Former Israeli President Shimon Peres asked Pope Francis to head a parallel United Nations called the "United Religions" to counter religious extremism in the world today.
Hidden beneath Albania's long legacy of interreligious harmony and peace lie the turmoil and bloodshed of an ancient vigilante code that affects thousands of families, many of them Catholic.
Called "blood feuds," they stem from a traditional Albanian code or "kanun" that sanctions murder to restore a family's honor after a member experiences an affront, injustice or killing.
The feud can start with a quarrel or offense, which then triggers the murder of any male member, even teenagers, in the perpetrator's family.
The Francis Chronicles: "The church suffers with you and is proud of you, proud to have children like you," Pope Francis told pilgrims from Iraq.
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.
"The match is an occasion for raising funds for solidarity projects, but above all [for promoting] values that draw people together, no matter what their culture or religious creed."
Pope Francis will preside over his first wedding ceremony as pontiff in September.
Although Christians, Muslims and Jews have struggled for hundreds of years to live peacefully alongside each other in the Middle East, "we have never seen the kind of 'religious cleansing' we are witnessing today," said the head of the region's Franciscans.
"All religious communities must raise their voices against this abomination" being carried out, particularly in Iraq and Syria, by terrorists calling themselves the Islamic State, said Franciscan Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, custos of the Holy Land.
Pope Francis reassigned two prominent Spanish bishops, giving a new leader to the country's largest diocese and leaving a vacancy at the head of the Vatican's liturgical office.
The Vatican announced Thursday that the pope had named Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra as the new archbishop of Madrid and Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera to be archbishop of Valencia, in eastern Spain.
"Without doubt Poland considers the acts that the archbishop is alleged to have carried out as particularly repugnant."
Envy, jealousy and meanness are human instincts, but they are not Christian, since the division they cause among believers is the work of the devil, Pope Francis said.
"Instead, God wants us to grow in the ability to come together, forgive each other and love each other in order to be ever more like him," he said at his weekly general audience Wednesday.