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Latvia: Bishops’ letter on Papal trip in September. Hope that “visit will not be an emotional experience, but a permanent gift of grace”

The four bishops of Latvia have sent a letter today to the priests and to the “people of God” about Pope Francis’ visit to the country on 24 September. “He is coming to fulfil his mission of strengthening our brothers and sisters in the faith. He will help us, Latvian Christians, to find a path of unity”. 25 years ago, John Paul II pronounced “prophetic words about freedom”, and now it is time for us to “reflect on how we have used the gift of freedom”. His visit, coinciding with the 100thanniversary of Latvia, “is an invitation to remember the spiritual foundations of our country, give thanks to God and ask for His blessing”. “The age in which we live has brought about many positive changes and developments”, but we need to “find ways to respond to the new challenges lying ahead”: the Pope reminds us of “the hope that Christ gives us” and that “we belong to the Christian family around the world”. The bishops hope that the visit will not be “a fleeting emotional experience, but a permanent gift of grace”. There will be a collection on 22 July, and the bishops invited all priests to “celebrate Holy Mass with the Pope in Aglona”. They also suggested a prayer that the faithful may recite “after each Holy Mass”. Finally, they invited everyone to “reflect on the papal teachings”; to become more aware” of the Holy Father’s mission; to promote ecumenical cooperation; and to “bear witness to Christ’s love” by works of charity and by “serving every person in need”.

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