Albania, an example of interreligious coexistence in Europe
July 2nd, 6 pm
Circolo della Stampa
Montanelli meeting room - Corso Venezia, 48
Albania was part of the Ottoman Empire during five centuries, in which it was the only Islamic country in Europe. Then, it became, for a short time, a kingdom with no official religion. Afterwards, with the communist government of Enver Hoxha, established after WWII, Albania became the only country in the world that adopted State atheism, by including this principle in the 1976 Constitution. Foreigner Catholic priests, friars and nuns were expelled from the country, a lot of churches and mosques were destroyed, whereas others were used by the State as places for civilian goals, such as cultural centers or even industrial warehouses. A harsh antireligious campaign took place that lasted until the late Eighties.
Today, after 25 years, Albania is a model for religious pluralism in Europe, where the Muslim majority lives peacefully with the Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic components.
In September 2014, Pope Francis chose Albania as the first destination when travelling for the first time throughout Europe to highlight that “this country, that as we know dealt with great difficult situations in the past, chose not to ever use religion as a reason for clash and conflict” (Card. P. Parolin, Vatican State Secretary).
With this same background in mind, Albania will host the next International Meeting “People and Religion”, that Community of Sant’Egidio has been supporting every year since 1987 to renew the historical meeting of John Paul II with the world religion leaders that took place in Assisi in 1986.
Lucjan Avgustini, Catholic Bishop, vice president of the Albanian Episcopal Conference
Andon Merdani, Ortodox Bishop Church of Albania
Baba Mondi, Bektashi movement leader, Albania
Femi Cakolli, Shepherd of the Protestant Church, Kosovo
Genti kruja, Director of Culture and Interreligious Dialogue in Albanian Muslim Community
Moderator: Alberto Quattrucci, General Secretary of International Meeting Man and Religions
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