Accessibility links

Breaking News

Pope Condemns Using 'Religion As Pretext' For Violence, Abuses

Believers arrive to take part in the Holy Mass that will be held in Tirana, Albania, on September 21.

Pope Francis has strongly condemned religious violence in remarks that appear to condemn Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

Speaking in Albania on September 21, the pope said: "Let no one consider themselves to be the 'armor' of God while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression."

The pope made the remarks at an outdoor Mass at Albania's presidential palace in the capital, Tirana.

He also called Muslim-majority Albania an "inspiring example" of religious harmony.

Some 10 percent of Albanians are Catholic, while about 60 percent are Sunni Muslims.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians and Muslims reportedly thronged the Albanian capital on September 21 to greet the pope during his one-day visit.

Albanian authorities raised security to its highest level after warnings from Iraq that Islamic State might try to attack the pope.

Albania's Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha imprisoned and executed some 40 Catholic priests after declaring Albania to be the world's only atheist country in 1967.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP