Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Azerbaijan appeals to World Council of Churches

Baku, November 5, AZERTAC

The Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Azerbaijan made an appeal to the World Council of Churches on the fact that the Gregorianization of the Albanian temples has become a state policy of Armenia for the last hundred years.

Signed by Chairman of the Albanian-Udi Christian religious community of Azerbaijan Robert Mobili, the appeal reads:

“We, the successors of the Albanian (Caucasian) Independent Apostolic Church, the Azerbaijani Albanian-Udi religious community, support all the activities carried out in Azerbaijan to restore the territorial integrity established by international law, and we express our close participation in this process. At the same time, we declare that the liberation of our Armenian-occupied cities and villages by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, increases our confidence that the territorial integrity of our country will be fully ensured as soon as possible.

The Albanian Church, as the first apostolic church in the Caucasus, has a long history and has left indelible marks on the religious and cultural life of not only Azerbaijan, but the entire Caucasus. The antiquity of the Albanian Church is not only confirmed historical facts, but also confirms the existence of ancient Albanian temples that have preserved to the present day.

Unfortunately, after various pressures and influences, the Albanian Apostolic Church was abolished in 1836, and the Armenian-Gregorian Church tried to take possession of part of its material and spiritual heritage. As a result, a large part of the historical Albanian temples in Azerbaijan, especially in Karabakh, were Gregorianized, along with our historical monuments, archival materials and documents were falsified. The Gregorianization of the Albanian heritage, including Albanian temples dating back hundreds of years or even thousands of years, has become a state policy of Armenia for the last hundred years. As a result, not a single Albanian temple has been preserved in present-day Armenia or the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. Armenia either Gregorianized the architecture of the Albanian temples or destroyed the temples that could not be changed the architecture.

After the restoration of Azerbaijan's independence and the formation of a full basis for freedom of conscience in the country there is a historic opportunity to restore the status of the Albanian Apostolic Church and eliminate the injustice we face.

At the initiative of Udi intellectuals , Albanian Udi Christian Community was established and state-registered in 2003. Community registration is the first step in reviving the Albanian Apostolic Autocephalous Church. With the support of the Government of Azerbaijan, the church of the Elysee Temple, located in the village of Kish, Sheki region and considered the "mother of churches" in the Caucasus, was restored. In 2006, Albanian Church "Chotari" was officially opened in the Nij settlement of the Gabala region, that the only place where Udis live compactly and considered their historic Homeland.

Of course, the revival of the Albanian-Udi Christian community and the restoration of Albanian monuments are important not only for Azerbaijan, but also for the whole Christian world in terms of eliminating historical injustice and maintaining the atmosphere of tolerance in our country.

Therefore, as the spiritual heirs of the Udi Albanian Apostolic Church, we worship like today in the Albanian churches in Gabala and Oguz, and look forward to the days when we will worship in the occupied Albanian churches, including Aghoghlan in Lachin, Ganjasar in Kalbajar, Holy Elysee in Aghdara and dozens of other temples. We believe that the Azerbaijani state will soon liberate all its occupied territories and it will create conditions for members of the Albanian-Udi community to worship in Albanian temples in the liberated cities and villages. It will create conditions for members of the Albanian-Udi community to worship in Albanian temples in those cities and villages.

At the same time, the tolerance of the Azerbaijani people, the care and support of the Azerbaijani state for the representatives of all religions gives grounds to say that the members of Armenian-Gregorian Church will be treated humanely. Armenian Church of the St. Gregory that located in the center of Baku, preserved and restored by the Azerbaijani government, is the clear example of this respect.

At the same time, in spite of influence and pressure of the Armenian Gregorian Church, misappropriation and falsification of the Albanian heritage for centuries, we declare our readiness to cooperate with the Armenian Gregorian Church and live together in the liberated territories for peace and humanity.”

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