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Pope Francis receives in audience the Speaker of the Seimas in the Vatican

Press release, 13 November 2023 


On 13 November 2023, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis. During the meeting, the Pontiff and the Speaker discussed the relations between the Holy See and Lithuania as well as the role of the Catholic Church in assisting war refugees from Ukraine.


According to the Speaker of the Seimas, Lithuania and the Holy See share special relations.


‘The fact that the Holy See had never recognised the Soviet occupation of our nation was one of the most important illustrations of its support for Lithuania, which was instrumental in bringing this oppressive regime to an end. Our people saw the Papal visit to Vilnius in 2018 as an exceptional expression of support to Lithuania that was marking the centenary of the restoration of the State that year. Last year, we celebrated the cententary of the Holy See’s de jure recognition of Lithuania. It was an important occasion, which enhanced the relations between our nation and the Catholic Church,’ said Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen.

Photos by Vatican Media, Vatican News


In the view of the Speaker of the Seimas, the Catholic Church has long been a pillar of the inner strength for the Lithuanian people, which helped them preserve the Lithuanian identity, hope and faith that light and the good will eventually prevail. This year’s 700th anniversary of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, has also served to highlight the close relationship with Catholicism.


‘The geographical position of Vilnius, the easternmost bastion of Latin Christianity, and of Lithuania, implies that the country was in close contact with Orthodox Christianity. This gave rise to a number of phenomena, one of which is related to the union of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches promoted zealously by St Josaphat, the Lithuanian archbishop and the first Saint of the Uniate Church,’ said Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen.


‘The Pope’s words are instrumental in stopping the war and ceasing the aggression. During the meeting, I also said that Lithuania appreciated the consideration of the Holy See, its prayers for the suffering Ukrainian nation and the assistance for the war refugees from Ukraine. Recently, the Pope has made a donation of 100 000 euros to the charity organisation Caritas Lithuania for the needs of the refugees. Lithuania calls on the international community and people of goodwill to support President Zelenskyy’s peace plan. If Ukraine does not win, the war may arrive on Lithuania’s doorstep one day,’ said Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen.


During her visit, the Speaker of the Seimas, had a meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State. Later, she is scheduled to have a meeting with Riccardo Paternò di Montecupo, Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta, and a visit to the Papal Gregorian University. Furthermore, Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen is going to visit the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore) and the Chapel of the Lithuanian St Casimir College in the Monumental Cemetery of Verano.


Ilona Petrovė, Spokesperson for Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, tel. +370 5 239 6030, mob. +370 698 42071, e-mail: [email protected]

   Last updated on 11/14/2023 15:56
   Monika Kutkaitytė