Vatican 2014-09-20 -- Pope Francis was scheduled to make a one-day trip to Albania on Sunday, September 21, 2014. Christopher Wells is in Tirana to cover the visit of the Holy Father and sent the following report on what the people of Albania are expecting:

It was only twenty years ago that Albania emerged from the long night of the brutal and repressive communist regime. But in many ways the hope and promise of the early days of freedom have not been realized. Speaking with Albanians, one gets a sense of the frustration many feel that the new era has not lived up to its promises.

It’s a common feeling, perhaps, in many former communist nations that have tried to emulate the western democracies, replacing radical atheistic materialism with the more individualistic consumerism of first world nations. But capitalistic materialism has not even fulfilled its own promise of economic prosperity, much less answered the spiritual longing in the hearts of the people.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, is bringing a new message of hope to Albania. The motto of his voyage, “Together with God: Toward the Hope which does not Disappoint,” points to a hope beyond this world.

It is a message that echoes the words of his predecessors in the See of Peter. In 2008, speaking to the Albanian Bishops during their ad limina visit to Rome, Benedict XVI said, “As successors of the Apostles, [the Bishops] are called above all to bear witness to another particularly beneficial and constructive heritage: the message of salvation brought into the world by Jesus Christ. In this regard, after the dark night of the communist dictatorship, which was incapable of understanding the Albanian people with their ancestral traditions, it was providentially provided for the Church to be born anew.”

The new birth of faith in Albania still faces many challenges. While there is a deep hunger for the faith among many people, the legacy of years of religious persecution has left them yearning for a new and deeper evangelization. “Together,” in a spirit of collaboration with all women and men of good will, “with God,” Pope Francis message can inspire in the people of Albania a true hope, “a hope which does not disappoint.”