Jubilant crowds lined the main boulevard Sunday in Tirana, Albania, to greet Pope Francis, who rode in his usual popemobile despite some security concerns.
Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See said the pope could be a target for the Islamic State, but the Vatican says Francis faces no specific threat.
Pope Francis' choice of Albania as the destination of his first international trip in Europe reflects his trademark pastoral approach: Head to the peripheries, bring healing to the suffering.
But his Sept. 21 visit to the poor, Muslim-majority nation also will highlight, to a world increasingly torn apart by sectarian strife, a hopeful example of Muslims and Christians living in harmony.
Pope Francis expressed his fears over increasing violence in Iraq and prayed for peace, security and reconciliation in the country.
He also announced he would be visiting Albania Sept. 21 to encourage the Catholic minority there and the people "who long suffered as a result of the ideologies of the past."