December 26th, 2015
Distinguished heads of the Albanian Religious Communities,
Heads of Institutions, parliamentary members, professors, friends and guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
It is a great pleasure for me that you accepted my invitation to gather all together in this festive dinner right after Christmas, honoring this Holy Day and all those Christian believers who celebrate it. Therefore please allow me to wish you all with the greatest possible respect once again: Merry Christmas! Peace and benevolence to you all, to the Christian Orthodox believers, to the roman Catholics and Evangelists and to all Albanians as well!
The extraordinary and much welcomed news all over the world and even more by and among us because it could not have been different, the news that Pope Francis declared the beatification of Mother Teresa represents an event that leaves an eternal mark on our national history by enriching it and why not, by enriching the history of entire humanity per se.
The daughter of Albanians will be the Saint of all nations. May the memory of our Gonxhe (Bud) be eternally honored because she enchanted us and has provided us with the opportunity to identify ourselves and righteously be proud as the nation that gave birth to and nurtured her.
But tonight, as one of you but also in the capacity of the President of the Republic I have sadness: Tonight we are all missing the personality of the contemporary Albanian society, the high prelate of our roman Catholic Church, the intellectual and clergyman at the same time, the believer and patriot, the late Archbishop Rrok Mirdita, the unwavering missionary who enabled and made possible the resurrection and rebuilding the Catholic Church and brotherhood among religions in Albania. May his memory be eternal!
Tonight we received some other sad and grieving news: that Baba Arshi Baze passed and I would like to sincerely extend my condolences to all the Albanian Bektashians and those all over the world.
By now following and already established tradition – a sign this of cooperation and understanding, but above all of the reciprocal respect among the state and religious communities during the most meaningful festive holy days, we gather here tonight as Albanians, a believers, as laics and as people who firmly believe on our own history, on our own heritage and patrimony, on our co-existence and harmony, on our own deep self-consciousness that the religious faith of the other does not limit my faith and my faith does not go contrary in any instance to democracy, law and social peace.
During these Christmas days, a Holy Day that holds and cherishes a great meaning for the entire humanity, not only for the Albanian Christians, for the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics and Evangelists, the symbolic day of human being’s relation to God Almighty; the blessed day of hope and joy, of benevolence and solidarity, I would like to express to Albanian Orthodox Community, to the Catholic Community and to the Albanian Evangelical Brotherhood my highest consideration;
To the religious clergymen and hierarchy also for everything they represent in our country, for everything they have done and continue to do serving the people, faith, life, our society and nation.
It is never enough or out of place to remember and recall them; it is not going overboard to take pride with the great Orthodox, Catholics and Evangelical Albanians, with all our distinguished Christians throughout the centuries who loved and nurtured so much our national tissue, our European identity and self-consciousness, our language and writing, our Albanian spoken word and book, our faith and resistance starting with Marin Barleti to Gjergj Fishta, from Gjon Buzuku to Shtjefën Gjeçovi, from Vinçens Prenushi to Father Zef Pllumi or even all the way to Cardinal Mikel Koliqi, from Vangjel Meksi to Kostandin Kristoforidhi, from Petro Nini Luarasi to Qiriazi Sisters, from Archbishop Visarion Xhuvani all the way to the most distinguished Archbishop Fan Stilian Noli.
Of course I just mentioned very few of them. Only certain names and remaining in debt of a long list which shines like a meteor on the pantheon of our national values and assets, but it is enough to understand that this is an excellent story, a great ethical example in any given époque, an inspiration source to the present and upcoming generations, for our nation, for tomorrow’s Albania and for our very Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches themselves.
I feel honored tonight to be your host. I am also happy to enjoy and cherish the opportunity in re-iterating that religion is an instrument of peace, love and affection; that it must not be used as an instrument and be misused in service of totalitarian and integralistic ideas and scopes.
We Albanians can powerfully affirm this. We can convey everywhere our message, but we also face the task to discourage, isolate, defy and defeat any attempt that threatens our heritage, our present or casts any shadow of doubt on our future.
The Eastern Orthodox, the Roman Catholic Community and Evangelical Brotherhood and their leaders have always done and accomplished this service and I, in the capacity of the Head of Albanian State, seize this opportunity to express them my deep personal admiration and the fully deserved institutional appreciation! And as we Albanians are accustomed to say: I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!