Accessibility links

Breaking News

Pope Warns Estonians Of 'Existential Ennui' As He Ends Baltic Tour

Pope Francis gives a speech during an ecumenical meeting with youth at the Charles Lutheran church in Tallinn on September 25.

As he wrapped up his trip to the Baltics, Pope Francis warned Estonians that a certain "existential ennui" can set in when societies lose their cultural roots and put their faith in technological progress alone.

In his September 25 speech in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, the pope also praised the country’s social and economic transformation since the five decades of Soviet occupation ended.

"One of the most important obligations incumbent on all of us who have social, political, educational, and religious responsibilities has to do precisely with how we can keep building bonds," he said.

On September 24 in neighboring Latvia, Pope Francis urged Latvians to cherish their hard-won freedom and praised what he said was the Christian spirit that allowed their country to endure Soviet and Nazi occupations.

Pope Francis reviews the honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Kadriorg Presidential Palace in Tallinn on September 25.
Pope Francis reviews the honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Kadriorg Presidential Palace in Tallinn on September 25.

Earlier this week in Lithuania, he honored Jews who were executed or sent to extermination camps during the three-year Nazi occupation and the Lithuanians who were deported to the gulag prison camps or were oppressed at home during five decades of Soviet occupation.

Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia were part of the Russian Empire and briefly Soviet Russia before it declared independence 100 years ago.

The three Baltic countries were occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940 and by Germany between 1941 and 1944 during World War II.

Pope Pays Tribute To Latvia's Independence Fighters
please wait

No media source currently available

0:00 0:01:10 0:00

They regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.

According to the Vatican, around 80 percent of the Lithuanian population is Catholic.

Latvia is a primarily Lutheran country, while Estonia is largely nonreligious and has a small Catholic population of around 5,000.

John Paul II in 1993 was the only other pope to visit the three Baltic states.

With reporting by AP
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.