Catholic News Service photo
Pope Benedict poses with Albania's President Bamir Topi and his wife during a private audience at the Vatican May 5.
Catholic News Service photo
Pope Benedict poses with Albania's President Bamir Topi and his wife during a private audience at the Vatican May 5.
Albanian Catholic leaders warn they would excommunicate anyone involved in the traditional blood feud after complaints of worsening violence.

“People kill without hesitation in this bloody, barbaric system of revenge, often justifying their actions from a centuries-old tradition,” said Archbishop Angelo Massafra of Shkoder.

Albania is experiencing an upsurge in murders, as well as of worsening domestic violence, use of force in relations between people and acts of revenge. One incident involved the killing of a 17-year-old girl.

Now every person of the Catholic faith who kills for motives of vendetta will be excommunicated, the archbishop said.  

Catholics traditionally make up 15 percent of Albania’s population of 3.5 million, 70 percent of which is nominally Muslim, although no new figures have been compiled since a 24-year communist-era ban on religious practices was lifted in 1991.