(Vatican Radio) In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Metropolitican Archbishop of Tirana, Rrok Mirdita said the Catholic Church in Albania was very “grateful and happy” for the upcoming visit there by Pope Francis on September 21st. He said the Pope would be coming to Albania to help anchor them in their faith and to pay homage to those Catholics and others who suffered martyrdom during the communist dictatorship.
Asked about inter-faith relations, Archbishop Mirdita noted that followers of the nation’s four main religious groups, Sunni Muslims, Orthodox Christians, Catholics and Bektashi Muslims live together in a peaceful manner and thus Albania can be seen as “an exemplary model of peaceful co-existence” between different religions. The Archbishop said the Catholic Church is now flourishing after putting behind it the persecutions during communist rule but said he hopes that the papal visit will help give a fresh impetus and prevent the local Church from becoming too stuck in its ways. Although Albanian society has changed a lot since the fall of communism, Archbishop Mirdita pointed out that many challenges remain unsolved such as corruption, poverty, unemployment and organized crime. On the plus side, he added, Albania has the youngest population in Europe with strong family values, respect for the elderly and has been able to maintain social peace despite the trauma of its past history.
Albert Nikolla is the Coordinator of the papal visit to Albania and he spoke to Vatican Radio about the expectations ahead of this trip, saying the Church and Albanians in general were very happy about it:
Listen to the interview with Albert Nikolla in English:
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