Muslim Kosovars rediscover their long-forgotten Roman Catholic roots

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Catholics from the local and international community attend Christmas Eve mass at Mother Teresa Cathedral in Pristina, Kosovo, to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. There are about 65,000 Catholics in Kosovo, a country which is predominately Muslim. Religion News Service photo by Valerie Plesch

Catholics from the local and international community attend Christmas Eve mass at Mother Teresa Cathedral in Pristina, Kosovo, to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. There are about 65,000 Catholics in Kosovo, a country which is predominately Muslim. Religion News Service photo by Valerie Plesch

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(RNS) Old churches in Kosovo like the one in Gjonaj are reminders of the country’s deep-rooted Christian history, one some locals would like to resurrect.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Stories like this one are important. That is because so many people think that the native peoples of many places that are Moslem today have always been Moslem. But they are only Moslem because of heavy taxation and horrendous repression over the centuries ( For example,Christian boys were kidnapped and forced into the Ottoman military — in units called Janisseries},
    Somehow many Americans believe the native peoples of places like the Balkans, Egypt, Iran, and Iraq have always been Moslem and talk of Christians as if they were the “outsiders”. , But they were Christian before they were Moslem and oppression was the prime cause of the people making a change in their religious adherence. (Although, apparently, many Christians under the Ottomans secretly practiced their Christian faith.)

  • Larry

    Obviously you don’t know too many people from the Balkans.

    EVERYONE there is familiar with the history of the Ottoman invasions.

    Everyone remembers the sectarian nastiness that one faith has done to another in the region.

    The history of the region is replete with how Muslims, Catholics and Orthodox Christians acted badly to one another.

    They are also aware of the sectarian restrictions imposed upon them by the Austrian Empire. They are aware of the mass murders and forced conversions of the Croatian Ustasche. Aware of the Bosnian Muslim SS units surpressing the Serbs. They know of the Serbian Orthodox dominance of the region under Tito, They are aware of the nastiness by both Croatian and Serbian regimes in the 90’s.

    History has always been a pretense to sectarian nastiness there.

    “Although, apparently, many Christians under the Ottomans secretly practiced their Christian faith”

    Hey didn’t the Spanish Inquisition start that way?

  • Ardian

    I am muslim from Kosovo. I mean I grow up with some traditions related to islam and even today we celebrate Ramadan and stuff but we aren’t really a muslim country rather secular or non religious. My father used to go at the mosche in my village but I am sure it was more because ”others use to go” and not because he feelt muslim. The religion has never been so important amongs albanians and to be honest my uncle is an atheist, my brother too. The youngest brother on the other side does the ramadan and is a believer of islam. I am not religios. I pray in albanian and I believe in nature (call it God if you want) and that’s it.
    There are a lot of Roman Churches and even today there is a place next to my home called ” the land of the church” because there was a church early on and honestly I would like one day to scave the place and I am sure there is a lot of good stuff we can find about our roots because today there is not a church basically but some stones covered with…

  • leka

    You guys can talk what you want but the numbers say the truth. 95%of kosovo population are Muslims. I can count generation before my grandfather all of them were Muslims. You didnt do your homework like you should.Research for the Mosque in Ulcinj/Montenegro the history says when the Otomans invated ballkan they found this Mosque there. So stop trying to cheat people . In kosovo tottally are 50.000 catolics thats all. We protected them all this years because we are one nations and for Gods sake we have to help the week. Why you dont say how the 55.000 Otomans died protecting albanians from Serbia and Greece?! Just search on youtube 55.000 ushtare turq rane shehid.Shame on you guys you just want to destabilize our country and talk bad for religion. If it is true what you are saying why we didnt change religion to orthodox in serbian time. They did much more bad things then ottomans. No one can change my religion even if it is true then sorry nobody didnt want to keep ur fake religion

  • Toma

    I’m sorry my friend “Leka”. You are incorrect. The Turks killed hundred of thousands of Albanians. Albania, as the story states was catholic. It was taken over by the ottomans by force. By force! And Montenegro “malsia” kept its religion by fleeing to a better ground the top of the mountain to combat them. Gjergj kastrioti was a soldier for the Catholic Church after he realized that the ottomans kidnapped him. Yes kidnapped, and he fought for his real country and roots— christiandom. I’m not saying one is better than the other , but don’t get it twisted one was there way before the other. But like the other poster said, I’m sure most of the country is spiritual and not a certain religion.

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  • Jman

    Ardian – Jesus Christ is Lord, When you know this truth, it will set you free.

  • Guys i do not wanna offend no one, but really put your logic ON how can a human being be the ALMIGHTY CREATOR than later on a creature to kill the ALMIGHTY CREATOR. So yea All Thanks go to the ALMIGHTY CREATOR the ONE and ONLY GOD and i do accept Jesus(ISA peace be upon him) as a messenger of GOD.

  • Greg

    There is only One God, and only one True religion has been given to us from Him. Only prayer will break down the walls of division, so that they be One (John 17:21). I really like the story of the Nigerian Bishop who recently experienced a vision of Jesus extending a sword to him, and when he reached out to receive the sword, he looked, and it had become a Rosary, and he heard the words, “Boko Haram is gone.” That is the way God is operating in our time.
    http://www.aleteia.org/en/religion/article/nigerian-bishop-sees-vision-of-christ-says-rosary-will-vanquish-boko-haram-5776619650154496