(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Thursday with the Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and his wife in the library of the Apostolic Palace. According to a statement from the Holy See press office, the two men discussed relations between church and state in Albania, as well as dialogue between the different faith communities and the contribution Catholics can make to the common good of the former Communist country.
Catholics number just over ten percent of the population in the predominantly Muslim nation, with the Orthodox Church making up the third largest religious community. During the meeting the Pope and the Prime Minister also spoke about issues facing the Balkan region and about Albania’s progress towards integration in the European Union
At the end of the 20 minute meeting Pope Francis gave a special blessing to the Prime Minister’s wife who is currently expecting a baby. Speaking to Vatican Radio after the audience, the Albanian leader said it was a very moving moment for the couple when the Holy Father laid his hand on his wife’s stomach to bless their unborn child.
Please find below the English translation of the statement from the Holy See press office:
On the morning of Thursday 24 April 2014 the Holy Father Francis received in Audience,
in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, His Excellency
Mr. Edi Rama, who subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin,
accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial discussions, the Parties remarked upon the good relations between the
Holy See and the Republic of Albania, and focused on themes of common interest regarding the
relations between the ecclesial and civil communities, including interreligious dialogue and the
contribution of the Church to the common good of Albanian society.
Attention then turned to the principal regional issues and Albania’s progress towards full
integration within the European Union.
Text from Vatican Radio website