A Lithuanian archbishop who was murdered with a lethal injection after 16 years in prisons and labour camps will become the first Catholic martyr from the country’s communist era to be declared Blessed later this month.
The beatification ceremony for Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis, who died in 1962, is planned for June 25 in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. About 30,000 people were expected to attend.
“Besides being our first Soviet-era martyr recognised by the Universal Church, he’ll also be the first Lithuanian beatified on native soil,” said Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, president of Lithuania’s bishops’ conference.
He told the Catholic News Service that Archbishop Matulionis’s “radical belief” in “seeking the truth at any cost” offered an attractive message, especially for young people, who will take part in a two-day youth festival before the ceremony.
“Given current tensions in our part of the world, his call to remain at peace and follow the divine will, knowing God always gives us the gifts we need, remains highly relevant,” Archbishop Grušas said.
“Witnessing to one’s faith doesn’t necessarily mean going as far as death. There are also lighter forms of persecution happening daily in our societies, which it also requires courage to face,” he said.
Born in 1873 in Kudoriskis, Lithuania, Archbishop Matulionis was ordained in St Petersburg in 1900, and took charge of the city’s St Catherine Church in 1910. Jailed for three years during the 1923 trial of Archbishop Jan Cieplak and other Catholic clergy, he was secretly made a bishop six years later following his release, but then sent without trial to the Solovki prison on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea.
Archbishop Matulionis was allowed to return to Lithuania in a prisoner exchange in 1933. He helped to propagate devotion to the Sacred Heart while serving as a military chaplain.
He was appointed bishop of Kaišiadorys in 1943 but was arrested in 1946 for refusing to collaborate with Lithuania’s Soviet occupiers. He was sent to several prisons, only resuming episcopal functions secretly when freed in 1956.
He was raised to archbishop by John XXIII in 1962. He dies on August 20, 1962 from a lethal injection, believed to be administered by a KGB police nurse followinga brutal beating at his apartment.
Amoris has not changed doctrine, say Polish bishops
Amoris Laetitia has not changed Church doctrine on Holy Communion for divorced and remarried people, the Polish bishops’ conference has said.
Following a plenary meeting, the bishops said that Catholics in non-sacramental relationships should be led to “true repentance and sacramental reconciliation” with their spouse and children born in this union.
Amoris Laetitia must be read in agreement with Church teaching, especially in relation to Pope John Paul II’s exhortation Familiaris Consortio, which reiterated the Church’s ban on divorced and remarried couples receiving Communion.
“Familiaris Consortio and Amoris Laetitia are in the same line, with this linear understanding of these documents,” the bishops said.
Fr Pawel Rytel-Andrianik, spokesman for the bishops’ conference, said the bishops were calling for “a new approach to [the divorced and remarried] to try to include them in the life of the Church, in the light of Amoris Laetitia and in the light of Familiaris Consortio 84.”
Fr Rytel-Andrianik said that Poland’s bishops’ conference was in the final stage of drafting its official guidelines on applying Amoris Laetitia.
Melania ‘was baptised in Slovenia’
A Slovenian cardinal has said that Melania Trump was baptised in her mother’s home town of Raka in Slovenia.
Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect emeritus of the Vatican’s congregation for Religious, spoke to the First Lady at the Vatican last month. During her visit Mrs Trump placed flowers at the feet of a statue of Mary and asked the Pope to bless her rosary beads.
If she had been baptised as a child – during communist rule – the ceremony would have been in secret.