|Södra Albanien. Foto: T.N.|
TIRANA, Nov. 5, 2022 - The leaders of the Catholic Church in Albania have expressed deep concern about the ongoing depopulation trend as a result of emigration, which they say is “dramatically affecting the country.”
The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Albania issued a statement on Friday, through Monsignor Angelo Massafra, emphasizing that the situation is clear for anyone to see.
“It is confirmed by the pastoral work of the sisters and priests, as well as listening to our believers, who dramatically tell us how whole families prefer to emigrate for fear that they cannot guarantee a safe future for their children and that many of them have lost hope to live in Albania," Massafra said, adding it has led to "a total emptying of school structures in rural areas, and the lack of what can be called the most valuable professions for the social and economic development of our country, such as health, educational and various professions."
The statement added that the Catholic clergy is speaking out to help find ways to put a stop to this phenomenon which “in some cases, also appears in illegal forms, forms behind which tragic cases are also hidden. Behind every person or family that tries to emigrate, there is a risk of human trafficking by various structured criminal groups and their use for criminal purposes abroad."
One in three Albanian Christians is Catholic, making up more than 10 percent of Albania's population, mostly located in the northwest, but the problem of emigration affects all religious and secular communities equally, scholars note. The clergy's call was aimed at all of the country's population too.
The leaders of the Catholic Church said they appealed "above all to the political class of the country so that this problem is treated with the greatest priority" while raising some questions with concern.
Albania’s opposition said it joined the “patriotic call” of the clergy on the subject. The government has yet to react to the statement.
"The place left empty by the emigrating Albanians, who will have it? Who are we handing this land over to? What is the project for the future of this country? All this wealth that is found on this earth, in whose hands will it be? If we are a democracy, we should not be afraid to answer these fair and legitimate questions of our citizens with courage," the Catholic leaders’ statement added.
According to the statement of the bishops of Albania, " the need is more than evident to undertake fair policies and coordinate all the social factors of the country, for a dialogue that brings the right solutions. We are all co-responsible, each according to the part that belongs to him/her, in the positive or negative functioning of the social life of Albania. No one can delegate their future to a political system or to the illusion of a better life elsewhere."
The Catholic leaders also expressed readiness to help in any way they can to address the issue.
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