Bishops from the Republic of Albania were at the Vatican today to meet with the Holy Father and to visit the tomb of St. Peter. During his audience with the prelates, Benedict XVI called on them to strengthen their cooperation to better face the Church’s problems and difficulties.
In his address to them the Holy Father recalled how, "following the dark night of the communist dictatorship," the Church in Albania "was providentially able to recover, thanks also to the apostolic strength" of Servant of God John Paul II who visited the country in 1993, "reconstituting the Catholic hierarchy for the good of believers and of the Albanian people."
Pope Benedict called upon the bishops to continue to strive for unity within the Albanian Catholic Church by their actions and an awareness of their shared responsibility for the Church. This awareness is essential “to face the problems and difficulties of the Church in Albania,” the Pope said.
Despite a growing Albanian economy, the country is still one of the poorest in Europe. The lack of employment has led large numbers of Albanians to immigrate to other countries, a fact which the Pope addressed with the bishops.
The shifting of the Albanian faithful, both within the country and to other countries, necessitates “the need to engage in dialogue with bishops from other countries, "in order to offer necessary and urgent pastoral assistance,” the Pope told the prelates. The Pontiff added that he understands “the difficulties of a lack of clergy. I am also aware of the generosity of many of your priests, who work in precarious situations, committed to offering their ministry to the Catholic faithful of Albanian origin in foreign lands."
"Among your priorities, may the promotion of vocations always be a primary concern. On this the future of the Church in Albania depends."
Benedict XVI also noted that the agreement granting non-profit status to the Church in Albania is a positive development and that he trusts that “these provisions may help towards the spiritual reconstruction of the country, given the positive role the Church plays in society."