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2019.09.02 09:19

Pope Francis names former archbishop of Kaunas among 13 new cardinals

BNS2019.09.02 09:19

Pope Francis announced his decision on Sunday to name Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas Sigitas Tamkevičius a cardinal.

He will be one of 13 new cardinals who will be officially appointed on October 5.

Tamkevičius will not be able to elect a new pope due to his age as only cardinals under 80 elect a new pontific. Tamkevičius will turn 81 in November.

Tamkevičius was a dissident during the Soviet occupation and used to publish The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania which wrote about the persecution of believers in Lithuania occupied by the Soviets.

He was arrested in 1983 for anti-Soviet propaganda and spent 10 years in the prison work camps of Perm and Mordovia.

He served as archbishop of Kaunas between 1996 and 2015.

During the pope's visit to Lithuania last year, Tamkevičius accompanied Pope Francis to a former KGB prison in Vilnius where he was a prisoner in 1983.

The pope announced that Tamkevičius was appointed a cardinal for his honorary service to the Church.

Tribute to history

Lithuania's Ambassador to the Vatican Petras Zapolskas says that by this appointment the pope paid tribute to Lithuania's history.

“It's both the recognition of personal merits and also a tribute to Lithuania's history,” the ambassador told BNS Lithuania on Sunday.

Zapolskas noted that, during his last year's visit to Vilnius and Kaunas, the pope paid a lot of attention to Lithuania's dramatic history.

“Archbishop Tamkevičius is probably the best reflection of that Lithuania's history among Lithuania's clergy,” the ambassador said.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has congratulated Tamkevičius by noting his efforts fighting for the freedom of expression and of conscience.

“After editing the underground Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania for 11 years, he became an example of unbreakable spirit and determination and fight for the freedom of speech and belief,” the statement issued by the president's press service said.