Pope Francis ended his two-day apostolic pastoral visit to the Baltic state of Lithuania by visiting the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights in Vilnius to commemorate three occupations suffered by Lithuania. In this museum housed in a former prison of the KGB he denounced the suffering brought about by the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states 1940; the Nazi occupation from 1941 until 1944, ; and the Soviet Russia occupation till its final collapse in 1990.
This year, Lithuania and the other Baltic nations are marking the centenary of the declaration of their independence in 1918.
As Pope Francis prayed before the walls “that recall the sufferings endured” by so many Lithuanians, he asked the Lord to uphold Lithuania so it may become a “beacon of hope”, a “land of memory and action, constantly committed to fighting all forms of injustice.”
The full prayer of the Pope at the end of his visit to the former KGB Museum
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46)
Your cry, Lord, continues to resound. It echoes within these walls that recall of the sufferings endured by so many sons and daughters of this people. Lithuanians and those from other nations paid in their own flesh the price of the thirst for absolute power on the part of those who sought complete domination.
Your cry, O Lord, is echoed in the cry of the innocent who, in union with you, cry out to heaven. It is the Good Friday of sorrow and bitterness, of abandonment and powerlessness, of cruelty and meaninglessness that this Lithuanian people experienced as a result of the unrestrained ambition that hardens and blinds the heart.
In this place of remembrance, Lord, we pray that your cry may keep us alert. That your cry, Lord, may free us from the spiritual sickness that remains a constant temptation for us as a people: forgetfulness of the experiences and sufferings of those who have gone before us.
In your cry, and in the lives of all who suffered so greatly in the past, may we find the courage to commit ourselves decisively to the present and to the future. May that cry encourage us to not succumb to the fashions of the day, to simplistic slogans, or to efforts to diminish or take away from any person the dignity you have given them.
Lord, may Lithuania be a beacon of hope. May it be a land of memory and action, constantly committed to fighting all forms of injustice. May it promote creative efforts to defend the rights of all persons, especially those most defenceless and vulnerable. And may Lithuania be for all a teacher in the way to reconcile and harmonize diversity.
Lord, grant that we may not be deaf to the plea of all those who cry out to heaven in our own day.