SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) POPE Francis has condemned religious extremists for “perverting” their faith to justify using violence during a visit to Albania today.
The pontiff also spoke to thousands of people at an open air mass where security was tight amid fears Islamic State (IS) militants may be in the crowd.
The Pope said Albania where Christians and Muslim endured a brutal oppression under communism but now live and work together was an example to the world.
During a meeting with Government officials the Pope said the Balkan nation was “inspiration” on how religious co-existence can be beneficial.
The 266th leader of the Roman Catholic Church said: “This is especially the case in these times in which authentic religious spirit is being perverted by extremist groups.
“Let no one consider themselves to be the ‘armour’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression.”
He made the comments in the wood-panelled reception room of Tirana’s presidential palace.
The Pope also held a mass at the Mother Theresa square attended by up to 300,000 people made up of various religious groups.
y have been in the crowd [EPA]
The Vatican insisted no special security measures were taken but the Pope’s interactions with the crowd were much reduced compared to usual trips.
His open-topped vehicle sped down Tirana’s main boulevard, not stopping once for Francis to greet the faithful as is his norm.
He only kissed a few babies at the very end of the route as he neared the square where he celebrated mass.
It was Pope Francis’ first visit to a majority Muslim nation since IS launched their reign of terror on Christians in Iraq.
Muslims make up about 59 per cent of Albania’s population, with Catholics amounting to 10 per cent.