09/26/2018, 16.06
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Pope: in the Baltic countries do not forget and cherish the memory of the martyrs

Francis announces a message about the Vatican's agreement with China on the appointment of bishops, "aimed at fostering a more positive collaboration between the Holy See and the Chinese authorities for the good of the Catholic community in China and for the harmony of the whole society ". Looking over the stages of the trip to the Baltic countries, he recalled the prayer "in the rooms where the regime's opponents were detained, tortured and killed. They killed more or less 40 a night. It is moving to see how far human cruelty can come ".

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The trip to the Baltic States ended last night had a particular "ecumenical dimension" because in those countries "the challenge is to strengthen the communion among all Christians, already developed during the harsh period of the persecution ". This was the theme of Pope Francis general audience today, at the end of which he announced the publication of a message on the agreement between the Holy See and China.

"Last Saturday, September 22, a Provisional Agreement was signed in Beijing between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China, on the appointment of Bishops in China. The Agreement is the fruit of a long and pondered path of dialogue, geared to fostering a more positive collaboration between the Holy See and the Chinese Authorities for the good of the Catholic community in China and for the harmony of the entire society.

In this spirit, I decided to address to Chinese Catholics and to the whole universal Church a Message of fraternal encouragement, which will be published today. With this, I hope that a new phase will open in China, which will help to heal the wounds of the past, to re-establish and maintain the full communion of all Chinese Catholics and to assume with renewed commitment the proclamation of the Gospel. Dear brothers and sisters, we have an important task! We are called to accompany our brothers and sisters in China with fervent prayer and fraternal friendship. They know that they are not alone. The whole Church prays with them and for them. I ask Our Lady, Mother of Hope and Help of Christians to bless and protect all Catholics in China, while we invoke from God the gift of prosperity and peace for all the Chinese people".

Previously, recalling the stages of his journey, Francis told the 30 thousand people present in Saint Peter's Square that it took place on the centenary of the independence of these countries. " One hundred years, half of which they lived under the yoke of Occupations, first the Nazi and then the Soviet. They are people that have suffered much and, because of this, the Lord has looked at them with predilection. I’m certain of this".

" My visit happened in a rather changed context from that which St. John Paul II found. My mission was to proclaim anew the joy of the Gospel and the revolution of tenderness, of mercy, because freedom isn’t enough to give meaning and fullness of life, without love, the love that always comes from God. The Gospel, which in the time of trial gives strength and encourages the struggle for liberation, in the time of freedom is light for the daily journey of people, of families, of the society, and salt that gives flavour to ordinary life and preserves it from the corruption of mediocrity and egoisms".

Francis emphasized that in the meeting with the authorities of the three countries he encouraged dialogue between the elderly and the young, "so that contact with the “roots” can continue to fertilize the present and the future. I exhorted to always combine freedom with solidarity and hospitality, according to the traditions of those lands. ". In particular, "  In Latvia with the elderly I stressed the close bond between patience and hope. Those that have gone through harsh trials are the roots of a people, to protect with God’s grace, so that the new shoots can draw from them and flower and bear fruit. The challenge for those growing old is not to harden inside, but to remain open and tender in mind and heart, and this is possible with the “lymph” of the Holy Spirit, in prayer and in listening of the Word".

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