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 April 11–17: Polemics on Monumentalizing Pope John Paul II in Vilnius

Cardinal Audrys Bačkis criticised the idea of Vilnius City Mayor Artűras Zuokas to monumentalize the memory on Pope John Paul in dedicating him the new church in the centre of Vilnius. Mayor Zuokas proposed to build the church in the centre of Vilnius, designed by the architect Antoni Wiwulski (Vivulskis, 1877-1919). The construction of the church was stopped after Soviet occupation.

Cardinal Bačkis said, a new majestic church building would be contrary to the message of Pope John Paul II. The Pope had been rather concerned with pastoral work, not with majesty of the church”, said Cardinal Bačkis. Not few churches are available in the centre of Vilnius, sufficient for pastoral needs, explained the Cardinal.

Instead, Cardinal Bačkis supported the idea to build a hospice for end-of-life paliative care in Vilnius. The care for terminally ill elderly persons would foster “the culture of life”. A hospice would appropriately carry the name of John Paul II, said Cardinal Bačkis.

In April 11 interview with news agency ELTA Cardinal Bačkis also criticised omissive attitude of the Municipality of Vilnius, failing to arrange properly the public square in Vilnius, dedicated to Pope John Paul II after his visit in 1993.

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