Av. ALFDRED DUKA
The ninth part
WHY DOES THE POLITICAL ACCUSATION OF COLLABORATION NOT STAND?
-Continuing the tradition of native Catholic clergy –
Continues from last issue
Illegal seizure of property of religious institutions!
Memorie.al / When the state authorities seized the offices of the Parish Office, Dom Shtjefni had no choice but to turn to the Prime Minister, as the highest executive authority in the country. Moreover, the seizure was made by the government’s decision.
Tirana on March 14, 1946
Parish Office of the Catholic Church
Tirana no. Extra
Fort of the Honorable Prime Minister of Tirana
To Don Shtjefën Kurti, the late Jake, Parish Priest and Dean of Tirana, I have the honor to inform you that on March 12, 1946, the Organs and Authorities brought to you a decision of the Prime Ministership, which refers to the Jesuit orders and Franciscan, have proceeded with the closing and sealing of our Parish Office.
On this occasion, I have the honor to inform you that the Parish Office is not the property of the Church but the Property of the People and the Catholic Community, destined to serve the people as an office for the religious actions of birth, marriage, death and other Masses, and which Office deals with the Jesuit and Franciscan orders. With the closure of this Office, the entire official-religious service of the parish is also paralyzed.
Also, for clarification, we submit that the Servite Nuns are not an autonomous order, but are created by the Parish to help them in religious services. Therefore, it seems to me that the Prime Minister’s decision did not include the Parish Offices, and it seems to me that with the closure of these, the relevant bodies have overruled the Prime Minister’s competence and decision. Therefore, I have reminded you of the duty to notify you, for the correction of the possible error in that the honorable Prime Minister does not wish to paralyze our religious service, as well as the closure of our private and personal residence.
Don Shtjefën Kurti
After all these vicissitudes, artificially created concerns, persecutions, imprisonments and murders, the moment comes when some of the religious institutions would be closed, putting the leaders of the Catholic Church in front of new difficulties. In this situation, Don Shtjefni turns to the Prime Minister:
Fort of the Honorable Prime Minister of Tirana!
We sign Don Shtjefën Kurti, of the late Jak, parish priest and Dean of Tirana, I have the honor to inform you that on March 12, 1946, the bodies and authorities were informed of a decision of the Prime Ministership regarding the Jesuit orders and Franciscans, have proceeded with the closing and sealing of our Parish Office. On this occasion, I have the honor to inform you that the Office
The parish is not the property of the Church, but the property of the people and the Catholic community, destined to serve the people as an office for the religious acts of birth, marriage, death and other sacraments, which are related to the Jesuit and Franciscan orders. With the closure of this Office, all the official – religious service of the Parish is paralyzed.
Also, for clarification, we state that: Servite nuns are not an autonomous order, but are created by the parish, to help them in religious services.
Therefore, it seems to me that the decision of the Prime Minister’s Office did not include the parish offices, and it seems to me that with the closure of these, these bodies have exceeded the competence and the decision of the Prime Minister’s Office. It is my duty to inform you about the correction of the eventual error in the event that the honorable Prime Minister does not wish to paralyze our religious service, as well as to close our private residence.
Four days later, the Parish Priest – Dean of Tirana addressed a telegram directly to Enver Hoxha. This was the first letter he addressed to the Prime Minister personally:
Prime Minister General E. Hoxha
Last week, the Authorities completely closed the male and female Assemblies of Tirana, because the Ministerial decision does not contain the closure of the Stop Assemblies.
The staff of the Stigmatine and Servite Women’s Assemblies is being held in the Parish Church, while day by day the sealing of the Servite Assembly is broken by the Authority bodies by entering and exiting without the presence of the sisters and without having a stop inventory.
Please give us instructions on the true interpretation of the decree so as to respect the closing and sealing, as well as justice.
Chairman of the Catholic Community of Tirana
Don Shtjefën Kurti
After the closing of the assemblies, the problem of the materials they had, the property of the Catholic Church had to be solved. Facing arbitrary positions, Don Shtjefni addresses the Executive Committee of Tirana Prefecture:
Parish Office of the Catholic Church
Prot. No. 106/res.
Prefecture Executive Committee
We sign the Parish Priest and Dean of Tirana, asking the Chairmanship of this Executive Committee, to allow the teshas and takamin of the Kishnas who drowned in the three assemblies of the Servite, Stigmatine and Dashnia sisters, -Rruga e Kavajë-.
Don Shtjefën Kurti
With the departure of the sisters who served in the Military Hospital of Tirana, their Chapel is also closed, so Don Shtjefni asks to take the equipment of that Chapel, which was the property of the Catholic Parish of Tirana:
Parish Office of the Tirana Catholic Church
Prot. No. 207/46
In the Military Hospital of Tirana there is a Catholic Church and in the apartments of the Sisters who serve there, there is also a Chapel.
They know that on the 25th the Sisters will leave the service of that hospital after 18 years of service, and there is no one left to supervise the Chapel and, as we have heard, the Church will be closed, the Parish Office of Tirana, I ask that the Department of Health gave the undersigned permission to draw from the Church and from the chapel, the relevant furnishings that are only church clothes.
A favorable conclusion awaits you, I remain with full respect.
Parish Priest Dean
Don Shtjefën Kurti
Denunciation of terror practices against the Catholic Clergy
Trouble with the radio transmitter had led to the arrest of several people sleeping in the Mission, and a feverish propaganda had been developed to implicate Mission personnel in hostile activities with fabrications. The Basilian superior of the Fier Mission sends a letter to Don Stephen and asks him to intervene so that the missionaries do not end badly. In the situation they were in, those missionaries had left themselves in the hands of God and Don Stephen, hoping that something would be done for them:
Mission of Fathers Basilian Fier
Prot. No. 54/45
March 30, 1945
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your three letters that put balm on the bloody flesh! I do not exaggerate, but perhaps I am afraid that your esteemed Excellency was not exactly informed about the values of the new test. Add: We were blocked and subjected to a strict control that was done to us, due to the search for a broadcasting radio. Finally, the three workers who were part of our Mission were questioned and arrested, as well as two officers who had been sleeping in our lounge for several weeks.
