Pope gives flowers received in Albania to Blessed Mother

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2014 / 07:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In thanksgiving to the Blessed Mother for the success of his short but eventful trip to Albania, Pope Francis paid a visit on Monday morning to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. Vatican spokesman Father  Federico Lombardi said the Pope spent time before the icon of Our Lady salus populi Romani – Protectress of the Roman people – and left the bouquet of flowers he had received Sunday during his meeting at the Betania Home for the disabled in Tirana, Albania. Those in the Basilica at the time joined the Holy Father as he recited the Salve Regina. The Sept. 21 apostolic journey was Pope Francis’ first to a European country since his election to the papacy. Early in the day the Holy Father delivered an address to Albania’s leaders and the diplomatic corps, in which he praised the “coexistence” between members of different faiths in the country, while condemning those who “consider themselves to be the ‘armour’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression.” After the angelus prayer, the Pope had lunch with Albania’s bishops at the Apostolic Nunciature. Later in the day he took part in an interfaith meeting with religious leaders at “Our Lady of Good Council” Catholic university. Pope Francis concluded his visit by meeting with children at the “Centro Betania,” as well as representatives of charitable organizations in Albania. Read more

Catholic-Muslim spouses say Pope Francis is for everybody

Tirana, Albania, Sep 22, 2014 / 02:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A Catholic-Muslim married couple who traveled three hours from Kosovo to take part in Pope Francis’ Albanian visit say that the Pope is “for everybody” regardless of religion…. Read more

Papal visit fosters Albanians’ hopes

Tirana, Albania, Sep 21, 2014 / 08:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ visit to Albania is a “gigantic event” for the religiously diverse country as it seeks a greater role in Europe, one leader at the country’s main Catholic … Read more

Papal visit fosters Albanians’ hopes

Tirana, Albania, Sep 21, 2014 / 08:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ visit to Albania is a “gigantic event” for the religiously diverse country as it seeks a greater role in Europe, one leader at the country’s main Catholic … Read more

Papal visit fosters Albanians’ hopes

Tirana, Albania, Sep 21, 2014 / 08:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ visit to Albania is a “gigantic event” for the religiously diverse country as it seeks a greater role in Europe, one leader at the country’s main Catholic … Read more

Albanian martyrs knew God’s consolation, Pope says off-the-cuff

Tirana, Albania, Sep 21, 2014 / 03:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- God’s consolation for Albania’s martyrs and other persecuted Christians is a reminder for us all of the intimate consolation that God offers amid suffering, Pope Francis said in uns… Read more

Faith brings light to hardship, Pope Francis says at Children’s center

Tirana, Albania, Sep 21, 2014 / 12:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis visited an Albanian center for abandoned children on Sunday, emphasizing in his remarks that Christian charity can help bring oneself and others closer to God. “This faith… Read more

