Pope Francis made a one day trip on September 21, 2014 to Albania, a small mountainous country on the Adriatic Sea. One newspaper said “Francis’s decision to choose tiny, poverty-ridden Albania instead of one of the continent’s big Catholic powers for his first European trip as pontiff is in keeping with a papacy that wants to give priority to the poor and the neglected.”
He had other reasons too. Albania, with a Muslim majority, has Catholics and Orthodox Christians among its citizens. The pope praised the respect and trust between these groups as a powerful sign in today’s world. Other countries in Europe and the rest of the world, experiencing the effects of immigration and resettlement, need to emulate its example.
“May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman, above all to the right to life and the right of everyone to religious freedom,” Pope Francis said.
“This is especially the case in these times where an authentic religious spirit is being perverted by extremist groups and where religious differences are being distorted and instrumentalised.”
Here’s a great story of Albanian inter-religious cooperation from ABCnews.