Pope denounces perversion of religion for violence

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Pope denounces perversion of religion for violence
Pope Francis waves as he boards a plane on his way to Albania, at Rome's Fiumicino international airport, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. Pope Francis, who is traveling to Albania for a one-day trip, said he wanted to visit the country to highlight the rebirth of Christianity that was brutally wiped out during communist rule, and to showcase how Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims are working together now to govern the country. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Pope Francis has arrived in Albania on his first European trip, designed to highlight the Balkan nation’s path from a brutal communist state where religion was banned to a model of Christian-Muslim coexistence in a world that is witnessing violent conflict in God’s name.

Security was tight for Francis’ 11-hour visit Sunday amid reported threats from Islamic militants. While the Vatican insisted no special measures were being taken, Albania’s Interior Ministry promised “maximum” protection from 2,500 police forces and beefed-up patrols at border crossings.

Tirana’s main Boulevard Martyrs of the Nation was decorated with Albanian and Vatican flags, as well as pictures of 40 priests who were persecuted or executed after Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha declared Albania the world’s first atheist state in 1967.


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