Av. ALFDRED DUKA
The tenth part
WHY DOES THE POLITICAL ACCUSATION OF COLLABORATION NOT STAND?
-Continuing the tradition of native Catholic clergy –
Continues from last issue
Cooperation for the state and only in its interest
It was up to the clergy to stay out of politics, but not indifferent to it, since as an institution it was obliged to engage in the protection of the human, political and religious rights of Catholics. On the other hand, despite the extremely hostile attitude of the authorities, the Church was correct in implementing the obligations arising from its function. The state asked the Church for cooperation in the case of the population census, as it had the records of births (baptisms) of the Catholic population.
Democratic Government of Albania.
Executive Committee of the National Council of N/Tirana Prefecture
No. 4 prot.
Death to Fascism
Freedom to the People
Tirana on 22.IX.45
Head of the Catholic Church Tirana
Landa: On the general population census.
As opposed to this, it was also announced through the press and the radio, based on the decision of the Anti-Fascist Council N.Ç. on September 30, 1945, Sunday, the General Population Census will be conducted.
The registration will be done within one day, and on that day the traffic in Kryköpu will be prohibited, with the exception of the personalities who deal with essential public services, who will be equipped with a paper – traffic permit and a white ribbon in left arm, which this Office will issue to you. Considering the importance of this registration in the national point of view, you are requested to carry out a favorable campaign on your side by means of sermons in shrines, making the people aware of this work and inviting them to tell the truth about the members of family, especially on their age, etc., the generalities that will be requested by the registration officers.
The parish of the Catholic Church is begging you to notify this letter to all the Catholic Churches of this city.
The conclusion is expected by the day of Hana on 24/XI/1945
Head of the Registration Office Vangjel Noti
In order to create a festive atmosphere in the city, the state authorities had included the Catholic Church in the program of the holiday ceremonies with the humble task of ringing the church bells between 7.00 am and 9.00 am, apparently, before the start of the parade traditional, at the time of gathering of citizens.
People’s Republic of Albania
May 1 Day Celebration Commission
Catholic Parish Tirana
On the occasion of May 1st, please greet this day with bells and sirens by ringing and whistling these, on dt. 1.V.1946, from 7-9 in the morning continuously.
- Committee of the holiday May 1
Even as a legal entity, the church responded correctly to the state regarding the properties it had, etc.
Tirana, on 14.6.1946
People’s Republic of Albania
Executive Committee of K.P.T.N./Prefecture
No. 15/1018 prot.
Catholic Committee here
On the occasion of charging the tax on buildings and land and based on the announcement dated 19.V.1946, please send us a list of properties such as: houses, shops and land that this Committee owns, accompanied by contracts or the measurements of the technician, also emphasize the rents you received for those properties during the year 1945.
We ask that the lists be sent to us as soon as possible.
For the Executive Committee of the KP of N/Prefecture.
Ten days later, the Catholic Church of Tirana had sent the requested documents to the Executive Committee, the statements of specialists regarding the accuracy of the measurements carried out.
Tirana, June 24, 1946
Parish Office of the Tirana Catholic Church
Prot. No. 136/46
PT Executive Committee of KP of N/Prefecture Tirana
Answer to Uej’s letter Pr. No. 15/1018 dt. 14. VI. 1946
The Catholic Parish Office of Tirana sends you:
The statement of Mr. Eng. Anton Delhysa, measuring the building of the Catholic Church St. of the Catholic Church no. 30/I, inhabited by Mrs. Tizzo (now from the Major of the People’s Defense whose name I don’t know because Mrs. Tizzo left her when she left for Italy). As rent for that island we received in 1945 from Fr. Shq. 240 per month.
The statement of Geom. Anton Delhysa of the measurement of the apartment of the Catholic Parish of Tirana.
