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Sunday, September 21, 2014
Pope Francis arrives in Albania - Video Ceremony and Text
Pope Francis in Albania
(Vatican Radio ) This Sunday, September 21st Pope Francis is in Albania’s capital city Tirana on a day long Apostolic journey to this Balkan nation, his fourth abroad and his first to a European nation outside of Italy. The theme of this visit is ‘Together in God’ .
Pope Francis was welcomed warmly in this majority Muslim nation where Catholics number around 15%, and Orthodox around 10% and celebrated Holy Mass in Tirana's Mother Teresa Square, making his way there in his open top white jeep, the same one he uses in Rome for public audiences in Saint Peter’s Square.
During his homily at Holy Mass Pope Francis encouraged Albanians to cultivate hope, calling younger generations to open their hearts to Christ and to fulfill their roles in the Church and in society. He also thanked the people of this nation for having kept the faith during times of harsh persecution.
Commenting on the fact that the Albanian population is a young one, he also remarked how while Albanians must not forget the wounds of the past they should go forward and fly high on the wings of hope for a great future.
Intermittent, sometimes heavy rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of the tens of thousands of Albanians who turned out for the Papal Mass on Sunday morning in Tirana.
The theme of hope has been prominent during this journey: the hope for peace, the hope for a better future, the hope for a new springtime for the Catholic Faith in Albania. It’s a hope that you can feel in the air – and it was that spirit of hope that inspired Pope Francis’ remarks in his homily that that people of Albania are a young people. The Albanians who came out to greet Pope Francis, whether young or old in years, gave the impression of a young people going forward in hope.
That youthful attitude is something Pope Francis has called for throughout his pontificate, and it was clear Sunday morning that the Holy Father saw in the crowds here in Tirana the evangelical missionary spirit he has called for so often.
But if it is a young nation, it is also a country with a history, a sad history that has likewise played a great role in Pope Francis’ voyage. The legacy of almost 50 years of communist oppression has left its mark on the land and the people. “Those who were afraid of the truth,” the Pope said, “did everything they could to banish God from the hearts of men and women, and to exclude Christ and the Church from the history of your country.” Their attempt was frustrated, and the atheistic regime was only able to produce an army of martyrs, one more glorious chapter in the history of the Church in Albania.
A young people with a long history. A people going forward, with God, in hope. It’s no surprise that Pope Francis sees in Albania a model for the world.