Truth has ‘power of attraction,’ Pope says to religious leaders

Tirana, Albania, Sep 21, 2014 / 09:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The “conviction that truth has its own power of attraction,” said Pope Francis, negates the need for those secure in their faith to impose their beliefs on others. These were some of the remarks delivered during his meeting with the religious leaders of Albania as part of his Sept. 21 Apostolic Journey to the country. Stressing the importance of promoting religious freedom, Pope Francis emphasized the need to foster an attitude which regards “every man and woman, even those of different religious traditions, not as rivals, less still enemies, but rather as brothers and sisters.” “Deep down, we are all pilgrims on this earth, and on this pilgrim journey, as we yearn for truth and eternity, we do not live autonomous and self-sufficient individual lives…We need each other, and are entrusted to each other’s care.” The Holy Father also spoke of the importance of promoting an attitude geared toward the common good. “Whenever adherence to a specific religious tradition gives birth to service that shows conviction, generosity and concern for the whole of society without making distinctions, then there too exists an authentic and mature living out of religious freedom.” “The more men and women are at the service of others,” he said, “the greater their freedom!” Reflecting on societies which seek to bring aid to those poor and in need, Pope Francis exclaimed: “How great is the need for the human heart to be firmly fixed on the deepest meaning of experiences in life and rooted in a rediscovery of hope!” He noted how men and women, inspired by “the values of their respective religious traditions,” can offer their contributions. “This is truly a fertile land offering much fruit, also in the field of interreligious dialogue,” he said. Pope Francis said that Saturday’s gathering of religious leaders, which took place in Our Lady of Good Council Catholic university, “is a sign of the dialogue which you experience daily, seeking to build among yourselves bonds of fraternity and cooperation for the good of the whole of society.” “The violence and tragedy” which marks Albania’s past, he said, is such as can be caused by “a forced exclusion of God from personal and communal life.” “When, in the name of an ideology, there is an attempt to remove God from society,” the Holy Father continued, “it ends up adoring idols, and very soon men and women lose their way, their dignity is trampled and their rights violated.” Pope Francis acknowledged the suffering which religious communities in Albania faced when they were denied freedom of conscience and religion, “and how from such a wound comes a humanity that is impoverished because it lacks hope and ideals to guide it.” Since the 1990s, a series of changes have been implemented in Albania which allow for the exercise of religious freedom. This freedom, the Pope said, has opened the possibility for each person, “according to their own religious convictions,” to contributed both to the moral and to the economic reconstruction of their country. Citing Saint John Paul II’s words during his 1993 visit to Albania, Pope Francis noted that religious freedom is “a gift” which guarantees “every other expression of freedom,” safeguards “against all forms of totalitarianism, and contributes decisively to human fraternity.” (Message to the Albanian People, 25 April 1993). Religious intolerance, the Holy Father continued, “is a particularly insidious enemy, one which today is being witnessed in various areas around the world.” The living out of religious and ethical codes should always express “the mystery we intend to honor”; thus, “all those forms which present a distorted use of religion, must be firmly refuted as false since they are unworthy of God or humanity.” “Authentic religion is a source of peace and not of violence! No one must use the name of God to commit violence!” “To kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. To discriminate in the name of God is inhuman.” Pope Francis added that religious freedom cannot only be secured through legislation, but through “an atmosphere of respect and cooperation that must be built with everyone’s participation, even those who have no religious convictions.” In off-the-cuff remarks toward the end of his address, the Pope stressed the need for dialogue that is rooted in truth. Dialogue that is not rooted in truth, he said, “would be a ghost dialogue, a dialogue of air.” He added that we each have “our own personal identity”. Walking together while pretending to have another identity, however, is relativism. “Everyone of us offers witness of ones own identity to the other”; in this way, “dialogue can move forward on theological questions.” But, what is most important is walking together without betraying hope.” Pope Francis concluded his address by encouraging the good relations among religious communities in Albania. “Continue to be a sign for your country, and beyond, that good relations and fruitful cooperation are truly possible among men and women of different religions,” he said. “And pray also for me. May God bless you all.” Read more

