What can Pope Francis expect during his visit to Albania?
On September 21st, Pope Francis will travel to Albania for a one day visit. For years, the country was under the rule of communism. Decades have passed, but its effects are still present. Pope Francis will be the second Pontiff to visit the country. John Paul II went back in 1993. FR. SEGUNDO REJADO Former Director, Caritas Albania "John Paul II went there after the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of Communism, which greatly affected Albania. He was welcomed like a prophet by the locals, no matter their creed. Pope Francis is likely to be welcome in the same way, but in a totally different context.â? Spanish priest Segundo Tejado lived in Albania for 10 years and knows the country quite well. He says in a country with such a painful past, national unity overcomes religious differences. Three major confessions coexist in Albania. About 57% of its population is Muslim; Catholics are about 10%, and Orthodox Christians represent 7% of its people. For decades, all of them suffered persecution. FR. SEGUNDO REJADO Former Director, Caritas Albania "The Church in the country was destroyed and now it's being rebuilt. A lot of priests were martyred...And all the churches were turned into gyms. It's quite challenging, because you have to rebuild the Church with living stones, meaning, new Christians. A lot of time will be neededâ?. Albania was the first country to officially adopt atheism as part of its constitution. It wasn't until 1990 that religious practice was accepted once again. Pope Francis says he wants to visit the country to support all Christians who suffered from religious persecution. Also to highlight that different religions can indeed co-exist peacefully. JRB/PM/KLH AA FA -PR Up:YJA