KAUNAS – Archbishop Emeritus of Kaunas Sigitas Tamkevicius says Pope Francis' decision to name him a cardinal is a way of honoring, through his person, Lithuanians who were subjected to Soviet repressions.
In his words, the pope's recent attention to Lithuania as well as the appointment of several Lithuanian priests to high positions in Vatican is appreciation for preserved national and Christian values, despite the Soviet occupation.
"A lot of people remained true to national values and their Christian values. I believe as well that the appointment of monsignors to high positions, and the cardinal appointment is a natural outcome of the national loyalty and loyalty to the Church," Tamkevicius said in an interview with BNS Lithuania.
In his words, when Pope Francis visited Lithuania last September and prayed in a former KGB cell, it was his personal touch of Lithuania's history.
"It’s probably not only the appreciation of me alone but also the appreciation of all those honest people who have gone through many things for Lithuania and for the Church," the archbishop said.
Tamkevicius also revealed he was very confused by the news of his appointment, and learned about it during a dinner at his childhood home. He said he would never forget that influx of congratulation messages he received on his way to Kaunas.
Tamkevicius is among 13 people who will officially become cardinals on October 5.
He believes his activity will hardly change once he becomes a cardinal as he has no plans to be involved in Vatican politics.
"The pope probably expects one thing from me and that is to continue witness the faith as a cardinal's primary and most important role is to be a good witness of the faith, not in word but through one's whole life. The way I have managed to do that so far, I will try to continue doing that," he said.