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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic World News

Former atheist, refugee named Albania’s leading prelate

December 01, 2021

Pope Francis has named Bishop Arjan Dodaj, FDC, a 44-year-old auxiliary bishop, as the Archbishop of Tirana-Durrës. Tirana is Albania’s capital, and Durrës is the nation’s second-largest city.

Bishop Dodaj was raised as an atheist under Albanian Communist rule, which was particularly brutal under Enver Hoxha, with widespread persecution of Christians and Muslims. In 1993, Dodaj fled Albania for Italy, where he worked as a welder and gardener. In 1997, he was baptized and entered religious life as a member of the Priestly Fraternity of the Sons of the Cross (Italian website). Six years later, Pope St. John Paul II ordained him a priest of the Diocese of Rome, and in 2020, Pope Francis named him Auxiliary Bishop of Tirana-Durrës.

Albania’s president and prime minister welcomed the prelate’s appointment.

The Southeastern European nation of 3.1 million (map) is 63% Muslim, 17% Orthodox, and 16% Catholic. Pope Francis made an apostolic journey there in 2014.

 


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