Pope Exhorts Lithuanians to Shun a Hedonistic Lifestyle

Receives Vilnius’ New Ambassador to the Holy See

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Fourteen years after proclaiming its independence from the Soviet Union, Lithuania was encouraged by John Paul II not to be content with a secular hedonistic model of life.

The Pope referred to the current “cultural and social debate” on the country’s Christian roots when he received the letters of credence today of Vilnius’ new ambassador to the Holy See, Algirdas Saudargas.

The ambassador, a scientist and mathematics professor, played an important role in Lithuania’s independence and democratic transition. Three-quarters of Lithuania’s 3.6 million inhabitants are Catholic.

In his address, the Holy Father expressed the hope that “the representatives of Lithuanian citizens, continuing to draw upon the noble legacy of human and Gospel ideals that mark Lithuania’s history, will commit themselves with a sincere spirit to building a free society on solid ethical and moral foundations.”

In particular, John Paul II exhorted Catholics “to collaborate with all persons of good will to see that Lithuanian society avoids being strongly influenced by the secular hedonistic model of life with its fallacious seductions.”

Aware that they cannot be content with combating the consequences of the evil, believers must be prepared to “walk side by side with all those who, through opportune legislation and balanced styles of conduct, promote the defense of the family and of life, from its conception to its natural end,” said the Pope.

He expressed his satisfaction over Lithuania’s membership in the European Union since May 1, and added: “May the continent know how to find the ways and means to build peace and prosperity in a climate of fruitful collaboration, respecting cultures and the legitimate rights of everyone and pursuing the objective good of the person and of all of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals.”

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