Pope Francis will make a one-day trip to Albania on September 21st, the Vatican announced today. It will be the second time that a reigning Pope has visited the country, which is the home of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The Prime Minister of that country, Edi Rama. The Holy Father will also attend a brief reception in his honor at Albania’s Presidential Palace. At around Eleven O’Clock that morning, the Bishop of Rome will celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Tirana’s Mother Teresa Square. Immediately following Holy Mass, the Pope is slated to offer the Angelus near its traditional time of day, around or about Noon. The Pope is also scheduled to have a lunch following the Angelus with the bishops of Albania at the Apostolic Nunciature, or Vatican Embassy to that nation.
In what could be seen as a groundbreaking event, the Holy Father is also slated to meet with leaders of other religious communities, including leaders of Albania’s large Muslim population, which dates to the days of Ottoman rule over that area. Also included will be meetings with leaders of other Christian ecclesial communities which will occur at the Catholic University of Our Lady of Good Council, Albana’s national university affiliated with the Catholic Church. The Pontiff plans to celebrate evening Vespers that evening in Tirana’s Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle along with priests and religious of the diocese, as well as seminarians and members from lay ecclesiastical movements in the diocese. Francis will end his trip by having a meeting with those who advance the Church’s charity in Albania, and greet children served by Catholic charitable institutes in the country, particularly those served by the “Bethany Center,” a leading ecclesiastical charity.
Although it had been expected by some observers that Pope Francis would significantly curtail Papal apostolic travels, he has increased scheduled pastoral visits over the last few months.