Pope Francis spoke out today (September 21, 2014) against the perversion, distortion, and exploitation of religion to justify violence as he visited Albania, according to the USA Today website.
"Let no one use God as a shield while planning and carrying out acts of violence and oppression," the pontiff said in an address to Albanian President Bujar Nishani, other state officials, religious leaders, and the diplomatic corps. "May no one use religion as a pretext for actions against human dignity and against the fundamental rights of every man and woman."
His speech came amid tightened security for the trip -- the pontiff's first trip to a majority Muslim country since the Islamic State (IS) militant group gained control of large swaths of Iraq and Syria.
Francis spoke admirably of the "climate of respect and mutual trust" between the religions of Albania, which endured brutal religious oppression under communism for some 45 years after World War II, but today live and work together harmoniously. Muslims make up about 59 percent of Albania's population, while Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christians each make up some 10 percent.