Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 22, 2018 / 13:54 pm
During his first speech in the Baltics Saturday, Pope Francis told Lithuanian authorities to take pride in their country's history of welcoming people of different faiths and ethnicities.
"All found a place to live in this land," the pope said Sept. 22. "Lithuanians, Tartars, Poles, Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Armenians, Germans … Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, Old Catholics, Muslims, Jews – lived together in peace until the arrival of totalitarian ideologies that, by sowing violence and lack of trust, undermined its ability to accept and harmonize differences."
He encouraged Lithuanians to draw strength from their past by recovering their roots of welcoming and keeping alive "all that continues to be most authentic and distinctive about you, everything that enabled you to grow and not succumb as a nation: tolerance, hospitality, respect and solidarity."
Pope Francis was in Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania, for the start of his four-day trip to the Baltic States. His visit falls during the 100th anniversary of the states' declaration of independence. They had been previously part of the Russian Empire.