Albania Harmony

Pope Francis Prepares for International Trip in Europe. (CNS photo/Alessandra Tarantino, EPA)

Pope Francis’ choice of Albania as the destination of his first international trip in Europe reflects his trademark pastoral approach: head to the peripheries; bring healing to the suffering. But his Sept. 21 visit to the poor, Muslim-majority nation also will highlight, to a world increasingly torn apart by sectarian strife, a hopeful example of Muslims and Christians living in harmony. “The presence of the pope will say to the people, ‘See you can work together,’” Pope Francis told reporters last month, praising the Albanian government’s efforts to promote interreligious cooperation. “The pope values this, wants to show Albania as an example and encourage it,” said the Rev. Gjergj Meta, media coordinator for the Archdiocese of Tirana-Durres. Catholics make up only about 16 percent of Albania’s three million inhabitants; about 65 percent are Muslim and 20 percent Orthodox. Yet Muslims, Orthodox Christians and even people of no faith “see the pope as a charismatic person who defends the weak and the voiceless,” Father Meta said.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The latest from america

Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Jesuits, identified three “signs of the times”: secularization, the digital world and multiculturalism.
Gerard O’ConnellOctober 15, 2018
For years, the Polish church has been torn between supporting the government’s anti-migrant stance and adopting Pope Francis’ commitment to foreigners.
Melissa VidaOctober 15, 2018
The cast of “Girl From the North Country” (photo: Joan Marcus)
How did an old war horse manage to outrun a rolling stone?
Rob Weinert-KendtOctober 15, 2018
El Salvador celebrates the canonization of their patron saint—but should the ceremony have taken place in San Salvador?
James T. KeaneOctober 15, 2018