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Pope Francis discusses Albania trip, pays tribute to martyrs

September 24, 2014

During his September 24 general audience, Pope Francis discussed his recent apostolic journey to Albania, the Southeastern European nation whose Communist regime brutally persecuted Christians and Muslims in the four decades following World War II.

“It is precisely from the intimate union with Jesus, from the relationship of love with Him, that the strength to face the painful events that led to them to martyrdom rose up in these martyrs, as in every martyr,” the Pope said. “Even today, as yesterday, the strength of the Church is not given so much by organizational capabilities or structures (which are also necessary). The strength of the Church is not found there. Our strength is the love of Christ!”

The Pope added:

They were dark years, during which religious liberty was razed to the ground and it was forbidden to believe in God; thousands of churches and mosques were destroyed, transformed into stores and cinemas that propagated Marxist ideology; religious books were burned; and parents were forbidden to give to their children the religious names of their ancestors.

The remembrance of these dramatic events is essential for the future of a people. The memory of the martyrs who resisted in the faith is the guarantee for the destiny of Albania; for their blood was not shed in vain, but is a seed that will bear the fruits of peace and fraternal collaboration. Today, in fact, Albania is an example not only of the rebirth of the Church, but also of peaceful co-existence among the religions.

 


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