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One of the poorest, most atheistic places in Europe, Albania is a natural destination for Francis
Catholic Herald ^ | June 16, 2014 | FR ALEXANDER LUCIE-SMITH

Posted on 06/16/2014 3:03:48 PM PDT by NYer

Albanian Catholic women at prayer in northern Albania. The Pope visits the country in September (CNS)

Albanian Catholic women at prayer in northern Albania. The Pope visits the country in September (CNS)

Pope Francis is making a day long pastoral visit to Albania this coming September, he has announced. His words at yesterday’s Angelus were as follows: “I want to confirm the Church of Albania in the faith, and bear witness to my encouragement and love for a country that has suffered for so long in consequence of the ideologies of the past.”

This will be the second trip of any Pontiff to the country. (Saint John Paul II was there in the spring of 1993, also for one day.) Indeed, just a few decades ago, back in 1967, Albania, under the leadership of Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour, was declared the world’s first atheist state. This declaration was not entirely fanciful. Hoxha and his thugs had destroyed every single place of worship, either by demolishing them or turning them into museums of atheism or sports halls. All the clergy were expelled, if they were lucky. This policy worked. Even today, Albania is one of the least religious countries in the world. About ten per cent of the country is Catholic, mainly concentrated in the northern part of the country, and no doubt they could do with a little encouragement from the Pope.

Albania suffers not just from a particularly brutal history under communism – Comrade Hoxha was in the habit of shooting people dead at party meetings – and being the last country to shake off communist rule. (Its communism was of a rather odd type, in that Hoxha quarrelled with the Russians, ploughing his own furrow, with some help from the Chinese.)

Until 1913, the country was part of the Ottoman Empire, being more or less the last major Balkan territory to be held by the Turks. Many Albanians served the Ottoman Empire with distinction, and several of the Grand Viziers were Albanian; it was part of the Ottoman tradition to recruit conquered peoples and co-opt them into government: the way this was done was through conversion to Islam. That the Albanians co-operated with the Turks is seen by the fact that even today about 60 per cent of the Albanian population is Muslim. This makes Albania the only European country to have a Muslim majority. (Of the other former Turkish territories, Bosnia is just under half Muslim; and Macedonia is about one-third Muslim.) But these Balkan Muslims are rather different from Muslims in Turkey or Arab countries. Being the last to convert, they wear their Islamic identity lightly. It is for this reason that various stricter exponents of Islam view the Balkans almost as missionary territory, and that much Saudi money has been sapent in building mosques in the region.

After the fall of Communism, the Catholic Church had to restart its mission almost from scratch. Quite a few new churches have been built and parishes and dioceses established. Lots of foreign missionaries, from Italy in particular, have gone to work in the country. Seminaries have opened. What makes Albania a special case is that many thousands of Albanians live or have lived in Italy, as economic migrants, and therefore have had some contact with Catholicism and Catholic culture.

Albania is not the poorest country in Europe – that accolade goes to Moldova – but it must look that way to many travellers, quite a few of whom have written scathingly about it. It is certainly not well developed for tourism. Paul Therous said some very rude things about the place in his book about the Mediterranean, The Pillars of Hercules. Dervla Murphy, the intrepid Balkan traveller, has also written about it in less than glowing tetrms. But for one traveller in particular, Albania is a natural destination. It has everything for someone like Pope Francis. It represents a turning towards the poor. It is a missionary land, where the Church is not comfortable, but very much on the edge. And it is a place where, I think, he will do much good. The Catholics in Albania must be thrilled by the news he is coming; and other Albanians too must take his visit as a compliment.



TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics
KEYWORDS: albania; pope

1 posted on 06/16/2014 3:03:48 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 06/16/2014 3:04:22 PM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: NYer

Albania is also the most Muslim place in Europe.


3 posted on 06/16/2014 3:14:11 PM PDT by MeganC (Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.)
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To: NYer

Given the inherently expensive nature of the Pope traveling abroad, it seems to me that it would be a well-received symbolic gesture to provide “simple food” to those who came to attend.

