From: Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
The Church of Justice Reformism

It may not be by accident that the website of the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK) is built upon a WordPress theme called “Church and Event,” available for $69 at ThemeForest.

Clicking through the KPK website, it is possible to arrive at a “hidden” part of the website, showing various pre-formatted blog posts about church events, including inspiring stock photography. Apparently, these still linger on the servers of the KPK website…

Since it was first implemented in 2016, the Justice Reform has taken on aspects of what we can call a Messianic religion, which we call here “Justice Reformism.” The Messiah, Albania’s liberator, is here not a particular figure, but a personified abstraction of the “Independent Judiciary.”

Think, if you will, of this as the well-known figure of Lady Justice, blindfolded and holding a sword and scales. According to Justice Reformism, the arrival of the Independent Judiciary will bring the promised Rule of Law, the Messianic Age of Justice, in which the unjust will be punished and the just will be saved.

In order to prepare for the arrival of the Independent Judiciary, Justice Reformism has established a veritable religious bureaucracy in the form of the Vetting Institutions: the Independent Qualification Commission (KPK), the Special Appeals Chamber (KPA), and the Public Commissioner (KP).

We can think of these Vetting Institutions as doing the work Jesus did when he threw out the money changers from the temple, purifying the courts and prosecution offices. They do this following a specific body of law that within Catholicism would be called Canon Law, or in Islam Sharia Law. This is a religious law that often stands in tension with the “worldly law” of nation states such as Albania.

The Canon or Sharia of the Vetting Institutions is called the “Justice Reform Package.” It includes, among others, the Vetting Law, the Judicial Power Law, and the SPAK Law. This Justice Reform Package has been anchored to the Albanian Constitution through the Constitutional Amendments of 2016.

So if we indeed see the Justice Reform Package as the Canon or Sharia of Justice Reformism, Albania is currently living in a theocracy.

And like every theocracy, the clerical class appears to stand outside the law; for only they can see and predict the arrival the Independent Judiciary and the promised golden age of the Rule of Law. And like in every religion, the promised golden age never really arrives.

While, like a veritable Inquisition, the Vetting has already taken on an aspect of numbing endlessness, all members of the Justice Reformist clergy, from Bishop Luigi Soreca, Archbishop Genoveva Ruiz Calavera, to Cardinal Johannes Hahn, have made promises of the type “soon,” “in the coming months,” and “before the end of the year.” Time and again these proved to be untruths, but the theocracy holds strong. How many times has Judaism proclaimed the imminent arrival of the Messiah? How many times was the Mahdi of Islam supposed to arrive? And how many Christian sects have found their own Savior among them? Justice Reformism works in exactly the same way.

The clergy, of course, needs the protection from a worldly leader, precisely because its predictions never come true. In our case, this leader is Prime Minister Edi Rama. Like all clergy, the bishops and priests of Justice Reformism don’t care at all about this worldly leader’s sins or vices, but only whether he is able to promote their religious agenda. Just like the Evangelical Christians are supporting a philandering narcissist as a US President, simply because he supports their anti-science, anti-healthcare, anti-equality agenda, the Justice Reformist clergy, with its main See at the Berlaymont in Brussels, supports Prime Minister Rama despite the drug trafficking, corruption, and anti-Constitutional behavior he and his officials indulge in. As long as the Justice Reform Package remains untouched by worldly politics, what happens to the law of the common people is of no concern to them. Let the Rama government loot and pillage, as long they do that in the name of the Independent Judiciary.

In 1976, Albania became the first atheist country in the world, and the 1977 Penal Code imposed prison sentences from 3–10 years for “religious propaganda and the production, distribution, or storage of religious literature.” This law was of course repealed in 1991, but religion – in so far as it is actually practiced – remains in Albania largely a matter of the private, not the public domain. It is therefore perhaps not surprising that Justice Reformism has filled that vacuum, and has become the first religion in Albania with a strong Parliamentary representation, through the Socialist Party.

Just like the Roman Empire brought Christianity and the Ottoman Empire Islam, the European Union has now brought Justice Reformism. And faced with the ideological gap left after the collapse of Blairism, Albanian center-left politics has taken up the call of this new sect and used it for its own purposes. Because just like religion elsewhere in the political sphere, it can be used very well to mask corrupt politics with the veil of righteousness, while securing powerful allies without a very strong moral compass. One can see this everywhere: the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin, Hindu clergy and Modi, Orthodox Jews and Netanyahu, White Evangelicals and Trump. The dynamic is similar: the clergy beats the population into obedience with images of hellfire and punishment (revocation of visa! non-EU limbo!), while the politicians suck the country dry while basking in the legitimacy conferred onto them by mullahs, priests, and rabbis.

So every time we hear Soreca, Ruiz Calavera, or Hahn preach about the Justice Reform, we should ask: Are they truly serving the Albanian people, or are they making a promise as vague and undefined as Paradise at the End of Times, masking all that is unjust and untrue in our present world?