ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
Friday, 10 May 2002
1. I gladly accept the Letters with which Dr Rexhep Meidani, President of the Republic, accredits you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See.
As I cordially welcome you, through you I would like to thank the President for his kind words to me, and to assure you of the constant benevolence I feel for the beloved country you are called to represent.
Your homeland, which can count on a rich treasure of ethnic, cultural and spiritual traditions, must draw from them the vital sap that will enable it to pursue with confidence the way of radical social renewal to which it is dedicated.
The Albanian people will be able to appeal to the well known gifts of courage and determination that are their hallmark. As you appropriately recalled George Kastrioti Skanderbeg was a champion of these virtues and was often in contact with the Roman Pontiffs. In this regard I would like to recall the concern of my Predecessor Callistus III for the ventures of this "invincible soldier and athlete of Christ" (Liber Brevium, n. 298) whom he invited in the face of the Ottoman threat to persevere in the courageous defence of the faith (cf. ibid., n. 302). What is more, how can we forget Conxha (Agnes) Bojaxhiu, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, a daughter of the Albanian people, who brought honour and prestige to her nation and to the Catholic Church? Her activity and witness helped to keep alive in the world friendship for her country, even during the dark period of the Communist and anti-religious persecution.
The Albanian people constantly refer to these famous figures and are justly proud of their human and spiritual endowments. These virtues can help them achieve the targets of rebuilding and development that await them, as you have just stressed.
This will for profitable competition is not only addressed to the neighbouring countries and, more generally, to the European Union. The Albanian people want to find their role in a broader, international framework, open to the whole world. However, the first condition and at the same time consequence of this just aspiration is the need for greater coherence and stability at home, which will give Albania more authority in the assembly of nations. In view of this, how is it possible not to praise and encourage on this occasion too, the practical efforts which enable the country you represent to go ahead with the process of healing the serious injuries inflicted by the tragic decades of tyranny?
Although the Church's mission is essentially spiritual, she is well aware of the need to keep up a constant dialogue with society recalling, as reference points for all human activity, the eternal ethical and moral values. To build a country that is free and hospitable, Christians intend to continue to collaborate with the other religious denominations that are traditionally present, with which a respectful and fruitful understanding already exists.
As I renew my fervent good wishes to you for the success of your activity, I accompany my wishes with the assurance of my prayer that with his gifts, Almighty God will help you, those who work with you, the authorities of your country and the Albanian people who are ever present in my heart.
*L'Osservatore Romano. Weekly edition in English n.23 p.8.
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