Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 21, 2018 / 11:01 am
Ahead of his visit to the Baltic states Sept. 22-25, Pope Francis praised liberty and said his trip would honor those who have sacrificed for the freedom the countries now experience.
In a video message to the people of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia Sept. 20, Francis said freedom, "as we know, is a treasure that must be constantly preserved and handed down, as a precious heritage, to the new generations."
His visit coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Baltic states, which were part of the Russian Empire until 1917 and gained independence in 1918.
They became part of Soviet Union in 1940-1941, endured Nazi domination in 1940-1944, and were returned to the Soviet Union in 1945. In 1991, they regained democratic independence, and have been members of NATO and the EU since 2004.