing primate is the Archbishop of Tirana, Durres and All Albania Anatasios Yannoulatos. He is head quartered in Tirana, Albania with 700,000 recognized adherents.

The church went underground when in 1967 the communists declared Albania an atheist state, however in 1991 freedom was restored and the church reinstated.

The church is overseen by the Holy Synod of Bishops which was established in 1998. There are currently six bishops as the seventh died in 2000.

Christianity arrived in Albania in the 4th century but after their conquest by the Turks in the 15th century many became Muslim. Under later Ottoman rule the remaining orthodox population integrated under the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

While most parishes use Albanian, Greek is also used in ethically mixed areas, where Greek or Vlach may be the dominant language. For this reason the religion has also been referred to as the Greek Orthodox Church of Albania.

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