Albanian Presents Award to Vatican Radio

Prime Minister Has Audience With Benedict XVI

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2005 ( Benedict XVI met with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who was in Rome to award Vatican Radio the «Order of Mother Teresa» for its service to the Balkan country.

Before meeting with the Pope today, the prime minister personally gave Father Federico Lombardi, new director of Vatican Radio, the award for the papal broadcasting station’s service to his country, especially during the Communist years.

The award, established in 1991 by Ramiz Alia, the last Community president, is assigned to individuals or institutions who have given particular help to Albanians, or who have fostered the values of peaceful coexistence and interreligious and ethnic dialogue.

«If we receive an honor for merits of the past, we consider also as a commitment for our future work,» said a deeply moved Father Lombardi, during the award ceremony in Vatican Radio’s Marconi Room.

«This radio [station] has always been the voice of truth,» said Berisha. «This radio has always defended the most precious truths for Albanians. It was their voice, when Albanians were unable to speak. This is the main reason why the president of the republic has awarded this Order to Vatican Radio.»

Later, Berisha arrived for the papal audience accompanied by his wife and a small entourage. He conversed with the Holy Father for some 15 minutes in the Pope’s library.

The Albanian prime minister gave the Pontiff a small reproduction of a statue of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who was of Albanian nationality. The original statue will be located in the Tirana airport, he told Benedict XVI.

The Holy Father gave his male guests medals of his pontificate and rosaries to the women.

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