“Leaving No One Behind: Mother Teresa’s Enduring Message for the International Community Today” sponsored by the Holy See Mission, together with the Permanent Missions of Albania, India, Italy, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Alliance Defending Freedom International
Intervention by Ambassador Besiana Kadare
Dear colleagues, dear participants,
I feel very privileged for being given today the opportunity to speak on behalf of Albania at this conference on the occasion of the historic event of canonization of Mother Teresa.
At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Archbishop Bernardino Auza for his invitation to co-host this event together with the Missions of India and Macedonia.
It is rather rare that humanity all over the world joins unanimously in recognizing and subliming a woman figure that glows light and compassion. Mother Teresa has indeed captured the imagination of the world in a unique way. As the former Secretary General Perez de Cuellar used to say “She is the United Nations. She is peace in the world”.
Agneze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu was born in 1910 to Albanian parents who lived in Skopje, in the Balkan peninsula, which at the time was still part of the Ottoman Empire and did not have today’s borders. At the age of 18 she travelled to Ireland, where she decided to take up a religious life and become a nun.
Dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor, she would later on spend most of her life in India, where she established her religious community “the Missionaries of Charity”. So after the two Balkan regions, Albania and Macedonia, to which she was connected through her family and her youth years, India would become her third country. And after India she belonged to the whole world, who venerated her as a living saint.
During the magnificent celebrations on the occasion of canonization of Mother Teresa, it was very visible the joy and the massive presence of Albanians. And here, I would like to say a few words on the unusual and rather tragic relationship of Mother Teresa with her country of origin.
In 1979, during the ceremony of the Nobel Peace Prize award, Mother Teresa declared that “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world.“Many people saw the fact that she was Albanian mostly as a curiosity, because back then it was not a well-known fact.
But behind this statement it was hidden the quintessence of an unspoken drama. The drama was that, while in all countries of the world her name was welcomed with respect and admiration, there was one country where the name of Mother Teresa was received with profound silence, Albania.
It was also the only country in the world where she was forbidden to enter. Several times, over the years, Mother Teresa prayed the authorities of communist Albania to allow her to visit her mother Drane and her sister Age, while they were still alive, but without success. It is a sad paradox, known only by a few people, that this loving woman, this icon of modern humanism, who offered comfort to thousands of abandoned dying people worldwide, could not do so for her own mother, who was to die desperate and lonely in Tirana.
There is no question that it must have been a terrible suffer for the saintly nun to bare this cross for the rest of her life.
It was only after the fall of the communist regime in 1991 that Mother Teresa could finally visit her country of origin, and at long last, Albanians could regain their Saint, whom they were secretly proud of. Today, the International Airport of Albania is named after Mother Teresa, as well as the main University and plaza in our capital, Tirana.
Now religions flourish freely in Albania and our youth barely remembers the days when people prayed in secret and could only whisper about Mother Teresa. In stark contrast to the dark period of dictatorship, which brutally banned all religions, Albania is nowadays an example throughout the world for the admirable interreligious tolerance it enjoys and fosters.
Last Sunday Albanians of all confessions, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Bektashi, celebrated worldwide the canonization of their most famous daughter and mother. It was a blessed day for the entire Albanian nation, bringing us great pride and joy.
I would like to conclude by saying that in today's world it is hard to find a greater and more pressing preoccupation than the vocation of Mother Teresa: compassion, mercy and persisting love among peoples. From this perspective, the intervention of Pope Francis that the canonization of Mother Teresa takes place during the year designated by his Holiness as the Jubilee for mercy, has taken a greater and more universal meaning. It is a wonderful tribute to her vocation and the work of the Missionaries of Charity.
I thank you for your attention.