Lithuania "Coming Back Home" to Christian Europe

Cardinal Backis Says Nation Hopes to Bring Along Its Values

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ROME, DEC. 18, 2003 ( The Catholic Church’s strong show of solidarity after the fall of the Berlin Wall has enabled Lithuania to rediscover its European roots, says Cardinal Audrys Jouzas Backis.

The archbishop of Vilnius, capital of the Eastern Europe nation, said that such solidarity helped Lithuania more than any political effort.

«This was the start of the building of a united Christian Europe, and only on this common base shall we succeed in advancing the well-being of our citizens,» the cardinal said during a recent visit to the German headquarters of the charity Aid to the Church in Need. Lithuania is scheduled to join the European Union in May.

«There are many direct attacks against the Church in recent times,» Cardinal Backis said. But «we see them also as a reaction to the European challenge.»

This year, Lithuania celebrated the 750th anniversary of its conversion to Christianity, which dates back to the coronation of Mindaugas, its first and only king, by the Pope.

«At that time we first joined a Christian Europe, becoming members of a Christian family, and now we wish to come back to this family,» Cardinal Backis said. «We are coming back home.»

Although the social shock of Western practical materialism and Eastern Communist ideology create obstacles to traditional moral values, Cardinal Backis has faith in the work of youth groups within the parishes, and in the activities of the Catholic Family centers.

With thousands of signatures, the Catholic groups succeeded in blocking bioethics laws seen as destructive, as well as in vitro-fertilization.

«We do not have nice programs nor beautiful pedagogic literature to offer Europe,» he added. «We wish to communicate with our brothers and to give our human point of view. There are values that have been saved.»

About 80% of Lithuania’s 3.5 million citizens are Catholic.

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