The schedule for Pope Francis’s one-day trip to Albania, where religion was banned for several decades under a Communist regime, has been unveiled by the Vatican.
After a quick flight over Italy and the Adriatic Sea, Pope Francis will spend 11 hours in Albania on Sunday September 21, giving him time to meet the nation’s leaders and bishops as well as disadvantaged children and other people assisted by Catholic charitable organisations.
According to the schedule released by the Vatican, Pope Francis will hold a late-afternoon meeting with leaders of other religions and other Christian communities. Albania has a population of about 3.2 million, more than half of whom are Muslims. According to Vatican statistics, about 16 per cent of the population is Roman Catholic. About seven per cent belong to the Orthodox Church.
The Pope will spend the entire day in Tirana, Albania’s capital. His flight to Albania will land in and take off from Mother Teresa International Airport and his Mass with Albania’s Catholics will be celebrated in Mother Teresa Square.
Religion was banned during Communist rule in Albania from 1967 to 1990.
Here is the Pope’s itinerary as released by the Vatican. Times listed are local, with British Summer Time and Eastern Daylight Time in parenthesis.
Sunday, September 21 (Rome, Tirana, Rome)
— 7:30am (6:30am; 1:30am) Departure from Rome’s Fiumicino airport for Tirana
— 9am (8am; 3am) Arrival at Mother Teresa International Airport in Tirana
— 9:30am (8:30am; 3:30am) Welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace, courtesy visit with the president
— 10am (9am; 4am) Meeting with government authorities at the presidential palace. Speech by the Pope
— 11am (10am; 5am) Mass in Mother Teresa Square. Homily by Pope. Recitation of the Angelus prayer. Remarks by Pope
— 1:30pm (12:30pm; 7:30am) Lunch with the bishops of Albania and the papal entourage in the apostolic nunciature
— 4pm (3pm; 10am) Meeting with leaders of other religions and other Christian denominations at the Catholic University of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Speech by Pope
— 5pm (4pm; 11am) Celebration of vespers with priests, men and women religious, seminarians and members of lay movements in the Tirana cathedral. Speech by Pope
— 6:30pm (5:30pm; 12:30pm) Meeting with children assisted by the Bethany Centre and with representatives of those assisted by other charitable centres in the church at the Bethany Center. Speech by Pope
— 7:45pm (6:45pm; 1:45pm) Farewell ceremony at the Mother Teresa International Airport
— 8pm (7pm; 2pm) Departure from Tirana to Rome
— 9:30pm (8:30pm; 3:30pm) Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport
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