The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church told Christian faithful that only religion can bring an end to terrorism. While visiting Albania, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow celebrated a divine liturgy at the Orthodox Christian cathedral in Tirana where he told listeners, “I do not see any other grounds for argument capable of disarming the ideological basis of radicalism and terrorism, other than a religious one.”
The patriarch told the members of Albania’s small Christian minority on April 29, "We, Orthodox Christians living in various countries, share the same values, and we must follow them." The majority of Albania’s population are Muslim. However, there are small numbers of Catholic and Orthodox Christians. In 2011, a census found that Orthodox Christian constitute approximately 7 percent of the population.
The 71-year-old Kirill praised what he called the "resistance" on the part of Christians during their country’s decades of Communist rule. Between 1945 and 1985, more than 100 members of the Christian clergy, including seven bishops, died in prison or were murdered by Albania’s Communist government. During that time, more than 1,800 churches were destroyed.
The head of Albania’s Orthodox Church, Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana said “Our Church is marked by the spirit of peaceful coexistence among all religious communities, and the visit by Patriarch Kirill is an affirmation of these values."
On April 30, Kirill met with Albanian President Ilir Meta and Prime Minister Edi Rama.