Lithuanian archbishop, murdered by Soviet police, beatified in Vilnius
Friday, Jul. 07, 2017
VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) — A Catholic archbishop who was murdered by Soviet police to prevent him attending the Second Vatican Council became the first communist-era martyr beatified in Lithuania.
“Long, hard years of prison, labor camp and house arrest may have gradually impoverished this strong, courageous witness of the Gospel, but persecution and torture never broke his will,” Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said at the June 25 beatification mass for Archbishop Teofil Matulionis. Beatification is a step toward sainthood.
“We could ask why a man who spent so many years of life in prisons and labor camps and wore prison clothes until retirement never felt hostility for his enemy. The answer lies in God’s grace, which ennobles the soul, enabling it to see God’s goodness and providence in others, where some see only hatred and evil,” he said at the Mass in Cathedral Square.
The cardinal said Blessed Matulionis, who was murdered in his apartment with a lethal injection in 1962 after 16 years of Soviet incarceration, had remained a “humble, generous, gentle and loyal man,” despite “relentless dictatorship.” He said one Soviet official had predicted the archbishop would be proclaimed a saint and attract pilgrims to his graveside.