Don Shtjefën Kurti
Finally the statements close with a geometry statement:
We sign, Geom. Anton Delhysa, I certify that in the measurements of the building of the Catholic Church, Shetitorja “Free Albania” No. …, where the Parish Priest resides, for determining the monthly rent based on the new law, which results as follows:
The building is: Group A, category. The first area.
The surface of the apartment m2-133, 70×2.00-Fr.Shq.267.40
Type of publication, minus 10%……………………Fr. Sh. 26.70
Yard surface m 2- 73.00×10-Fr.Shqi.7.3
A complaint and a garage 40.0 and 20.0 – Fr. Shq. 60.0
Amount Fr. Shq. 308.00
As can be seen, the cooperation between the state and the Church was almost non-existent. The church was no longer considered as a valuable institution for society, but as a reactionary center that worked against state policy and, since the government was identified with the state, also against state interests. To work under those conditions as the Catholic clergy did, or to collaborate with the persecuting state, was a great sacrifice, which only Catholic clergy who were inspired by the life and sacrifices of Christ could make?
SENTENCED TO MANY YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT
With the continuation of the campaign of arrests, Shtjefën Kurti knew that his turn was coming, but this premonition did not weaken him or stop him for a moment in carrying out his mission. Representing before the state institutions the Catholic Church under accusation, whose clergy had been arrested, tortured and was being liquidated, he continued to denounce before the state authorities, any violation of the law in force, i.e. the law approved by the new rulers themselves, that the implementation of those laws they did only when they were interested. Of great importance is the letter addressed to the Holy Father, where Dom Stephen tells him some truths that should never cross the border surrounded by barbed wire.
Letter of Dom Shtjefan Kurt sent to the Holy Father
Although I am only a simple priest, I take the liberty, out of respect for liberty, to point out to Your Holiness the following, since I was given this opportunity to do so: whereas such a thing would be absolutely impossible for the Most Reverend Bishops of our Order. Holy Father, what I will point out will be painful, but it is our only consolation to pour into the angelic heart of the Father the common sorrow with which our Christian and priestly souls are filled. .
The secular and regular clergy live in a real age of violent persecution. All our activities, in all areas have already been abolished, and not only that, but also everything has been partially destroyed, becoming subject to constant surveillance. Seminaries have been closed, be it the Papal one of Shkodra, or that of the Franciscans and the Jesuits, following the despotic instructions suggested by the Russian Bolsheviks, sharpened even more by the satanic hatred of our leaders.
The ranks of martyrs increase every day; in prisons, terrible torture is done indiscriminately to everyone; thousands of men, women, old people and children, almost completely naked and starving, are sent to concentration camps in the most isolated and disease-prone places, inside houses without doors and windows, forced to work all day at a grueling job just for a piece of bread In order to weaken the physical condition of the prisoners and to make them die of exhaustion and tuberculosis, with a recent provision, their families have been forbidden to bring them food. In addition to these desecrations and deprivations, the Clergy mourns the violent death of nine priests, preceded by indescribable tortures that are repeated, while they continue to suffer in harsh prisons, nineteen others and new arrests worry us every day.
At the moment of writing I received news of the arrest of three priests and a large number of the population, Catholics and Muslims: one of these three priests celebrated his first mass (first solemn mass) on the 8th of this month. Moreover, each of us awaits the same fate calmly and knowingly that it will happen. We and the Catholic people cannot hope to enjoy the rights of citizens, because we are known to be dependent on the Vatican. Anyone who would seek to protect us, after a short time, they put him in prison just for this fact. Whoever is with the Holy See is undoubtedly considered a reactionary and an enemy of the current communist government.
Continually in the weekly papers, in public speeches, in humorous magazines, in radio broadcasts, and by any other means, they challenge and attack religion, the liturgy, the Vatican, and Your venerable Person, making all Catholics and the souls of honestly of other faiths, live with anxiety. We are all ready to endure, but to mock the vicar of Jesus Christ on earth fills our souls with endless bitterness, which continues to increase, exacerbating the wounds of our immense pain. There is no freedom of any kind, there is no freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of the press. This is only in the hands of the atheist government and no one can refute the errors it propagates.
