A Catholic-Muslim married couple who traveled three hours from Kosovo to take part in Pope Francis’ Albanian visit say that the Pope is “for everybody” regardless of religion. Valentin, 30, and Vanessa, 22, hail from the Kosovo town of Gjakova, where the mother of Mother Teresa lived. “We Catholics are just a few, but we really want the Pope to come to our small country,” Valentin said. “In the meantime, I decided to come here and see the Pope.” Both Valentin and Vanessa attended Pope Francis’ morning Mass in Tirana and then moved to the Albanian capital’s Cathedral of St. Paul, where Pope Francis celebrated Vespers. “We think Pope Francis’ visit will give a message of love and peace,” said Vanessa. Valentin said that the Pope “at first impression speaks in a very simple way.” “I really hope this visit will have an impact on the region,” he added. Catholics in Kosovo are just two percent of the population. Though Catholicism is considered an important part of the identity of Kosovo, Muslims are more likely to hold the key positions in the official ranks. A 2010 report by the Oasis Foundation, an Italian think tank on interreligious dialogue founded by Cardinal Angelo Scola, stressed that “in Kosovo, Catholics and Muslims live in different village, and the big cities and the capital are almost exclusively inhabited by Muslims.” Valentin and Vanessa both hope a Pope will soon visit Kosovo. “We need a Pope to come to our country, and give a message of unity,” they said.
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