Update in Albania – Muslims pray for Pope, security a non-issue

Tirana, Albania, Sep 21, 2014 / 06:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a press briefing Sunday the Vatican’s spokesman downplayed worries over Pope Francis’ safety in Albania, also noting that Muslims gathered in an important Tirana mosque to pray for the pontiff’s visit. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, told journalists that the Sept. 21 papal visit has been welcomed with joy by all the Albanian religious communities. On why Pope Francis did not stop the popemobile as he often does to greet children and embrace those with illnesses, the spokesman insisted that this was “because he had to respect the schedule, and not because of increased security measures.” “If the Pope would get down of the jeep and start greeting people as he does in St. Peter’s Square, it would be impossible to respect the schedule,” Fr. Lombardi said. The priest also provided some background of the one-day trip, saying that the Pope had made several reflections that have then become part of his morning speeches. Fr. Lombardi recounted that Pope Francis was sitting in the car together with David Gjugja, the director of the Albanian section of Vatican radio, who had served as interpreter for the visit. “The Pope noticed that there were many young people greeting him and said he was impressed. This is how he focused even more than previewed on young people, with some off the cuff in his prepared speeches,” Fr. Lombardi said. The director of the Holy See office also revealed that Pope Francis widely commented the symbol of eagle in the Albanian flag. According to Fr. Lombardi, “the Pope observed that the eagle fly high, but then always get back to the nest. And he made the same observation at the end of the homily, when he said not to forget of the nest, and encourage people to fly high without parting from their roots.” On the trip from the airport to Mother Teresa square where he celebrated Mass, Pope Francis also recalled his meeting with her. “The Pope recounted he had known Mother Teresa in 1994, during the synod on the consecrated life they were both attending,” Fr. Lombardi said. The Pope was among the leaders – at the time he was auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires –  while Mother Teresa was among the members of Papal appointment. Fr. Lombardi said that “Pope Francis recounted that Mother Teresa was sitting behind him during the assembly, and that he admired the strength and determination of her interventions, which she held without any reverence toward the bishops.” “I would have feared her, if she had been my superior,” the Pope joked. The director of the Holy See Press Office also revealed the sentence Pope Francis wrote in the Golden Book of the presidential palace, where he met with state leaders earlier in the day. The sentence was: “To the noble people of Albania, with my respect and admiration for their testimony and their fraternità in leading the country.” In his address, the president of Albania Bujar Nishani reminded that coexistence is very important for the life of the country, underscored the deep relationship between the Holy See and Albania and – as a Muslim – expressed his view that the papal trip is a blessing for all the Albanian citizens. “Speaking with Pope Francis, the president also stressed the need of respect to carry forward the Albanian harmony, and this is the reason why the Pope wanted to underline it with a short out of program in his speech at the presidential palace,” Fr. Lombardi said. There are no official data for the participation to the Mass, but Fr. Lombardi said “it is credible that between 250,000 and 300,000 people have taken place to the celebrations,” and that they came by several countries, especially Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia. Read more

Pope Francis to Albanian youth: Where you exist, there is hope

Tirana, Albania, Sep 21, 2014 / 05:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After celebrating Mass at Mother Teresa square during his one-day trip to Albania, Pope Francis led the crowds in the angelus prayer, urging the country’s young people to live a life fully engaged with Christ. “Dear young people, you are the new generation of Albania,” he said Sept. 21. “With the power of the Gospel and the example of the martyrs, you know how to say ‘No’ to the idolatry of money, ‘No’ to the false freedom of individualism, ‘No’ to addiction and to violence.’” “…you also know how to say ‘Yes’ to a culture of encounter and of solidarity, ‘Yes’ to the beauty that is inseparable from the good and the true,” he added, “’Yes’ to a life lived with great enthusiasm and at the same time faithful in little things. In this way, you will build a better Albania and a better world.” In off-the-cuff comments shortly before in his homily at Mass, the Pope remarked on the number of young people he saw on the streets in Tirana while riding in the popemobile earlier. “Where there are young people,” he emphasized, “there is always hope.” Before leading the crowds in the angelus prayer, he said “I invite you to build your lives on Jesus Christ: the one who builds on Christ builds on rock, because he is always faithful, even if we sometimes lack faith.” “Jesus knows us better than anyone else; when we sin, he does not condemn us but rather says to us, ‘Go and sin no more.” Pope Francis is in Albania, a one-day trip which marks his first apostolic journey to a European country since the start of his pontificate. Earlier in the day the Holy Father delivered an address to Albania’s leaders and the diplomatic corps, in which he praised the “coexistence” between members of different faiths in the country, while condemning those who “consider themselves to be the ‘armour’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression.” After the angelus prayer, the pope is set to have lunch with Albania’s bishops at the Apostolic Nunciature. Later in the day he is expected to take part in an interfaith meeting with religious leaders at “Our Lady of Good Council” Catholic university. Pope Francis will conclude his visit by meeting with children at the “Centro Betania,” as well as representatives of charitable organizations in Albania. Read more




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