What do the Baltic countries want from Francis?

Pope Francis will visit Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia from September 22 to 25 - the first papal visit to the Baltic countries in 25 years. Different media outlets have very different expectations of the pope.

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Tvnet (LV) /

Pope should be an ambassador of Nato and the EU

Tvnet hopes the pope will inject new vigour into the relations with the Russian minority in the Baltic region:

“In view of the fact that the subject of the Russian-speaking minority is treated like a hot potato in Latvia and Estonia's domestic policy, the pope could function as a messenger of Nato and the EU. He could stress the need for dialogue with fellow believers and members of other religions - as well as with Russian-speakers as such. The West, not without reason, sees such dialogue as the best instrument to prevent Russia from exploiting the division in society and threatening the security of the alliance.”

Eesti Päevaleht (EE) /

Family planning must be on the agenda

The pope speaking out against overpopulation could have a very positive impact, Eesti Päevaleht writes:

“Three years ago, after his visit to the Philippines, the pope asked whether the rest of the world should intervene in matters of family planning in developing countries. There are many reasons to say yes. Leaving aside any ideological questions, it's been convincingly shown that women's health suffers in places where there is no contraception. Secondly, with fewer births, the children have better chances both in terms of health and regarding education. Thirdly, we must consider the relation between the birth rate and climate change. If the birth rate goes up [pushing up global energy consumption], all the measures to limit climate change will be essentially useless.”

Latvijas Avīze (LV) /

Extra public holiday is taking things too far

Latvijas avīze disapproves of all fuss being made over the pope's visit:

“Must a secular state make a financial contribution to the organisation of one of the main events of a religion? Isn't the significance of the visit being exaggerated? From the Catholic point of view it isn't. But behind this there is also a political dimension. The parliament's decision to declare 24 September a public holiday for the whole country is questionable. ... It could just as well declare a public holiday for a major sports event. The claim that the pope's visit is important for people's mind and spirit is not a good argument. Emotions run just as high during the final of a sports competition. And from the point of view of democracy it's arrogant to make such a distinction between these types of event.”

Lietuvos žinios (LT) /

What the grumblers fail to grasp

Lietuvos žinios feels flattered by the pope's visit to little Lithuania:

“Some people will vent their spleen about the traffic restrictions on social networks, for example. But such grumblers don't understand that the pope's visit is both a sign of his particular attention and respect and of his eagerness to help us. That's all the more clear when you consider which countries the pope has not yet visited - for example France.”