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)

The Latest: Pope acknowledges scandals driving people away

September 25, 2018 - 2:36 am

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis' visit to the Baltics (all times local):

11:35 a.m.

Pope Francis has acknowledged that the sex abuse scandals rocking the Catholic Church are driving people away and said the church must change its ways if it wants to keep future generations.

Francis referred directly to the crisis convulsing his papacy on the fourth and final day of his Baltic pilgrimage, which coincided with the release of a devastating new report into decades of sex abuse and cover-up in Germany.

Francis told a gathering of young people in largely secular Estonia Tuesday that he knew many young people felt the church has nothing to offer them and simply doesn't understand their problems today.

He acknowledged their complaints and said: "We ourselves need to be converted; we have to realize that in order to stand by your side we need to change many situations that, in the end, put you off."

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9:50 a.m.

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.