The Image of uncivilized Lithuania in the correspondence of representatives of the Holy See

Mokslo publikacijos / Scientific publications
Document Type:
Knygos dalis / Part of the book
Anglų kalba / English
The Image of uncivilized Lithuania in the correspondence of representatives of the Holy See
In the Book:
Imagology profiles: the dynamics of national imagery in literature / ed. by Laura Laurušaitė. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2018. P. 186-198
Reikšminiai žodžiai: Įvaizdžiai; Necivilizuota Lietuva; Šventasis Sostas; Korespondencija; Imagologija; Images; Uncivilized Lithuania; Holy See; Correspondences; Imagology.
Korespondencija; Necivilizuota Lietuva; Viešoji nuomonė / Public opinion.
Correspondences; Holy See; Images; Uncivilized Lithuania.
Summary / Abstract:

ENAfter the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1918 there were major changes in the rule of law. New changes were also brought in for the Catholic Church in the country, including the possibility to restore religious life and new prospects for action. One of the most important partners in this field was the Holy See, with which Lithuania established formal relations after the Vatican de jure recognized its independence in 1922, the same year that Pope Pius XI (Achille Ratti) was elected. The Pope was quite familiar with Lithuania and its social, political, and geographical life. In 1918, he served as Apostolic Visitor to Poland and Lithuania, and in 1919 as Nuncio for Poland. He visited Lithuania on a long trip at the beginning of 1920. The documents revealing Lithuania and the Holy See’s diplomatic relations during the independence period of 1918-40 were not available to researchers until 2007. Only on June 30, 2006, did Pope Benedict XVI issue a decree declassifying Pope Pius XI pontificate’s (1922-39) documents housed at the Secret Vatican Archive (Archivio Segreto Vaticano). In 2010, "Lithuania and the Holy See (1922-1938): The Vatican's Secret Archives Documents", being the correspondence exchanged in 1922-38 between the diplomatic corps of the Holy See at the Vatican Apostolic Nunciature in Lithuania and the Holy See, was translated into Lithuanian and published as a separate book. Its editor, Arūnas Streikus, notes that the vast majority of Lithuanian documents of the Pius XI era are held in two collections of the Vatican Secret Archives: the archive of the Vatican Apostolic Nunciature in Lithuania and the archive of the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs (S. Congregazione degli Affari Ecclesiastici Straordinari). The Vatican Apostolic Nunciature in Lithuania with its permanent residency in Kaunas was founded in 1922.Archbishop Antonino Zecchini (1864-1935) was the first diplomat of the Holy See appointed to Lithuania. However, he "could not find a common language with Lithuanian political and ecclesiastical authorities of the time, so very soon he assigned his secretary to attend to Lithuanian affairs, turning his gaze to Latvian and Estonian Catholic matters". After Zecchini moved to Riga, his duties were performed for a while by Luigi Faidutti (1861-1931). The intemuncio Lorenco Scioppa, appointed to Lithuania in 1926, also could not relate to the local secular and spiritual power, and in 1928 was replaced by Nuncio Riccardo Bartoloni. Starting in 1932, nuncio monsignor Antonio Arata resided in Kaunas. The genre of correspondence by the representatives of the Holy See cannot be strictly defined as letters because the authors of those writings, as is the nature of the diplomatic sphere, call them reports, telegrams, and encrypted communications. The correspondence reveals a broad picture of Lithuanian religious life, covering the education system, relations with the secular government, and political, cultural, and spiritual details. The documents, often marked as secret, show that the representatives of the Holy See were sceptical about religious life in Lithuania. They saw the stubbornness of Lithuania’s ruling authoritarian nationalist regime and even the legacy of Russian oppression in its management style. On the other hand, especially during the second decade of the first republic, the documents point to a conflict between the more modem worldview and interpretation of cultural and religious life of young Lithuanian Catholics and the conservative and old-fashioned views of the representatives of the Holy See.This article highlights the reasons why Lithuania’s image, reflected in the diplomatic documents of the Holy See, has more to do with a mental and imaginative component than an attempt to provide an objective verbal form to the politically complicated first years of independence and the people of the time. A hypothesis is made that the representation was affected by preconceived personal sympathies and attitudes. On the other hand, the religious, political, and cultural reality of Lithuania referred to in secret documents raises another hypothesis about the Holy See’s desire to recreate the Other’s identity and modify it according to its own understanding of religious life. Modification and recreation are related to strict control mechanisms and the persistent and methodical pursuit of one’s goals. The collection "Lithuania and the Holy See (1922-1938): The Vatican ’s Secret Archives Documents" provides a fine opportunity, using imagological methodology, to demonstrate the preconceived imaginative Vatican attitudes that led to the formation of the image of uncivilized, pretentious, and provincial Lithuania. [Extract, p. 186-188]

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2022-02-17 14:42:17
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