The Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States will travel to Albania from the 18th to the 20th of March, on the invitation of the country’s foreign minister.
By Vatican News
The Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organisations, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, will travel to Albania on Friday.
He is visiting on request of the country’s Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Olta Xhaçka, as well as the President of its Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Angelo Massafra. The memory of Pope Francis’ journey to Tirana on 21st September 2014, and of the historic visit of John Paul II on 25th April 1993, is still alive in the country.
Archbishop Gallagher will first arrive in Tirana, where he will meet with Mr Xhaçka, and then head to Scutari, where he will celebrate Mass in the Cathedral and visit to the Museum of the Martyrs, dedicated to those persecuted by the communist regime. On Sunday the 19th, he will celebrate Mass in the Cathedral of Rreshen, and meet with the country’s bishops. Then, on Monday the 20th, he will meet the country’s religious leaders in Tirana, as well as the president of the Assembly of the Republic Lindita Nikolla. Following these meetings, he will visit the Catholic University of Our Lady of Good Counsel, the Catholic Cathedral, the Orthodox Cathedral, and the capital city’s main mosque.
The Holy See installed an Apostolic Delegation in Albania in 1920, but, from 1945, with the advent of the Communist regime, it remained vacant, after the expulsion of the Apostolic Delegate, Monsignor Leone Nigris, and the tragic death of his successor, the blessed Bishop Frano Gjini, who was shot in 1948 for refusing to obey the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha’s order to create a national Church separate from Rome. Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Albania were re-established on 7 September 1991, after the fall of the communist dictatorship.