Speculation has abounded recently about the “true” faith of Kosovo President Ibrahim Rugova. I heard someone last week state, in fact, that he announced his Christian faith on TV on Christmas day. Since I didn’t hear it anywhere else, I assumed it was just a rumor. Some people in the West might feel very good if Rugova had, in fact, converted. But you have to remember that in the Balkans, all religion is about identity and politics. To talk about “faith” here is to talk about ethnic identity and national agenda.
I do hope that Rugova meets the Savior soon, if he hasn’t already. But no one around here will see it for what it might be. It will be interpreted politically. Unfortunately, this is largely the Church’s fault. It was the universal Christian church that split in 1054 in the Great Schism. The line of that fracture went straight up through the Balkans. As a result, families, clans and tribes were split in deciding who would follow Rome (Catholic) and who would follow Byzantium (Orthodox). Nothing simple here, especially a single soul’s search for truth.
KOSOVO: RELIGIOUS INTRIGUE AS RUGOVA DECLINES
Pristina, 5 Dec. (AKI) - Kosovo president Ibrahim Rugova’s religious beliefs have become the subject of wild speculation as the health of the 61 year old, who is spearheading Kosovo's independence drive, worsens. Rugova has been hospitalised since last week with lung cancer and there have been widespread rumours in Pristina that he has told close associates he wants to be buried as a Catholic. About 95 per cent of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians are Muslims and the matter of Rugova’s religion has until now never been raised.
Kosovo political analyst Nexhmedin Spahiu says that Rugova was a Muslim, though he never visited a mosque, and had strong Catholic inclinations. “Personally, I believe that Rugova has converted to Catholicism, but there is not a single proof for it,” Spahiu told Belgrade daily Kurir……