His advance team would, for example, bring tons of flour and other ingredients to make a very large amount of bread, made by local bakers paid to do so. Not expensive at all, compared to other expenses.

The symbolism involved is not just the body, but also in the idea of abundance flowing therefrom. That faith brings prosperity and community.


4 posted on 06/16/2014 3:23:42 PM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy ("Don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative." -Obama, 09-24-11)
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To: NYer
MOTHER THERESA was from Albania.
Imagine, a super-commie country produced a real-live saint with Mother Theresa, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.
Her first mission in Calcutta was to gather up the DYING, those DYING, totally neglected, abandoned and DISCARDED into the streets of Calcutta ... and allow them DIE in dignity, inside, in bed, cared for and loved by Mother Theresa. The stories about her work made me WEEP with pity for those poor souls.

Mother Theresa DID get much FLACK from those who thought it was someone's karma to die that way. SO not a Christian country.

From the Internet:
The Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, M.C., commonly known as Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), was a Roman Catholic Religious Sister and missionary of Albanian origin who lived for most of her life in India.

Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation, which in 2012 consisted of over 4,500 sisters and is active in 133 countries.
They run hospices and homes for people with HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children's and family counseling programs; orphanages; and schools.
Members of the order must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, and the fourth vow, to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor".

========================================

The "blessed" part means that eventually she will be SAINT Theresa of Albania. Hah, it would be Albania's first and only saint...but what a saint.

5 posted on 06/16/2014 3:52:39 PM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: cloudmountain

“Imagine, a super-commie country produced a real-live saint with Mother Theresa, born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.”

Of course she was already 35 when Albania turned communist. And she left the country 17 years before that.


6 posted on 06/16/2014 4:19:53 PM PDT by vladimir998
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To: vladimir998
Of course she was already 35 when Albania turned communist. And she left the country 17 years before that.

Thank you.
I was reading her biography on-line and that wasn't mentioned. Of course, she was a nun and by that very calling she was helping people, wasn't she?

7 posted on 06/16/2014 4:22:35 PM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: cloudmountain

Mother Teresa was ethnic Albanian, but born in Skopje, now the capital of the Republic of Macedonia. Her parents were apparently born in Kosovo. It doesn’t look like she ever lived in Albania.


8 posted on 06/16/2014 4:55:08 PM PDT by Verginius Rufus
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To: NYer

WOW Pope going to Albanina????


9 posted on 06/16/2014 4:56:21 PM PDT by SevenofNine (We are Freepers, all your media bases belong to us ,resistance is futile)
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To: Verginius Rufus
From the Internet:

An ethnic Albanian born Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu (Albanian: [aˈɲɛz ˈɡɔɲdʒe bɔjaˈdʒiu]) (gonxha meaning "rosebud" or "little flower" in Albanian) on 26 August 1910, she considered 27 August, the day she was baptized, to be her "true birthday". Her birthplace of Skopje, now capital of the Republic of Macedonia, was at the time part of the Ottoman Empire.

She was the youngest of the children of Nikollë and Dranafile Bojaxhiu (Bernai). Her father, who was involved in Albanian politics, died in 1919 when she was eight years old After her father's death, her mother reared her as a Roman Catholic. Her father may have been from Prizren, Kosovo while her mother may have been from a village near Yakova.
According to a biography written by Joan Graff Clucas, in her early years Agnes was fascinated by stories of the lives of missionaries and their service in Bengal, and by age 12 had become convinced that she should commit herself to a religious life.
Her final resolution was taken on 15 August 1928, while praying at the shrine of the Black Madonna of Letnice, where she often went on pilgrimage.
She left home at age 18 to join the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary. She never again saw her mother or sister.
Agnes initially went to the Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland, to learn English, the language the Sisters of Loreto used to teach school children in India. She arrived in India in 1929, and began her novitiate in Darjeeling, near the Himalayan mountains, where she learned Bengali and taught at the St. Teresa's School, a schoolhouse close to her convent.
She took her first religious vows as a nun on 24 May 1931. At that time she chose to be named after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries, but because one nun in the convent had already chosen that name, Agnes opted for the Spanish spelling Teresa.
She took her solemn vows on 14 May 1937, while serving as a teacher at the Loreto convent school in Entally, eastern Calcutta. Teresa served there for almost twenty years and in 1944 was appointed headmistress.
Although Teresa enjoyed teaching at the school, she was increasingly disturbed by the poverty surrounding her in Calcutta (Kolkata). The Bengal famine of 1943 brought misery and death to the city; and the outbreak of Hindu/Muslim violence in August 1946 plunged the city into despair and horror.

