The Archdiocese of Scutari held a day of prayer and penance to mark 50 years since the destruction of the churches in Albania by the communist regime yesterday (6 February, on the very day of the anniversary). According to the spokesman for the Albanian Bishops Fr. Gjergj Meta, “the celebrations, which started at the Scutari graveyard, where many martyrs were killed, were presided over by Mgr. Angelo Massafra, Archbishop of Scutari-Pult and President of the Albanian Bishops’ Conference. This was followed by a procession from the graveyard to St Stephen’s Cathedral. The procession and subsequent Mass were attended by the faithful, priests, and women religious. The very cathedral of St Stephen was also a victim of the persecution in that it was turned into a sports hall 50 years ago. And it was precisely in that cathedral that Saint John Paul II celebrated Mass in 1993 during his historic visit to Albania in which he also consecrated the first bishops after the regime”. In his homily, Mgr. Massafra focussed on the “then persecution” and on the “difficulties still facing Christians today who are often victims of the culture of having, power, hedonism, and idolatry”. Then the Archbishop mentioned the example of Blessed martyr Cyprian Nikaj, saying that “we should no longer be concerned about the destruction of our churches, but rather about the ruining of our youth. Our mission is to convert chronological time into a time of grace. What is past is past; let us now look to the future, to new days. We need a missionary Church, a missionary pastoral ministry, rather than a pastoral of conservatism”.