Lithuania discusses pope's Russia remarks with Vatican envoy, won't comment on content

  • 2023-09-19
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Deputy Foreign Minister Jovita Neliupsiene met with the Vatican's envoy to Lithuania in early September to discuss Pope Francis' recent high-profile remarks about Russia, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, but both sides gave no details about the meeting.

"Vice-Minister Jovita Neliupsiene met with the Apostolic Nuncio for a conversation on September 8," Paulina Levickyte, spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, told BNS. 

The Foreign Ministry would not comment on the content of the meeting which was not announced in advance. Levickyte only said that no diplomatic note was handed to the nuncio during the meeting.

Approached by the Nunciature of the Holy See in Lithuania also refrained to comment on the meeting.

The ministry said in late August that it was planning to invite Petar Rajic, the Vatican's envoy to Lithuania, "for a conversation" in response to the pontiff's remarks about Russia and its culture. 

The meeting was originally scheduled for September 6. The ministry said on that day that the meeting had been postponed due to the nuncio's holiday, but it did not announce a new date.

Francis said in a video speech to young Catholics in St. Petersburg, "You are the heirs of the great Russia: the great Russia of saints, of kings, the great Russia of Peter the Great, of Catherine II, of that great, enlightened Russian empire, of great culture and great humanity".  

Kyiv accused the pontiff of spreading "imperial propaganda".

The Vatican's spokesman Matteo Bruni later issued a statement saying that France's "off the cuff" remarks were intended "to encourage young people to preserve and promote what is positive in Russia’s great cultural and spiritual heritage, and certainly not to glorify imperialistic logics and governmental personalities".