Bishops' Letter at the Seimas Election Approach
Dear faithful and all the Lithuanian citizens of good will,
The present election is taking place at a time when we could be pleased with Lithuania’s far from inconsiderable achievements, and when the prospects of a more secure and better life have opened up. In order that such life would come to every home, one should expect from the parliament of the country continuity and steady work. However, the authority of Seimas in the society is rather low at present, and there have been conscious attempts to undermine it. Home-grown and imported ‘saviours’ of Lithuania do all they can in exploiting people’s disappointment with their elected representatives. It is not easy for a citizen to find his bearings among the continuously changing and ever new parties, unions, and coalitions.
Before each election the Church reaffirms its position: it does not support any one party, coalition or candidate, but she does not think them to be equal, either. The shepherds of the flock emphasise everyone’s civic duty to participate in the elections, as well as reminding it of the principles dictated by the tradition of faith and the common sense, which a Christian citizen has to take into account. The most important among those principles is the imperative to act in accordance with one’s mind and conscience.
We distance ourselves from some politicians’ attempts to create an impression that he or she is especially close to the Church. The fulfilment of Christian obligations by public leaders are not revealed through friendly relations with the clergy. A person’s views and convictions are much more clearly revealed by an exemplary personal life, concern for the common good, and an unambiguous position whenever the laws protecting parents’ rights, unborn life, persons’ dignity, and public morality are discussed.
Maintaining self-respect on personal, national, and state levels is an important task that arises before the highest authorities as the country begins to live according to the European Union agenda. Even baptised Catholics sometimes fail properly to cherish the rights of the faithful, moral values, and the patrimony of the previous generations. Thus it is even less likely that people formed by other traditions or an atheistic environment will be able to understand the spiritual concerns of our nation. Only the politicians deeply rooted in their own soil will resolutely defend that which is treasured by all of us: family, matrimony, our nation, its traditions and culture.
Concern for the aged, the poor, the sick and others who cannot take care of themselves should undoubtedly be in the authorities’ centre of attention. One should beware, however, when this concern turns into political advertisement. Rather than pre-election charity and political candidates’ gifts and promises, one should pay heed to their everyday behaviour: whether they profess solidarity with the deprived through modest and moderate life-style of their own. Let us consider for a moment whether those who waste questionably obtained millions on election propaganda are really striving for the victory of truth and social justice.
Many parties and politicians promise to overcome poverty, unemployment, and social inequity, as well as to introduce order. Therefore it is wise to favour those who prepare thorough, realistic and long-term programmes for overcoming social problems, rather than those who merely shout loudest and propose a panacea for all of the society’s ills. Major problems of the society cannot be resolved in a few months, and cannot be resolved solely through the efforts of the authorities. Therefore politicians’ resolution to collaborate with the Church, local communities, and various associations in sharing social, cultural, and moral concerns is extremely important.
A huge part of the responsibility for the outcome of the elections lies on the shoulders of television and all media. Will it only concern itself with the profit that the lavishly remunerated political propaganda brings in? Will it once again turn politicians’ appearances into entertaining talk-shows and concerts? We would like to believe that the members of the media in various ways – both through serious discussions, and through measured and tasteful humour – will do their best in order to reveal parliamentary candidates’ personalities, their abilities, and moral principles.
We encourage you to remember the last parliamentary term and to reflect whether the so-called independent politicians and the factions consisting of barely a few members of the parliament notorious for their radical proclamations, achieved anything real and worthwhile for your benefit. Parliamentary parties are often justly reproached; nevertheless, only the political groups united by stable and long-term responsibility manage to exercise control over their members and effectively strive for the strategic goals. The decisions that will come into effect as laws are jointly agreed upon between major parliamentary factions, and therefore whenever your vote is scattered on behalf of individual party-less candidates, it does not reach its aim.
Lithuania is too small for one part of it to flourish when another is languishing in poverty; it is too small for the richer inhabitants of the capital to feel secure as a certain group of people is at the same time marginalised. Responsible politicians are those who comprehend the importance attached to the society’s even development. On the other hand, the times of ‘levelling the world’ have long passed. Regard with caution those who promise to defend the farmers, or the teachers and the doctors, who promise to take care of the countryside or of the city, to take away from some and to give to others. Only the common good will yield everybody’s welfare, and therefore one should favour and pay the greatest attention to the matter-of-fact proposals how to increase the funds at the disposal of the whole state, and to use them more rationally. Antagonising society, turning one part of it against another, is one of the most painful lessons that our state had to live through – the lesson that should be learned both by the electorate and the elected.
We encourage you to trust those parties and politicians who carried out the most difficult work in rebuilding the independent Lithuanian state – those who laid its foundations and built its walls. It is true that their work was not always easy and quick, and many things need to be patched up, many mistakes righted, and some places even built anew. But are better worthy of our confidence those politicians who, lured by the rustle of European money, have just joined in at the last moment, shouting, “We will be better than all the previous ones at erecting a completion-wreath atop the finished house”?
We ask all the faithful to pray for Lithuania. Let us pray together that the beautiful days of autumn between the Feast of the Birth of Our Lady and the Feast of Mary the Mother of Mercy at Auðros Vartai may be full of blessing for our state. Let us pray everyday with rosary in our hands for our Homeland so that Christ – the light of the world (Jn 8, 12) – might transform our hearts and bless our life. Let us pray that the decisions taken by us should be wise and pleasing to the Highest who gave man freedom and the duty to take responsible care of this world.
Ðiluva, the Feast of the Birth of Our Lady
The Bishops of Lithuania