Despite lockdown in Lithuania, churches to reopen for mass

Catholic churches in Lithuania will hold live services starting next week, the Bishops’ Conference announced on Tuesday.

“Yes, we have made such a decision, since people have been asking and demanding it. I think people need spirituality, they are starving for it,” the archbishop of Šiauliai Eugenijus Bartulis told.

Lithuania is currently under a coronavirus lockdown, with non-essential services, shops as well as all public events suspended.

The Bishop’s Conference, the leadership of Lithuania’s Catholic Church, announced in mid-December that churches were also suspending live services in order to avoid the risk of infection.

However, according to Bartulis, live services do not pose any danger, as few people usually attend them and churches will maintain safety measures.

“I don’t see any threat, because they stay in a church a short while, distances are big. If it’s a rural church, three or four people show up,” Bartulis told.

While the Lithuanian government imposed mandatory restrictions on a number of activities in the country, it only recommended that houses of worship suspend services or hold them online.

“We appreciate that the Lithuanian church leadership switched to remote services during the holidays, a time very important for believers,” Rasa Jakilaitienė, the spokeswoman for Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said. “We hope that after public services are resumed, people will be considerate of their own and others’ health and observe all safety measures.”

While the church is legally within its right to resume live services, it might not be a responsible decision in view of the pandemic, says Vytautas Mizaras, a law professor at Vilnius University.

“One may reasonably question whether such actions and their possible results have been well considered and responsible. I personally have doubts whether this decision is justified in the current situation,” Mizaras told.


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