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siberia-prigionieriA special guest honoured, this morning, the meeting of spokespersons and media officers in Vilnius, Lithuania, with his presence, the president of the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference (Lbc), mons. Sigitas Tamkievièius. He came to share experience of his 10-year stay in a communist soviet labour camp in Sibiria and talk about challenges faced by the Catholic church in modern Lithuanian society. He compared his punishment by the communist regime to a difficult role of the bishop in contemporary times, saying that there are many things in common – such as bearing the cross of difficulties and obstacles, and he emphasized "importance of feeling closeness of God", both in prison long time ago, as well as during his episcopal service he´s been administering for the last 20 years.

Regarding the challenges for the Catholic church in the country he mentioned a general trend in society – reducing religion to a private matter of each person: "People tend to dislike requirements made by priests and bishops especially those concerning moral aspects", e.g. in the area of bioethical questions like treatment of embryos or in vitro fertilisation, which is very delicate and actual topic, as the Lithuanian parliament is going to vote for a new law regarding this matter next week. Mons. Tamkievièius also spoke about Lithuania as a member of European Union. He stated that due to open borders the country has lost many young inhabitants who move to western countries for work, but he also sees the membership as a challenge for the nation "to find a way to perserve its Christian identity in society".

© www.agensir.it - 20 giugno 2011