The letter of a priest from Burrel prison to the former prime minister of communism Mehmet Shehu

Letra e At Pjetër Meshkallës S.J. drejtuar Kryeministrit Mehmet Shehut

The letter of a priest from Burrel prison to the former prime minister of

Chairman of the Council of Ministers - Mehmet Shehu - Tirana


The day before yesterday, on 3-IV-1967, at 7 p.m., most of the Catholic clergy found today in Shkodër, we were summoned to the Hall of the Red Square of the Executive Committee. We were told, among other things, that we would denounce everything we had, with the exception of the necessary personal items of clothing and sleeping, because all the others belonged to the people and should be returned to the people; and that we would not perform any religious service, not even privately: This has been decided by the people!
I thought of writing this letter to Your Excellency, to express my opinion, not differently, but as a man to a man.

As for my books, church materials, etc. let them come and take them when they want: it is not the first time that I go out on the highway.

But, I would like to express some thoughts in general: Manuscripts are the sacred and inviolable property of the Author, unless he submits them himself and unless it is against the State Security. As for other possessions, neither the generosity and manliness of the people, nor the most elementary natural law, accepts that a thing that is once forgiven to one person or one entity, to be assigned, is demanded anew by the donor as his own. Speculation and waste struck.

And the truth is that the people, in almost every country, have accompanied their priest (good or bad) with oil, as the representative of their religion.

A black shadow has fallen on the people when the Churches were closed, the priests were overthrown, and especially the religious persons and things were allowed to be put into play, thus deeply insulting such sacred feelings of faith.

The unbridled anti-religious discrediting campaigns developed with all means of propaganda have had the same effect. In response, the people have filled the Churches until the moment of their closing. What is the value then of the attitude of an unconscious or fearful minority with all kinds of pressures?

Especially the frightened part with threats, pressures, promises and layoffs, suffers the greatest torture, because it is tied to a morsel of bread, it is forced to verbally deny what it believes; and thus the campaign that is being carried out aims to form a generation without civil courage, without manliness, opportunistic, servile, and destroys the character of the Albanian in the motherland. People are afraid to meet me, to greet me on the street with friends who are in their eyes or "touch". And who knows who they are!

Come to me now. I cannot change the course of my life, but I will continue it as long as I have breath. The external obstacle of force majeure will only have the same effect on me as a stone or earth that obstructs the flow of water: The people know me and know well how I have sacrificed my life for them.

I said that, with this war against religion, we are discrediting ourselves in front of the world, to which we have given solemn promises for freedoms and human rights in Albania. When, in the year 1945, in Tirana, on March 8, I met you, Your Excellency, because I had heard from the communists the words: "We will turn this Church into a cinema"; You answered me: "This is enemy propaganda!".

Indeed, not even the most furious enemy of the Government has made a more friendly propaganda in 22 years than you have done. I was not driven to write You Excellency, neither by hatred, nor by ambition, nor by interest, but only by conscience, truth and goodness.

Chairman of the Council of Ministers - Mehmet Shehu - at the Prime Minister -
Tirana April 5, 1967.

Sincerely, Pjeter Meshkalla

Catholic priest of the Society of Jesus.