Paven i Albania: Samhold, interreligiøs harmoni, kristne martyrer og nestekjærlighet

Paven i AlbaniaI løpet av 11 intense timer i Albania søndag rakk pave Frans å holde seks taler, feire en stor utendørsmesse, lunsje med lokale biskoper, feire vesper med prester, seminarister og leggrupper – og en pressekonferanse på flyet på vei hjem til Roma.

Albanias religiøse sameksistens er ifølge paven en modell og et forbilde for resten av verden. Dette var også en av grunnene til at paven ønsket å besøke landet. Etter fire tiår med beinhard ateisme og grunnlovsforbud mot enhver religiøs praksis (1976) har Albania, med tre millioner innbyggere, i dag en samlingsregjering som inkluderer muslimer, ortodokse og katolikker.

Her følger noen høydepunkter fra søndagens besøk.

I en tale til muslimske, ortodokse og katolske ledere i Tirana fokuserte paven på ateismens skadevirkninger, hvordan voldsbruk i Guds navn er en forfalskning av religion, og advarte samtidig mot en relativistisk tilnærming til interreligiøs dialog.

Albania sadly witnessed the violence and tragedy that can be caused by a forced exclusion of God from personal and communal life. When, in the name of an ideology, there is an attempt to remove God from society, it ends up adoring idols, and very soon men and women lose their way, their dignity is trampled and their rights violated. You know well how much pain comes from the denial of freedom of conscience and of religious freedom, and how from such a wound comes a humanity that is impoverished because it lacks hope and ideals to guide it.


All believers must be particularly vigilant so that, in living out with conviction our religious and ethical code, we may always express the mystery we intend to honour. This means that all those forms which present a distorted use of religion, must be firmly refuted as false since they are unworthy of God or humanity. Authentic religion is a source of peace and not of violence! No one must use the name of God to commit violence! To kill in the name of God is a grave sacrilege. To discriminate in the name of God is inhuman.

I also wish to mention something which is always an illusion: relativism, “everything is relative”. In this regard, we must keep in mind a clear principle: we cannot enter into dialogue if we do not approach it from the perspective of our own identity. Without identity, there can be no dialogue. It would be an illusory dialogue, a dialogue without substance: it would serve no purpose. All of us have our own religious identity to which we are faithful. But the Lord knows how to guide history. May each one of us begin with our own identity, not pretending to have another, because it serves no end and does not help; it is relativism.

Rundt 250 000 mennesker deltok på messen på Mor Teresa-plassen i sentrum av Tirana søndag formiddag. I sin preken ba Frans den unge albanske befolkningen om aldri å glemme fortiden, men samtidig se mot fremtiden med håp og optimisme.

Recalling the decades of atrocious suffering and harsh persecutions against Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, we can say that Albania was a land of martyrs: many bishops, priests, men and women religious, laity, and clerics and ministers of other religions paid for their fidelity with their lives. Demonstrations of great courage and constancy in the profession of the faith are not lacking. How many Christians did not succumb when threatened, but persevered without wavering on the path they had undertaken!


Today, the doors of Albania have been reopened and a season of new missionary vitality is growing for all of the members of the people of God: each baptized person has his or her role to fulfil in the Church and in society. Each one must experience the call to dedicate themselves generously to the announcing of the Gospel and to the witness of charity; called to strengthen the bonds of solidarity so as to create more just and fraternal living conditions for all. Today, I have come to thank you for your witness and also to encourage you to cultivate hope among yourselves and within your hearts. Never forget the eagle! The eagle does not forget its nest, but flies into the heights. All of you, fly into the heights! Go high! I have also come to involve the young generations; to nourish you assiduously on the Word of God, opening your hearts to Christ, to the Gospel, to an encounter with God, to an encounter with one another, as you are already doing and by which you witness to the whole of Europe.

Søndag kveld var det tid for vesper i katedralen i Tirana sammen med lokale prester, seminarister, ordensfolk og leggrupper. Frans ble her rørt til tårer etter vitnesbyrdet fra en prest og ordenssøster om forfølgelsen under den kommunistiske diktatoren Enver Hoxha.

Frans la deretter til side sitt forberedte manuskript og talte direkte til forsamlingen basert på lesningen fra 2 Kor 1:3-4: Lovet være Gud, vår Herre Jesu Kristi Far, den Far som er rik på barmhjertighet, vår Gud som gir all trøst! Han trøster oss i all vår nød, så vi skal kunne trøste dem som er i nød, med den trøst vi selv får av Gud.

What I can say to you is what they themselves have said, by their lives, by their plain words… They told their stories simply… yet they spoke of so much pain! We can ask them: “How did you manage to survive such trials?” And they will tell us what we heard in this passage from the Second Letter to the Corinthians: “God is the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation. He is the one who consoled us!” They have told us so, and in a straightforward way. They suffered greatly. They suffered physically, mentally, with the anguish of uncertainty: they did not know whether they would be shot or not, and so they lived with this anguish. And the Lord consoled them…


This is the mystery of the Church: when the Church asks the Lord to console his people, the Lord consoles them, quietly, even secretly… He consoles them in the depths of the heart and he comforts them with strength. I am certain that they [the martyrs] do not boast of what they have experienced, because they know that it was the Lord who sustained them.

But they have something to tell us! They tell us that we, who have been called by the Lord to follow him closely, must find our consolation in him alone. Woe to us if we seek consolation elsewhere! Woe to priests and religious, sisters and novices, consecrated men and women, when they seek consolation far from the Lord! Today I don’t want to be harsh and severe with you, but I want you to realize very clearly that if you look for consolation anywhere else, you will not be happy! Even more, you will be unable to comfort others, for your own heart is closed to the Lord’s consolation. You will end up, as the great Elijah said to the people of Israel, “limping with both legs”.

Neste utenlandsreise for pave Frans blir til Strasbourg den 25. november for å tale til Europaparlamentet. Deretter bærer det til Tyrkia for feiringen av apostelen Andreas' minnedag den  30. november.