Pope Benedict XVI has hailed the Interconfessional Bible Society of Albania as an important sign of the country’s spiritual renewal.
Photo: ALB10DJ-1: Archbishop Anastas, Head of the Orthodox Church in Albania (second from left) with (from left) Dr Simon Crisp, Director of UBS Translation Services, Carlo Buzzetti, who was TC to the Albanian Interconfessional New Testament project, and Altin Hysi, General Secretary of the Interconfessional Bible Society of Albania. (Low resolution)
The Pope gave his commendation to Bible work in the former hardline atheist country at an historic meeting with the head of the Orthodox Church in Albania, His Beatitude Anastas, who is the current President of the Bible Society.
Altin Hysi, the Bible Society’s General Secretary, who had a meeting with the Orthodox Archbishop last month, welcomed the Pope’s comments. He said the Society had taken the task of serving all the Churches – Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant – seriously from the beginning.
“The Churches, for their part, have responded positively and actively by working together for the Bible cause in Albania,” he said. “The leadership of His Beatitude Archbishop Anastas has played an important role in fostering this spirit of working together.”
The best testimony to the co-operation, he added, was the Interconfessional New Testament translation in Albanian, published by the Bible Society two years ago.
The official meeting at the Vatican was the first that the Orthodox Church in Albania has had with the Pope since it was re-established in the 1990s.
The Pope made his reference to the Bible Society after emphasising the elements of faith which Catholics and Orthodox share.
“I am reminded here,” he said, “of two important initiatives in Albania: the establishment of the Interconfessional Bible Society and the creation of the Committee for Interreligious Relations. These are timely efforts to promote mutual understanding and tangible cooperation, not only between Catholics and Orthodox, but also among Christians, Muslims and Bektashi.”
Noting that the Gospel had arrived in the region in apostolic times, he said that in the second half of the twentieth century Orthodox and Catholic Christians had kept faith alive in Albania in spite of an extremely repressive and hostile atheistic regime.
He went on: “The fall of that regime has happily given way to the reconstruction of the Catholic and Orthodox communities in Albania. The missionary activity of Your Beatitude is recognised, particularly in the reconstruction of places of worship, the training of the clergy and the catechetical work now being done, a movement of renewal which Your Beatitude has rightly described as Ngjallja (Resurrection).”
Praising the Archbishop for his personal contribution to fostering fraternal relations with Catholics, he summed up the state of Christianity in Albania by saying, “I rejoice with Your Beatitude and with all the Albanian people in this spiritual renewal.”