==========================================

Whenever I read about Mother Teresa ALBANIA is used in her biography. THAT is why I do it.

10 posted on 06/16/2014 5:07:11 PM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: cloudmountain

One of the members of our parish is an Indian and he gave me some great insight into their culture. As a Catholic, he believed that all souls were equal in God’s eyes which in practice leads to a much different society than exists now in India. Since the people’s condition there were a result of Karma, no one would work for change. He said ideas and beliefs do have meaning for how we live our lives.


11 posted on 06/16/2014 6:26:30 PM PDT by Shark24
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To: MeganC
Albania is also the most Muslim place in Europe.

Actually, that was the one silver lining of Hoxha's rule, is he destroyed Islam there. In fact, most Albanians fear the Kosovars, because under Tito, there was no such repression of Islam, and they fear they will eventually try to impose Islam on Albania proper.

12 posted on 06/16/2014 6:29:48 PM PDT by dfwgator
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To: Shark24
One of the members of our parish is an Indian and he gave me some great insight into their culture. As a Catholic, he believed that all souls were equal in God’s eyes which in practice leads to a much different society than exists now in India. Since the people’s condition there were a result of Karma, no one would work for change. He said ideas and beliefs do have meaning for how we live our lives.

=====================================

Your Indian parishioner is correct.
India DID do away with caste a while back but it had been an INTEGRAL part of India too long and caste survives.

India also has hundreds of millions of "faces" of God (human, animal, objects, creatures, you name it) and that is the antithesis of Christianity...Judaism and Islam too for that matter.

There ARE Catholics there in India and many men are named THOMAS after Jesus' "doubting Thomas" Apostle who went all the way to India in his missionary zeal.

When my husband and I worked for ARAMCO way back, we saw those Indian Catholics there working for Saudi Aramco, a few Thomas-named Catholic men as well.

13 posted on 06/16/2014 8:04:07 PM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: NYer

How about taking two minutes to call Donald Wuerl, and telling him to do his job?

How about calling Nancy Pelosi, and telling her to...warning her that she’s going to Hell?


14 posted on 06/16/2014 9:07:20 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Arthur McGowan

Hang in there, look for Donald Wuerl down the road to hand his walking papers in, and retire.


15 posted on 06/17/2014 3:09:43 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: Biggirl

It’s something like 18 months until his 75th birthday.


16 posted on 06/17/2014 8:21:32 AM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: SevenofNine

Resist We Much!


17 posted on 06/17/2014 8:23:17 AM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Shark24

We have an Indian priest in our diocese. He got a kick out of Americans, who would ask, “How long has your family been Catholic?” He would say, “Since St. Thomas!”


18 posted on 06/17/2014 8:24:58 AM PDT by Arthur McGowan
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To: Arthur McGowan

Well, it is not that far away, hang in there!


19 posted on 06/17/2014 8:32:04 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: Arthur McGowan

That is living history!


20 posted on 06/17/2014 8:33:01 AM PDT by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: Arthur McGowan

Excellent. The gentleman I referred to in my post has not one but two sisters who became nuns. Impressive.


21 posted on 06/17/2014 3:20:07 PM PDT by Shark24
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