Christianity in Albania
Christianity in Albania was established throughout the country in 100 AD. From 1000 AD, the Byzantine Empire carried out Church missions in the area. In relation to the increasing influence of Venice, the Franciscans started to settle down in the area in the 13th century. From the 15th century to the 19th century, under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Christianity was replaced by Islam as the majority religion in Albania. A Pew Research Center demographic study from 2009 put the percentage of Muslims in Albania at 79.9%. The CIA World Factbook gives a distribution of 70% Muslims, 20% Eastern Orthodox, and 10% Roman Catholics. However, the Albanian government gives the percentages of religious affiliations with only 38% Muslim, 16% Eastern Orthodox, 17% Catholic and 25% atheist or nonreligious. In the 2011 census the declared religious affiliation of the population was: 56.7% Muslims, 13.79% undeclared, 10.03% Catholics, 6.75% Orthodox believers, 5.49% other, 2.5% Atheists, 2.09% Bektashis and 0.14% other Christians.
According to the numbers given by the government in 2010 it was stated that Eastern Orthodoxy was practiced by about 20% of Albanians within Albania. However in the 2011 census the percentage of Orthodox believers was 6.75%. Eastern Orthodoxy is also practiced by many ethnic Albanians in Balkans and Albanian communities living in western Europe,USA and Australia. Albania is historically linked with both the Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy as well as Islam.It was among the first peoples of the region to receive missionaries and accept the Christianity. With the split of the Church,Orthodoxy become the religion for those Albanians inhabiting the areas under the Byzantine rule.
Although Orthodox Christianity has existed in Albania for centuries, and the Orthodoxy historically(before the arrival of Islam) constituted about 50% of the population of Albania,the first Orthodox liturgy in the Albanian language was held not in Albania, but in Massachusetts. Subsequently, when the Orthodox Church was allowed no official existence in communist Albania, Albanian Orthodoxy survived in exile in Boston (1960–1989). It is a curious history that closely entwines Albanian Orthodoxy with the Bay State.
The Roman Catholic Church in Albania is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome. According to the numbers given by the government in 2010 it was stated that around 17% of the religious population is Catholic, however in the 2011 census the percentage of Catholics was 10.03%. There are five dioceses in the country, including two archdioceses plus an Apostolic Administration covering southern Albania.
Tönnes, Bernhard. "Albania." In The Encyclopedia of Christianity, edited by Erwin Fahlbusch and Geoffrey William Bromiley, 35-36. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1999. ISBN 0802824137
- Miller, Tracy, ed. (October 2009). "Mapping the Global Muslim Population: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Muslim Population" (PDF). Pew Research Center. Retrieved 8 October 2009.
- 2009 CIA World Factbook
- Albanian Government. "L'Albania oggi" (in Italian). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania. Retrieved 30 August 2010.
- Albanian census 2011
- "First Protestant Church Dedicated". Christianity Today Library.
- "International Religious Freedom Report 2007: Albania". US Dept. of State/Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. www.state.gov. 15 September 2006. Retrieved 2010-05-13.