Albania: Help for the publication of the youth catechism YOUCAT in the Albanian language
Many young Catholics in Albania come to church and to the religious instruction sessions. They want to get to know God better and learn more about the Gospels. In communist times all religions were savagely persecuted, but today religion is enjoying something of a new flourishing, especially among the Catholics. Although they only represent a relatively small minority among the population, their Church is a youthful one - with the overall average age of the Albanian population being just 30 years. As a result the churches too are full of young people.
Muslims make up the largest religious community in Albania, although it is difficult to obtain reliable figures, since after the long years of atheist domination many people now give the religion of their grandparents or great-grandparents, even though they themselves have little to do with it. On the other hand there are Muslim groups in Albania that are becoming increasingly radicalised. One Catholic missionary reports for example how two Muslim youths aged just 12 or 13 wanted to convert him "to the true faith" as he was sitting with a guest, watching a European championship football match on a big screen in the city. The two youngsters told him, "You Christians only distort the Bible, anyway!" They were clearly well instructed. Hence it is all the more important that young Catholics should be well instructed in their own faith, so that they can stand firm and respond adequately when challenged in this way.
(Confirmation of young people in Kamez, north of Tirana)
In 2011 400 young Albanians took part in the World Youth Day in Madrid. As for all the young people from countries where Catholics are in a minority, it was a life changing experience for them to be part of the universal Church and see other young people like them from all over the world who likewise lived their faith. At the World Youth Day the young people of the world were given 700,000 individual copies of the youth catechism YOUCAT as a personal gift from the Pope. ACN gave massive support for this campaign. YOUCAT is a 300 page handbook that conveys the teaching of the Catholic Church in clear and easily understandable language. Pope Benedict XVI writes in the Foreword to the book, "This Catechism was not written to please you. It will not make life easy for you, because it demands of you a new life." And he explains, "A detective story is exciting because it draws us into the destiny of other men, a destiny that could be ours. This book is exciting because it speaks of our own destiny and so deeply engages every one of us."
By now the book is available in at least 13 different languages, and more are underway. Now the Albanian bishops would also like to make this valuable book available to the young people of the country - thereby also corresponding to the Holy Father's wish that the young people of the world would read this catechism. ACN is supporting the project with a contribution of $9,000.
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