“The meeting went very well. The church was full of young people, they were all very happy to welcome the Pope. There weren’t only Catholics, also youths from other Churches and maybe also young non-believers were present”, the Lutheran Archbishop of Tallin Urmas Viilma, shared his impressions with SIR a few minutes after the end of the meeting in Saint Carl’s Lutheran church. Approximately 1.500 youths present inside the church welcomed the Pope with a warm, extended applause. Also leaders of other Churches and religious organizations in Estonia attended the meeting. Before the event with young people, on behalf of the Lutheran Church the archbishop gave a small apple tree to the Pope: “It’s one of 500 apple trees that we planted with Catholics, when we commemorated the Reformation last year.”
How was the meeting?
It was beautiful, there was a lot of singing and three beautiful testimonies of youths on their way of living out the faith and the Church. I had the possibility of addressing my welcoming remarks to the Pope, also voicing criticism of our Estonian society:
We have been free from Soviet occupation for the past 27 years, yet probably ours is the only Country in Europe with no religious education in primary school.
This means that the young generations grow up without knowing how to develop their faith.
What impressed you about Pope Francis’ words to young people?
I was impressed by his remarks to religious organizations and Churches, when the Pope said that we adults are always in a teaching attitude and we always talk when we are interacting with young people, but we never listen. Instead we need to listen to what young people tell us. What the Pope said is extremely important.
What did you and the Pope say in your farewell?
When I bid him farewell in front of the church, while he was entering the car for his departure, I told him that I hope that one day we will all meet in communion as a single Church. He replied that we deeply hope it will happen, and that we must always pray for this.
Which ecumenical fruits are expected to be reaped from the Pope’s visit?
It should be said that ecumenical dialogue in our Country bodes very well. As Christian leaders we meet every month, we know each other in person, we attend our mutual religious celebrations and we pray together, we read the Holy Scripture and we do so on a regular basis.
Only a third of the overall population of Estonia is Christian, we need to cooperate and speak with a single voice, as we have been doing for years.
It’s a positive example that perhaps should be followed by other Countries. Ours is a veritable, active form of cooperation.
Are there other things, in addition to the sharing of the Eucharist, that you feel are missing in the path towards unity?
We are already united in Baptism. As Catholics and Lutherans we share the understanding of Baptism. What else are we missing? There is nothing we miss as much as being together in Eucharistic communion: it’s the most important place to live our unity, unity with Christ’s flesh and blood.
Will you attend today’s Mass with the Pope?
Of course I will. There will be the Eucharist, but it will be given only to Catholics, which we fully understand.