Leaving aside all the suffering, the Commissioner of the Third Division, declares that the radio was not found, but they were convinced that it is with us, and added that we, like all the Catholics of Albania, formed the rational forces. Above all, day after day, the people make propaganda and verbally humiliate our Mission, announcing that they have found a quantity of weapons and ammunition, radio transmitters and military clothing…!
It is not enough to live, accused that I called the German pilots who bombed Fier in August with this radio, and that I invited Besim Belishova, who was currently a wanted person, to my house. Accused also of the fact that I poisoned a man so that he would not go partisan …, these and other endless slanders that are repeated every day, and that the people whisper things as they are said and not as they really are and thus he rises against us. We live in a gloomy atmosphere. Tomorrow a judicial process will be set up, where the judgment of the people will be sought, who, so prepared, will call a voice “Crucify him”!
I asked to come to Tirana, but I was not allowed, I insisted on the release of the prisoners, proving their innocence, but nothing. What can I do? See, Your Excellency, you can speak orally with the Government authorities. I have placed myself in God’s hands. But at the same time I support your necessary and valuable intervention of your paternal support, I respect the initiative taken by the Holy See for the intervention and for solving this problem. I ask for it for me and for all your Blessing, of Your Honorable Excellency”.
Another form of pressure to force religious people to vacate their homes was the pressure exerted on them through intimidation. Dom Shtjefni denounces these actions and informs the General Command of the People’s Protection about this:
Catholic Parish Office
P.T. General Command of People’s Protection
Yesterday shortly before 11 p.m., unknown people who called themselves policemen insisted on knocking on the door of the Stigmatine Sisters “Muharrem Karapici Street” no. 16. Seeing that no one answered you, they began to push the door with force, and the sisters, frightened by this gesture, asked them from inside whom they were. They (who were probably four people dressed as partisans), answered the sisters: “We are the police, and open the gate”
The Stigamtine sisters worried us, and since it was night, they answered that they could not open the gate at that time. Sayingads: go to the church on the big boulevard, take the vicar and then we will open the gate for you.
Therefore, the question arises: whether those persons were really sent by the Authority, but they were irresponsible people, perhaps they do not even seem to belong to this parish office, nor to the Stigmatine Sisters.
In the event that there were no people sent by that Command, please have the kindness to carry out the necessary investigations, for the discovery of these disturbing elements of public peace.
Chairman of the Catholic Community
Don Shtjefën Kurti
Expulsion and repatriation of foreign clerics
In the middle of 1945, the issue of the repatriation of foreigners was put on the agenda. However, repatriation went through procedures, often bureaucratic, that added to the suffering of those people. In the case of clerics and nuns, the procrastination and lack of respect also expressed the state’s ingratitude for the contribution of those people, especially in humanitarian issues, health, education, etc. Radio Tirana motivated their expulsion with the argument that: “they had come to Albania to support the invading army and to favor colonization”.
The Dean-Parish Priest of Tirana, who also signed as the Chairman of the Catholic Community, was interested in the procedures and had asked for repatriation as soon as possible. By February 26, 1946, more than 90 priests and nuns had left Albania, with the exception of some Ancelle della Carità nuns from Brescia, who worked in hospitals until 1948, when they were also expelled from the country.
The expulsion of the clergy, who were mostly Italians, was met with great regret by the people. In particular, the now destroyed Mission of the Jesuits, engaged in the reconciliation of hundreds of bloods, had won the sympathy and gratitude of the people, both Catholics and Muslims and Orthodox.
In a letter to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, dated November 3, 1945, Dom Shtjefni requests on behalf of the Church that: repatriation be done as soon as possible.
“We, the undersigned, have the honor to convey to the Department of Internal Affairs, the request of the Italian-Albanian nuns from Vlora, with a prayer that it will be taken into consideration and a favorable conclusion will be reached as soon as possible”.
A request for repatriation together with Archbishop Prenushi is also made for the five Italian nuns who served in the Civil Hospital of Gjirokastra, if they are not provided with the religious service they had. He sends that request privately to the Minister of Health, Dr. Ymer Dishnica.
There are other documents that prove his interest in the process of repatriation of foreign clergy and nuns:
P.T. Protection of the People
The Parish Office of Tirana requests from the People’s Protection Command permission to repatriate to Italy for the Stigmatine sisters:
1 – Colonna Carnela (Aposia)
2 – Ranieri Celestina
We attach the relevant documents for both. The sisters in question have served in Albania in hospitals – as can be seen in the certificate issued by Circola Galibardi. Both leave for health reasons.
The parish priest
Don Shtjefën Kurti
This is how he acts for Father Panaro Alberto, for who in letter 257/45 dated 31.7.1945; he requests repatriation “for health reasons”. Perhaps the reason of the clergyman in question was only the escape from the endless drags and the desire to escape from that hostile environment. On this date, in letter No. 156/45, requested repatriation for Mr. Don Paolo Bidano Egilia Bernabei and Maria Tarabegli, who according to Dom Kurti “are not needed for the service of our Church, therefore they are free to leave for their homeland”.
As can be seen from the wording of the letters, the situation had to be presented as if these foreigners were fleeing on their own for various reasons, health, etc., or that there was no longer a need for them, hiding the true fact that they had become undesirable for the state. Memorie.al
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