Pope's visit to Albania has ecumenical significance

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The flags of Albania and the Holy See

Pope's visit to Albania has ecumenical significance

Vatican Radio and L'Osservatore Romano

The purpose of Pope Francis' trip to Albania on Sunday, September 21, is twofold, namely to focus attention on the genuinely vibrant plurality of Albanian society--which has a Muslim majority and sizeable Catholic and Orthodox minorities, as well as Protestant and Jewish communities--and to call people's attention to the importance of enduring religious consciousness and sensibility in the face of the allure of materialistic individualism. The theme of the Holy Father's visit is:"Together with God: Toward the Hope which does not Disappoint."

One of the people participating in a meeting with religious leaders of various Christian confessions and other faith traditions that is one of the highlights of the Holy Father’s scheduled voyage, is an evangelical Protestant involved with the International Commission for Theological Dialogue with Church and World Council of Churches, Dr Peter Kuzmič, who is a professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr Kuzmič told us that the Holy Father has given a new impetus to the work for full, visible unity among all Christ’s faithful. “Pope Francis is a man of great heart,” he said, “a servant-leader,” who is, “more than a Holy Father – he is a ‘holy brother’.”

Archbishop Rrok Mirdita of Tiranë-Durrës commented on the visit saying: “I believe that the suffering and the hopes of our people is the reason behind the Pope's decision to visit our country. He mentioned himself in various addresses the suffering of the people of Albania, the religious persecution under the atheist regime and peaceful coexistence between religious groups”.

On the significance of the Holy Father's visit, he added: This visit will be Pope Francis' first European journey outside of Italy."The response on a political level to this coexistence,” the Archbishop continued, “has important value because the presence of those belonging to various religious denominations among the leaders of public life helps maintain social equilibrium. In this sense, Albania can be a good example”.

He also added that the people see “Pope Francis as an authoritative moral leader. Everyone admires his simplicity and consistency; his ability to speak directly to the hearts of all; the firmness with which he denounces the evils of today's world, mostly the evil of corruption which, here, is a very sensitive subject; his clear position on behalf of the poor, who are the majority here in Albania. Civil society is expecting encouraging words from the Pope and incisiveness in his suggestions for those in political life but also much attention paid to the international community's view of Albania, a country which came out of one of the fiercest dictatorships in Europe and which is in need of help. Everyone hopes that Pope Francis' visit will renew hope”.

Sat, 09/20/2014 - 23:56
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