In his first visit to a European country and mostly Muslim nation, Pope Francis denounced extremists who “act as an armor of God” while carrying out violent attacks against the people.
While he did not mention names, Francis criticized groups that perverted religions to destroy the harmonious relationship between people of different faiths, CNN reported.
“This is especially the case in these times in which authentic religious spirit is being perverted by extremist groups, and where religious differences are being distorted and instrumentalized,” he said in the wood-paneled reception room of Tirana’s presidential palace.
“Let no one consider themselves to be the ‘armor’ of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression!” Francis said.
This is not the first time that the pontiff took aim against the Islamic State (ISIS), which has been rampaging across Syria and Iraq causing massive killings and displacement of non-Sunni Muslims in the areas they take control of. In August, he justified the use of violence to stop the “unjust aggressor”, referring to the ISIS.
The pope lauded Albanians during a visit to Tirana, the country’s capital, saying that the peaceful coexistence among people of different faiths is not just an inspiration, but a proof that it is “possible and realistic.” The country is 56 percent Muslim, 10 percent Catholic and 7 percent Orthodox.
“There is a rather beautiful characteristic of Albania, one which is given great care and attention, and which gives me great joy,” the pontiff said. “I am referring to the peaceful coexistence and collaboration that exists among followers of different religions.”
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Pope Francis”]
The climate of respect and mutual trust between Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims is a precious gift to the country,
The pope has an unusually tight security throughout his 11-hour visit to the country amid reports that extremists trained in Syria and Iraq have returned to Albania.