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Pope says he’s planning Albania visit

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will make a one-day trip to Albania in September to encourage a country that ‘‘long suffered’’ under a communist dictatorship that tried to isolate its citizens from the world.

Tens of thousands of impoverished Albanians fled to Italy in the 1990s, crossing the Adriatic Sea in crammed ferries and fishing boats as the regime in Tirana crumbled. Many of the migrants have since integrated into Italian life.

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Francis told the faithful Sunday in St. Peter’s Square he would also use his Sept. 21 visit to express support for Albania’s tiny minority Catholic community.

About two-thirds of Albania’s 3.2 million people are Muslim and they live peacefully with the smaller Orthodox and Catholic communities.

The Albanian prime minister, Edi Rama, said the pope’s visit would promote ‘‘the values of coexistence in peace among faiths and ethnicities.’’

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