A few days after our return to France, back in our little village of Taizé, I want to express our deep gratitude for the days spent in Riga. From the bottom of my heart, I thank all those who allowed the European meeting to be so beautiful, full of joy and hope: the various local Churches, bishops, pastors and priests, the civil authorities of the city and of the country, those in charge of the transport company, the police department, the medical teams or the schools.
The hospitality offered in the host families was one of the strongest points of the meeting; many people told us before leaving how touched they were by the warmth of your welcome. The way thousands of people opened their doors to young people they did not know, in a time when people are often afraid of strangers, is a very strong sign of hope and friendship.
Those who participated in this welcome differ from each other on many points. In one way or another the believers of all the churches were involved – Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox, Baptists, Pentecostals, other denominations... Some people, in spite of their very simple living conditions, dared to welcome young people. From a linguistic point of view, the European meeting also mobilized people of different origins. To all, I would like to reiterate our gratitude.
I wish to repeat here what I said to the young people on the evening of December 30: “I would like to say a big thank you to all those who welcomed us to Riga (…) and I would particularly like to thank those who, without sharing the Christian faith, also welcomed them. You Latvians, you opened your houses and your hearts to young people you did not know. Among the gifts of your people, there is that of hospitality.”
The experience of common prayer in the seven churches of the Old City, in the Arena Riga and Kipsala Exhibition Centre, will continue to sustain us for a long time. Like pilgrims, we are on our way towards a more personal communion with God, towards a deeper fraternity with each other, especially between separated Christians, and towards a new solidarity with the most deprived. May we all continue this search where we live!
We will be happy to see some of you again in Taizé in the coming months and remain united in deep fraternal communion.
A prayer of thanksgiving will be held on Saturday January 14, at 4 pm, at the St Peter Lutheran Church. You are all warmly invited.