Over the course of nine centuries in Lithuania, the Catholic Church transitioned from military threat, to foreign occupier, to key component of national identity. This article will take an historical look at the Catholic Church in Lithuania and the process by which Catholic faith became culturally and politically embedded in Lithuanian national identity. An examination of the interplay between the Catholic Church and the Lithuanian nation demonstrates that the Church was instrumental in the formation and growth of national identity, which reached its climax in the close identification of Catholicism with nationalism in the anti-Soviet dissent movements of the 1980s and 1990s.
Paul Valliere‘Introduction to the Modern Orthodox Tradition,’ in The Teachings of Modern Orthodox Christianity on Law Politics and Human Natureed. John Witte Jr. and Frank S. Alexander (New York 2007) p. 11.
Catherine Wanner and Mark D. Steinberg‘Introduction: Reclaiming the Sacred after Communism,’ in Religion Morality and Community in Post-Soviet Societiesed. Mark D. Steinberg and Catherine Wanner (Bloomington in 2008) p. 2.
Alfred Erich Senn‘The Sovietization of the Baltic States,’Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science317 The Satellites in Eastern Europe (1985) 123–129 there 125. Of the twelve bishops serving in Lithuania during the period of inter-war independence three died during the War four emigrated overseas and four were arrested by the Soviet regime.
Hank Johnston‘Religio-Nationalist Subcultures under the Communists: Comparisons from the Baltics, Transcaucasia and Ukraine,’Sociology of Religion54 no. 3 International Studies in the Sociology of Religion (1993) 237–255 there 241.
Philip Walters‘A Survey of Soviet Religious Policy,’ in Religious Policy in the Soviet Unioned. Sabrina Petra Ramet (New York 1993) pp. 20–22. A report by the Central Committee in July 1954 indicated rising church attendance.
Aleksandras Shtromas‘The Baltic States as Soviet Republics: Tensions and Contradictions,’ in The Baltic States: The National Self-Determination of Estonia Latvia and Lithuaniaed. Graham Smith (New York 1996) p. 105.