Whoever dares to oppose disappears from human society, without knowing what happened to him…! Holiness, many more things remain to be discovered, but I must limit myself to what I have said above, hastily throwing out these lines, for fear of being caught writing. Again I express my pain, as I am grieving the sweet soul of Your Holiness with this desperate description. Kneeling at the feet of Your Holiness, who kisses them with reverence, I humbly ask for the Paternal Apostolic Blessing for me, for the Clergy of Tirana, of the Archdiocese, for the people and for everyone, prosperity and best wishes for a better future, and above all to support us in this fight today, without losing courage towards our faith and for the unshakable connection with Your Honorable Person”.
After a great commitment to the defense of democratic freedoms in the country, which he had done in the case of the protection of the Church and its clergy, Dom Shtjefni was clear that he was consciously going to prison, as had happened to other clergy . He says in one case: “…I am waiting day by day to be arrested”. After painfully following the successive arrests of his colleagues and experiencing deep spiritual suffering due to their torture, imprisonment and murder, on October 27, 1946, he was arrested himself accused of being a war criminal and enemy of the people.
Shtjefan Kurti was first interrogated on November 8, 1946; the second time on November 18, 1946; the third time on December 26, 1946; the last time on January 19, 1947. The file was submitted to the Military Prosecutor of the Garrison of Tirana, Captain II, Petrit Hakani on April 13, 1947, who would represent the charge in court. The jury composed of: Major Gjon Banushi, chairman; Lieutenant Rushit Kananaj, member; Vasil Karajani, aspirant member and secretary Ilia Xheka, began the trial on April 16, and on the same day the defense was made. Since he had not chosen a defense lawyer, the Court itself assigned a lawyer to him, Burhan Rusi.
The charge formulated at the time of Shtjefën Kurti’s arrest was:
During the occupation, he was an agent of Jakomon and collaborated against the National Liberation Movement; was a leading and organizing member of Sami Qeribashi’s fascist organization and acted as its liaison with the Christian Democratic organization in Shkodër and with fugitive criminals from the North through Anton Dukagjin, as well as collaborated with agents of foreign reaction. It has acted as an agent of foreign reaction, which it has helped with espionage, by handing over state secrets and has encouraged foreign countries to arm themselves against the people’s power for intervention. He smuggled foreign currencies, hiding 3000 or so dollars, in order not to denounce them.
The accusations were simply related to his religious activity, when as a cleric, Kurti had served everyone and had only performed his duty, without exceeding it or leaving shortcomings. According to the accusation, the defendants, Don Shtjefën Kurti and Pjetër Meshkalla, collaborated closely with the occupier and contributed to the stabilization of their regime in Albania. The defendant Dom Shtjefën Kurti, at the time of the Italian occupation, was the Chaplain of the Villa of Jakomon, where he performed informative services in favor of fascism. In relation to this charge, the defense lawyer stated in court: “Shtjefën Kurti was appointed by his superiors as Chaplain to the church of Jakomon’s Palace and went there once a week. He got to know Jakomon and his family because of his duty. From his cell to the Palace, two soldiers, Captain Paci and Captain Kola, officers of the Viceroyalty, sent him by car.
The accusation stated that: “his salary for the alleged espionage services was equal to that of the ministers of the communist government”. The defense lawyer explained that: “Dom Shtjefni received a salary of 500 Albanian francs for services in the Palace”. As for the other accusation that: “Jacomoni had given him a car for his espionage services”, the lawyer explained that: “The General Vicar had given a car to all the heads of the religious communities in the country and Shtjefni had I take this car because of the duty and not for any service performed”. The accusation had also mentioned the fact that after the accident in the Rrashbull Hills, Jakomoni himself had taken an interest in his health, and had sent him to Italy for treatment, an action that anyone would do as an obligation to his religious leader. Memorie.al
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