By Devin Watkins
“In Estonia, [Pope Francis] will meet with one of the smallest Catholic communities he has ever met with, and in one of the least religious countries of Europe.”
Bishop Philippe Jourdan, Apostolic Administrator of Estonia and titular bishop of Pertusa, made the comment in an interview with Devin Watkins about the Holy Father’s upcoming Apostolic Journey.
Pope Francis will visit Estonia on Tuesday, following his journeys to Lithuania and Latvia.
Bishop Jourdan said the numeric smallness of the Catholic community in Estonia means that it must live a particularly missionary Christianity.
He said it is a little like “what the Pope means when he says that the Church cannot just wait for the people and stay in its buildings but has to go out” to meet them.
Pope Francis is living this out, Bishop Jourdan said, simply by travelling to Estonia, which he said “is a country where there are few Catholics.”
Ecumenical side to Pope’s visit
The Pope will hold an ecumenical meeting with young people on Tuesday in Tallinn inside a Lutheran Church.
“All the non-Catholics and even the non-religious people, who are the majority here, are expecting [the Pope’s arrival] with great hope and joy,” Bishop Jourdan said.
He pointed out that this was the goal when the motto for the Pope’s visit was chosen: “Wake Up, My Heart”. These, he said, are the first words of a well-known song in Estonia.
25 years since JPII’s visit
Bishop Jourdan noted how the situation in Estonia has changed during the 25 years since Pope St. John Paul II visited in 1993.
“Now, I would say that the country is much stronger and more stable than it was 25 years ago, but there is also a lot of materialism, a lot of secularization, and a certain skepticism towards the future,” he said.
Estonians, Bishop Jourdan said, are hoping Pope Francis’ presence will “help our heart wake up again.”