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Pope Francis kicks off a Baltic tour in Catholic Lithuania on Saturday where he will honour victims of the region’s Nazi and Soviet occupations as the Church reels from fresh clerical abuse scandals.

The four-day trip to the northeastern edge of the European Union and NATO alliance brings him geographically close to Russia, where Vatican diplomats have been trying for years to arrange a papal visit.

The pontiff will also visit mainly Protestant Latvia on Monday and secular Estonia on Tuesday as all three Baltic states mark 100 years of independence this year.

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