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Pope pays tribute to “living martyr” of Communism

Pope Francis paid tribute to Cardinal Ernest Simoni (present at the audience), the Albanian “living martyr” who spent 18 years of his life between prison and hard labor during the Communist era. At the end of the general audience on February 14, 2024, the Pope asked for applause for the 95-year-old, “who continues to work for the Church without becoming discouraged.”

“Dear brother, I thank you for your testimony.” In the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis turned to Cardinal Ernest Simoni to pay him a heartfelt tribute. Referring to the great number of martyrs dying today for their faith in Jesus Christ, “perhaps more than in the past,” Pope Francis improvised before the crowd a heartfelt thanks for this priest, whom he had met in 2014 during his trip to Albania.

“He spent 28 years in prison [18 years, Ed.], in the prisons of Communist Albania, perhaps the cruelest persecution. And he continues to bear witness,” said the Pope to applause from the crowd.

In 2016, moved by the journey of this priest who was about to turn 88, Pope Francis created him a cardinal — a rare decision since Ernest Simoni was not a bishop.

Read more at Aleteia 

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