Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yesterday, Pope Benedict received a special personage in audience: His Beatitude Anastas, Archbishop of Tirana, Durrës and All Albania (of the Autocephalous Albanian Orthodox Church). This is important and special; only a few years ago it would have been impossible.

It is an example of the ongoing outreach of Pope Benedict to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, this one (among several other Orthodox Churches) called “Autocephalous” (meaning its Patriarch is its own independent Head). The meeting was evidently cordial, and Pope Benedict was at pains to emphasize the points of commonality with the Catholic Church which produces “the real if imperfect communion which we already share," including, interestingly, the use of the "Nicene-Constantinoplitan Creed" (which, because of a 9th century Western addition, is actually a bone of contention between East and West). The Vatican release did not indicate if there was any response from His Beatitude.

The regime of Albania, recently ousted, was one of the most repressive of all Eastern-bloc nations, and the Albanian people (unrelated linguistically to other Slavic peoples; Albanian is unique among Indo-European languages) suffered greatly while being kept isolated from the rest of the world. But times have changed, and cordial relations between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches in Albania seem to be being advanced in a positive and wonderful way.

Of course, the most famous ethnic Albanian (of then-Yugoslavian nationality) is a woman named Agnese Gonxhe Bojaxhiu—otherwise known as Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Might the restoration of full communion between the Catholic and Autocephalous Albanian Churches, as a result of her intercession, count as “miracle #2” in the cause of her canonization??

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