Pope to Albanian Youth: Reject ‘False Freedom’

In remarks before the Sunday Angelus, the Holy Father encourages young people to live by the example of the martyrs.

Pope Francis greets crowds in Tirana, Albania, on Sept. 21.
Pope Francis greets crowds in Tirana, Albania, on Sept. 21. (photo: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA)

TIRANA, Albania — After celebrating Mass at Mother Teresa Square during his one-day trip to Albania, Pope Francis led the crowds in the Angelus prayer, urging the country’s young people to live a life fully engaged with Christ.

“Dear young people, you are the new generation of Albania,” he said Sept. 21. “With the power of the Gospel and the example of the martyrs, you know how to say No to the idolatry of money, No to the false freedom of individualism, No to addiction and to violence.’”

“[Y]ou also know how to say Yes to a culture of encounter and of solidarity, Yes to the beauty that is inseparable from the good and the true,” he added. “Yes to a life lived with great enthusiasm and at the same time faithful in little things. In this way, you will build a better Albania and a better world.”

In off-the-cuff comments shortly before, in his homily at Mass, the Pope remarked on the number of young people he saw on the streets in Tirana while riding in the popemobile earlier.

“Where there are young people,” he emphasized, “there is always hope.”

Before leading the crowds in the angelus prayer, he said, “I invite you to build your lives on Jesus Christ: The one who builds on Christ builds on rock, because he is always faithful, even if we sometimes lack faith.”

“Jesus knows us better than anyone else; when we sin, he does not condemn us, but, rather, says to us, ‘Go and sin no more.’”

Pope Francis’ one-day visit to Albania marks his first apostolic journey to a European country since the start of his pontificate. Earlier in the day, the Holy Father delivered an address to Albania’s leaders and the diplomatic corps, in which he praised the “coexistence” between members of different faiths in the country, while condemning those who “consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression.”