Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Pope Francis honours cardinal as a "living martyr"

A living martyr”: Pope Francis pays tribute to Cardinal imprisoned for  three decades - Vatican News

Pope Francis has honoured the Albanian Cardinal Ernest Simoni (95) for his adherence to the Catholic faith under the most difficult conditions. 

Simoni is a living martyr, the Pope said on Wednesday at the general audience in the Vatican; the cardinal was sitting as a guest just a few metres away from Francis.

"Dear brother, thank you for your testimony. Thank you," Francis emphasised to him and reminded him of the many people around the world who are persecuted for their faith. After the general audience, the two exchanged views for several minutes.

During the communist dictatorship in Albania (1946-1990), Simoni spent 18 years in prison as a priest of the Archdiocese of Shkodra. After his release in 1981, he continued to work as a clergyman in secret. 

After the end of the communist regime, he frequently mediated family feuds, which often ended in bloodshed in Albania. 

In November 2016, Francis elevated the then 88-year-old to cardinal. He is one of the few clergymen without episcopal ordination in the College of Cardinals.