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Pope Francis to make trip to Albania in September to encourage nation that 'long suffered'

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis says he will make a one-day trip to Albania in September to encourage a country that “long suffered” from the consequences of past ideologies.

The pontiff was referring in his announcement today to decades of communist rule by a dictatorship that tried to isolate Albanians from the outside world.

Tens of thousands of impoverished Albanians fled to Italy in the 1990s, crossing the Adriatic Sea in crammed ferries and fishing boats as the regime in Tirana crumbled. Many of the migrants have since integrated into Italian life.

Francis told faithful in St. Peter’s Square that he would also use his Sept. 21 visit to express support to Catholics who make up a tiny minority in largely Muslim Albania.

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