President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, right, welcomes Pope Francis as he arrives at the Kadriorg Presidential Palace in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Pope Francis concludes his four-day tour of the Baltics visiting Estonia. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Pope wraps up Baltics trip to boost faith in secular Estonia

September 25, 2018 - 2:46 am

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — Pope Francis is wrapping up his pilgrimage to the Baltics with a stop in Estonia, often considered one of the least religious countries in the world.

Francis met Tuesday with President Kersti Kaljulaid upon arriving in the capital Tallinn. Later, he presides over a youth gathering before celebrating Mass in Tallinn's Freedom Square for a Catholic community that numbers only 6,000 people.

Between a half and two-thirds of Estonia's 1.3 million people profess no religious affiliation, with the Lutheran and Russian Orthodox churches counting the most followers of those who do.

Estonia is the last stop in Francis' four-day visit that took him to Lithuania and Latvia. He is aiming to encourage the Christian faith in the Baltics, which saw five decades of Soviet-imposed religious repression and state-sponsored atheism.

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