(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged Albanian bishops to “work more intensely for vocations” and to be attentive to the dangers of a materialistic society.
Speaking to the Albanian Bishops Conference on their ad limina visit, the Pope also asked them to form young people in Christian values to help them influence society for the better.
Among the bishops was the Maltese Dominican Archbishop George Frendo, recently appointed to the Archdiocese of Tiranë-Durrës.
Speaking to Vatican Radio’s Klaudia Bumci, the Archbishop said the prelates expressed concerns to Pope Francis about the financial situation of the Church in Albania which is “very poor”.
Archbishop Frendo also spoke to the Pope of his worry about numbers of priests in his diocese. “We have the largest number of Catholics now – 150,000,” he said. “But in this big diocese I only have 30 priests. I have started making my pastoral visits and it’s really painful for me when I go to certain villages when the people tell me ‘Please, send us a priest’. But I cannot. We have a big shortage of priests.”
Archbishop Frendo said that Pope Francis told the bishops to work at promoting vocations. “Sometimes it’s only a word of encouragement that is lacking,” the Archbishop added.
Speaking about the Pope’s second priority of accompanying young people, Archbishop Frendo said: “We not only have to inform our youths but form them with that Christian spirit which will enable them in the future to influence more the Albanian society.” He said the Church needs young people to be more present in hospitals, universities, and political life.
“Thirdly the Pope told us to pay attention, to be aware of what he called a worldly spirit, because it is quite easy for us to be influenced by a materialistic society, a consumerist society.” Instead, “we are to be always living images of the poor, Jesus Christ.”
At the end of the ad limina audience, the bishops gave the Pope two books on the lives of the Blessed Albanian martyrs and an image of Our Lady of Good Counsel.
Pope Francis urged all members of the Bishops Conference to “walk with hope, dreaming, and looking to the future.”
Click here to listen to Archbishop George Frendo's interview with Vatican Radio’s Klaudia Bumci: