Solvita Āboltiņa meets with Pope Francis in the Vatican

(19.12.2013.)

On Wednesday, 18 December, Solvita Āboltiņa, Speaker of the Saeima, had an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis.

At the beginning of the audience, the Speaker conveyed to the Pope Christmas greetings on behalf of the Latvian people. She affirmed that the celebration of the birth of Jesus is one of the most important days in the Christian calendar, when one looks inside one’s soul to find peace, fulfilment and strength for the coming year.

The relations between Latvia and the Holy See have traditionally been very good and based on mutual respect and understanding, Āboltiņa said to Pope Francis; she also stressed that Latvia greatly appreciates the fact that the Vatican has never recognised the unlawful incorporation of Latvia into the Soviet Union.

During the papal audience, the Speaker emphasised that the recent global financial and economic crisis not only heavily affected countries around the world but also scarred people’s souls. This is why economic recovery is impossible without society’s moral and spiritual rebirth, assumption of responsibility and the ability to think in the long-term.

Āboltiņa noted that the political leaders of our country greatly appreciate the role of the church in consolidating society and facilitating moral renewal. “We are proud of the successful cooperation between the state and the church that has developed in Latvia,” added the Speaker.

Solvita Āboltiņa expressed gratification that Latvia has a well-developed ecumenical tradition and that religious communities coexist in harmony and cooperate successfully. “The fact that in Latvia Christian denominations unite for ecumenical services on occasions that are significant for the state attests to the maturity of the communities of believers and can set an example for Europe and the world”, stressed the Speaker of the Saeima.

Speaker Āboltiņa said that 20 years have passed since Pope John Paul II visited Latvia, but believers still remember the event vividly. The Speaker invited His Holiness Pope Francis to visit Latvia because a new generation of Latvians has grown up since the previous papal visit.

At the end of the audience, Āboltiņa presented Pope Francis with a photograph of Boļeslavs Sloskāns, a Latvian Roman Catholic bishop who endured terrible suffering and brutal torture in Soviet prisons and exile. He is the first Latvian whose canonisation has begun in the Vatican.

During her visit to the Holy See, the Speaker of the Saeima gave an interview to the Latvian service of Vatican Radio.

Solvita Āboltiņa is the first Speaker of the Saeima who has met with the administration of the Vatican.

 


Saeima Press Service

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