Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Saturday 28 November |
Saint of the Day: Pope St. Gregory III
home iconSpirituality
line break icon

In Albania, Pope Francis Will Find a Church That is "Rising"

Goodfaith17

Aid to the Church in Need - published on 09/20/14

Democracy is a New Concept, While Religion is a Lost One

When Pope Francis lands at Mother Teresa Airport outside Tirana, Albania, Sunday, he will find a country still getting used to the concept of democracy—and learning again what it means to believe in God. The Church is "rising," in the words of Father Carlo Lorenzo Rossetti, who has been based in Albania since 2003. But several generations grew up in a society that had tried to erase God from public and private consciousness.

Father Rossetti, a Fidei donum priest from the Diocese of Rome, directs the “Redemptoris Mater” missionary seminary and teaches theology at the interdiocesan seminary in Shkoder. He spoke recently with Aid to the Church in Need, the international Catholic charity.

How would you describe the current situation in Albania, socially, politically and economically?

It seems to me that Albania is like a “teenager” who suffered a difficult and painful childhood. It’s a country in a growing process.

Socially, it means a country that is trying to overcome the past, the horrible past of dictatorship, atheism and total isolation. The greatest temptation is now to give up, to renounce and to forget this country by escaping through emigration.

Politically, it is a country that is trying to learn democracy. We have to remember that this kind of political system — that we consider normal in Western world never existed in this poor semi-Eastern country. Albania, after centuries-long domination of severe Islamic-Osman Turkey, passed through rigid monarchy (King Zogu), Italian fascism, German Nazism, and immediately after World War II, through one of the most inhumane communist regimes under the radical Stalinist Enver Hoxha. The reason the rule of law is not easily taking roots is also due to this difficult inheritance. The classical heritage of Greek philosophy, Roman civic culture and Biblical spirituality, which is the very foundation of human rights and modern democracy, was largely bypassed in Albanian history. Sincerely, I do not think that we can manage an “implantatio democratiae” just by proposing free elections, under international supervision…

Economically, the country is growing, because the starting point was zero. The risks are corruption, exploitation, lack of workers’ rights, etc.

And how would you describe the situation of the Catholic Church in your country?

Well, the Church is rising again. You know that since the beginning of the communist regime, in 1945, the Communist Party (“Partia e Punes”) persecuted all kinds of religious denominations, but the Catholic Church was particularly hurt because of her links with foreign countries, especially Italy and the Vatican. The majority of the martyrs were executed in this period.

Moreover, in 1967, religion and faith were even officially abolished from Albania with the first atheistic constitution. All churches were destroyed or transformed into sports halls or stores. My generation in Albania is religiously very uneducated. The result is that usually we have churches attended by old persons, children and teenagers, but very few middle-aged men and women.

In the very first beginning of Church activity after the fall of the dictatorship (in the years 1991-1994) some older priests who survived captivity and torture visited a lot of villages (mainly in the North, where the Catholic presence was traditionally more conspicuous), proposing Catholic baptism without any catechism. You can easily encounter adults who claim to be Catholic, even “very Catholic,” while not knowing the basic Christian prayers. Often, to be Catholic is more an ethnic or sociological issue than a spiritual or religious one.

Nevertheless, over the last 20 years the pastoral work has been great. Thanks to the personal intervention of St. John Paul II, a lot of congregations and new movements entered Albania and are now serving this country. Also, priestly vocations have grown.

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Tags:
Pope Francis
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
LUXOR FILM FESTIVAL
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful...
Eric Clapton, Luciano Pavarotti, East London Gospel Choir
J-P Mauro
Hear Clapton and Pavarotti sing a prayer to t...
FIRST CENTURY HOUSE AT THE SISTERS OF NAZARETH SITE
John Burger
British archaeologist confident he has found ...
PRAY
Cerith Gardiner
12 Things we can be grateful for this Thanksg...
VATICAN POPE GOOD FRIDAY COLOSSEUM
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Learn to pray with the early Church and to di...
PADRE PIO
Philip Kosloski
Padre Pio's favorite prayer of petition
EARTHQUAKE
Bret Thoman, OFS
Two earthquakes couldn't stop these Italian n...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.