Pope Francis will travel to the capital of Albania on Sunday, meeting with political and religious leaders. According to Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, the pope’s trip to Albania will be his fourth international voyage and his first trip to a European country outside of Italy. Pope Francis will spend his time in Albania honouring the “victims of atheistic Communism,” Vatican Radio reports. He will also aim to encourage inter-religious coexistence, as Albania is the only European nation with a Muslim majority of its population.
In his 11 hours in Albania, the pope will meet with Albanian President Bujar Nishani and other civil leaders, preside over a mass in Mother Teresa Square, and meet with the nation’s bishops before a meeting with religious leaders. While in Albania, the pope is expected to make all of his speeches in Italian.
About 15 percent of Albanians are Catholic and more than 60 percent are Muslim.
Francis has said he wanted to visit Albania to highlight the rebirth of Christianity that was brutally wiped out during communist rule, and to showcase how Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims are working together now to govern the country. The Vatican says it’s not taking any extra security measures to protect Pope Francis during his weekend trip to majority Muslim Albania despite reports of Islamic militants returning from the Mideast.