Krikščionių piligrimystėPiligrimystė Lietuvoje
Į pirmą puslapį
Jonas Paulius II ir Lietuva
Jono Pauliaus II piligrimų kelias
Do not be afraid, my friends, to open the door to Christ! He knows the human heart…
John Paul II, Lithuania

Attention to Lithuania

From the very start of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II expressed solidarity with the “silent Church” in those lands where the faith was persecuted or hindered. Already during his inauguration solemnities he offered words of greeting in Lithuanian. Later he would greet Lithuanians in their native tongue on numerous occasions. Particularly significant were two commemorative events in Rome: one in 1984 for the fifth centenary of St. Casimir’s death, and one in 1987 to mark the 600-year jubilee of Lithuania’s Christianization. These events reminded the world about Soviet-occupied Lithuania and its persecuted believers. During the 1987 jubilee, John Paul II beatified Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis (1871–1927). Then in 1988, as the communist system neared collapse, the Holy Father showed Lithuania yet another sign of esteem and support by raising Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius (1920–2000) to the dignity of Cardinal.

On December 24, 1999, the pope established two ecclesiastical provinces in the territory of Lithuania – the archdioceses of Vilnius and Kaunas with their suffragan dioceses. Simultaneously, the dioceses of neighbouring Poland and Belarus were reorganized. It seems symbolic that it was a Pope of Polish origin who confirmed the correspondence of the borders of the Vilnius archdiocese with those of the Lithuanian state.

During the Jubilee Year in 2000, Lithuanians earned a privilege that not all nations shared, namely the celebration of Lithuanian jubilee days in Rome. Finally, on January 21, 2001, Pope John Paul II included Vilnius Archbishop Audrys Juozas Bačkis on a list of newly appointed Cardinals.