Latvia’s foreign minister: The Church must keep its moral compass


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Pope Francis meets Latvian overseas minister Edgars Rinkēvičs on the Vatican, March 14, 2022. / Vatican Media. Vatican City, Mar 16, 2022 / 12:55 pm (CNA). Latvia’s Overseas Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs believes that as warfare rages in Europe, the Church has a elementary activity: “to keep the moral compass not to let the world lose humanity.”Rinkēvičs, who has led Latvia’s overseas ministry since 2011, was talking during a two-day go to to the Vatican. He met with Pope Francis on March 14 and the Vatican “overseas minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher a day later. His assembly with Pope Francis was notable as a result of the pope often solely receives heads of state and prime ministers, together with ambassadors (once they present their letters of credence.) Holy See protocol does permit for the potential for a papal viewers for overseas ministers, however that is very uncommon and just for particular events.Latvia, nevertheless, had an important day: the centenary of the Baltic nation’s concordat with the Holy See, which was signed on Might 30, 1922. The Holy See was also one of many first nations to acknowledge the newly established Latvian state in 1918. Diplomatic ties have been interrupted in 1940 after the Soviet invasion of Latvia, but restored in 1991. The Holy See, nevertheless, all the time thought-about the break in diplomatic relations short-term because it did not acknowledge the Soviet occupation.Latvia, a rustic of 1.9 million individuals, borders Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and Estonia. It has acquired greater than four,000 refugees since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Rinkēvičs informed CNA that his Vatican go to had been “deliberate for some time” before the warfare broke out.“I do know that a overseas minister’s viewers with the pope isn't normal, however we aren't dwelling in regular occasions,” he commented.“We had a discussion with the Holy Father concerning the humanitarian catastrophe. In consequence, Latvia is receiving refugees from Ukraine, although not as many because the nations bordering Ukraine.”He stated that his talks with Archbishop Gallagher targeted on “cooperation in the worldwide organization, and naturally the present security state of affairs in Europe.”Rinkēvičs, who was born in 1973 and grew up within the Soviet era, agreed that what is occurring in Ukraine has had an “emotional impression.”“After what happened in 2014, with the Russian occupation and the annexation of Crimea, after which the Russian invasion of Ukraine final Feb. 24, the Central European nations started asking themselves if this was a type of repetition of history,” he stated. But he added that “from the rational perspective, there are big variations with what happened 80 years ago.” “We at the moment are members of NATO and, although we're a small nation and not very wealthy, we're additionally trying to find a strategy to help Ukraine,” he stated. “Even some Russians now understand that if we don't stop Russia in Ukraine, the problem is going to grow to be tragic.”Rinkēvičs expressed great appreciation for Pope Francis’ statements on the struggle. He careworn that “the Holy See might be a superb mediator if Russia and Ukraine agree.” But he cautioned that “Russian leaders nonetheless assume they will achieve the objectives they set with drive.” So Russia, in his view, might not “search a diplomatic answer.”The choice over whether the Vatican would act as a mediator “rests to start with with Russia,” he stated.“There can be a time to cease the conflict and to seek out a great way out of it, and perhaps the Holy See at that point shall be a great mediator.”Rinkēvičs described Latvia-Holy See relations as “traditionally good,” pointing to the two papal visits to Latvia because the nation gained independence: by John Paul II in 1993 and Pope Francis in 2018. He stated he discussed the best way to further strengthen relations during his Vatican meetings. A method, he stated, was by means of the state’s help for spiritual buildings. One other was via cooperation by way of international organizations in issues comparable to stability and peace in Europe. Rinkēvičs also mentioned the cooperation over the beatification strategy of Boļeslavs Sloskāns (1893-1981), who suffered persecution by communists in the 1920s.Sloskāns was arrested in 1927 and solely capable of return to Latvia in 1934. Serving as coadjutor bishop of the Latvian capital Riga in World Warfare II, he was arrested by the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s political police pressure, and imprisoned. Launched after the German bishops’ intervention, Sloskāns finally established himself in Belgium, where he stayed till his demise. Rinkēvičs additionally highlighted the significance of an trade of data between the Holy See and Latvia, noting that “we had an excellent cooperation through the Belarusian disaster.”After a controversial presidential election in 2020, Belarus was engulfed by protests and the Catholic leader Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was blocked from returning to the country, prompting a Vatican intervention.Speaking concerning the particularity of Latvia inside the Baltic States, Rinkēvičs stated: “Estonia is especially Protestant, Lithuania is