Greg Burke: Thanks, Holy Father. Stefanie Stahlhofen from the Austrian Radio station CIC
Stefanie Stahlhofen (CIC): Holy Father, at the ecumenical encounter in Tallinn, you said that the young people before the sexual scandals don't see a net condemnation by the Catholic Church. In Germany, precisely today a new investigation came out on the sex abuses and about how the Church treated so many cases.
Pope Francis: About this, I'll speak after [I speak about] the trip. I will respond, but first questions about the trip. This is the rule. But, it will be the first question after the trip.
(Editor's note: Discussion ensues about whether or not there are further questions about the trip. Pope Francis insists that the trip receive more attention.)
Pope Francis: People expect information about this trip. After, other questions.
Greg Burke: A Lithuanian is arriving to ask about the trip. Pugačiauskas from Lithuanian television.
Vykintas Pugačiauskas (Lithuanian Radio Television): I would like to speak in English... In all Baltic countries, you professed openness. Openness towards migrants, openness toward the others, but for example, in Lithuania already there was a discussion about a girl that greeted you at the plane and she did not look exactly Lithuanian. She was partly Italian, a bit more black skinned. So, my question is, do the peoples in the Baltic countries only hear what they want to hear from you rather than what you are trying to tell them? Do they hear your message about the openness?
Pope Francis: The message on openness to migrants is rather advanced in your nation. There are no strongly populist views, no... in Estonia and Lithuania are open people that they have the desire to integrate migrants, but not massively because they cannot. To integrate them with prudence of the government. We have spoken with two of the three heads of state on this and they made this argument, not me. And, in the presidents' speeches you will see that the word welcome, openness is frequent... This shows a desire for universality in the measure that they can take... the measure that they are integrated, this is very important, and the measure that is not a threat against their own identity. There are three things that I understood about the migration of the people, and this has touched me a lot: prudent and well-thought openness. I do not know if you were thinking of another thing.
Pugačiauskas: My question is about the reception of your message.
Pope Francis: I think so. In this gift that I say, because today the problem of migrants in all the world, and not only the external migration, but also internal in the continents is a grave problem. It is not easy to study it. In every place, it has different connotations.
Greg Burke: Holy Father, the questions about the trip are finished...
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Pope Francis: I would like to tell you some things on some points of the trip that I have experienced with a special strength. The fact of your history, the history of the Baltic countries. It is a story of invasion, of dictatorships, of crimes, of deportations. When I visited the Museum in Vilnius -- "museum" is a word that makes you think of the Louvre, that museum was a prison, it was the prison where political or religious detainees were taken. I saw the cells, the size of this seat, where they could only stay standing, cells of torture. I saw places of torture where with the cold that they have in Lithuania they took naked prisoners and hit them with water and left them there for hours, for hours... to break their endurance. And then I was in the hall, a great room of the executions and they took the prisoners there by force and [killed them] simply with a blow to the nape of the neck, then they brought out [the bodies] with a mechanical stair toward a truck that threw them in the forest, in a spot... they killed around 40 a day. At the end there were around 15 thousand of them they killed there. This makes up a part of the history of Lithuania and also of the other countries, but that which I saw was in Lithuania.
Then I went to the place of the large ghetto, where they killed thousands of Jews, then in the same afternoon I went to the monument to the Memory of the convicted, killed, tortured, deported. That day, I tell you the truth, I was destroyed. It made me think of the cruelty. But I tell you, with information that we have today, cruelty isn't over. The same cruelty is found today in many detention centers. Today, it is found in many prisons. Even overpopulation of a prison is a form of torture, to not live with dignity. A prison today that has a system which does not give the detained the hope of leaving is already a torture. Then we saw on the television the cruelties of the ISIS terrorists, that burned alive that pilot from Jordan, slit the throats of those Coptic Christians on the beaches of Libya, and many others. Today, cruelty is not finished. In all the world it is happening. And this message I would like to give to you, as journalists. This is a scandal, a grave scandal of our culture, of our society.
Another thing that I saw in these three countries is the hate of religion, whatever it is. The hate. I saw a Jesuit bishop in Lithuania or Latvia, I do not remember well, that was deported to Siberia for ten years, then arrived to the concentration camp, by then he was old... so many men and women defending their identity were tortured, deported to Siberia, they did not return, they were killed. The faith of these three countries is great. It is a faith that is born from martyrdom and this is a thing that maybe you have seen, speaking with the people, as you journalists do to have news of the country.
Then, this experience of faith, so important, made a unique phenomenon in these countries: an ecumenical life as there is not in other countries generally. It is a true ecumenism, ecumenism between Lutherans, Baptists, Anglicans, even Orthodox. In the cathedral yesterday in the ecumenical service in Latvia, in Riga, we saw it. So great, brothers, very very near, only one Church, close... the ecumenism has its own roots.
Then there is another phenomenon in these countries and it is important to study it: maybe you can make many good things in your jobs studying this: the phenomenon of the transmission of the culture, of identity, and of faith. Usually, the faith was transmitted by the grandparents, why? Because the dads were working, the dads and moms had to work and they had to be radicalized in the party, in the case of the Soviets, or under the line of the Nazism and even atheist educated. But the grandparents knew to transmit the faith and the culture in a time that in Lithuania it was forbidden to use the Lithuanian language and it was removed from the schools, when they went to a religious service, either protestant or Catholic, they took there the prayer books to see if they were in the Lithuanian language or in Russian language or German. So many, a generation, in that period learned the mother tongue from their grandparents, the grandparents that taught them to write or to read the mother tongue. This makes us think: it would be beautiful some articles, some television services on the transmission of the culture, of the language, of the art, of the faith, in moments of dictatorship, of persecution. They could not think themselves as other because all the means of communication in that time were few, the radio, it was grabbed hold of by the state.
When a government becomes or wants to become dictatorial, the first thing that it does is take control of the means of communication. I want to underline this.