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Pope announces September visit to Albania

By Sarah Mac Donald - 16 June, 2014

Pope FrancisPope Francis on Sunday announced plans to visit the Albanian capital, Tirana, on 21 September at the invitation of the catholic bishops there and the authorities.

After praying the Angelus on Sunday, the Pope told the crowds of faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square, “With this short trip I would like to confirm the Church in Albania in the faith and demonstrate my encouragement to a country that has long suffered as a result of the ideologies of the past.”

This is the first trip to Albanian by a pope since John Paul II visited in April 1993.

Elsewhere, Pope Francis expressed special concern for the people of Iraq and hopes for future peace and reconciliation in the country “where all Iraqis, regardless of their religious affiliation, can build their homeland together, making it a model of coexistence”.

He underlined that he was “following with deep concern the events of recent days in Iraq” and he invited the faithful to “join me in prayer for the dear nation of Iraq, especially for the victims and for those who suffer most from the consequences of the rising wave of violence, especially for the many people, including many Christians, who had to leave their own home”.

In his visit to the Community of Sant’Egidio on Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis met with members of the city’s poor and hit out at the ‘throwaway culture’ and neglect in a tired Europe.

“Europe is tired, let’s help it to find itself”, the Pope urged.

“A modern culture based on discarding, where anything that is not needed or does not produce is discarded” is a form of “underlying euthanasia” the Pontiff said in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Citing the low birth rate in Europe as an example of this throwaway culture, notably in Italy, France and Spain where “children are discarded” but also the elderly are discarded, he said the economic crisis was so profound “that even young people are being discarded” in a reference to the high levels of youth unemployment.

He expressed regret over the “millions of young people who neither work nor study”.

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