Former Atheistic State Holds Christian Event, Draws Huge Youth Crowd

An event set up by Pope Benedict in Albania earlier this week drew hundreds of youth in the former atheistic state.

The Pontifical Council for Culture, with the help of the local Catholic Church in Albania, set up multiple events on Nov. 14 and 15 to discuss the discovery of Christianity.

Hundreds of young people participated in the dialogue that took place in front of St. Paul's Cathedral in Tirana. Some of the issues discussed were spirituality, communication, and work.

Richard Rouse, of the Pontifical Council For Culture, told the Catholic News Agency: “For example, in the ‘work’ tent we discussed 'what does work itself mean? Is it just about getting money or is there some social dignity to it?'”

A bigger one with members of the Catholic hierarchy followed the specific dialogue. Rouse said there is great potential for Christianity to grow in Albania.

"There is a great thirst for spirituality in Albania after 47 years of atheist, communist, absolute dictatorship...In communist Albania religion was absolutely not allowed. For 47 years they tried to kill God-and failed," Rouse said.

The event was inspired by a 2009 speech by Pope Benedict calling for a Catholic discussion with those "to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown and who nevertheless do not want to be left merely Godless, but rather to draw near to him, albeit as the Unknown.”

Rouse said the events would arrive to the United States by 2013. He also said the new dialogue has been a success.

“I think that was a weakness in some previous dialogue was that we presumed a bit too much about the atheists ... so, we’ve gone back a step further to say ‘okay, open floor-tell us what is it you believe in.’ That’s very important," Rouse added.

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