It's our country and it's our cathedral : Sajūdis and the Lithuanian Catholic Church.
Access changed 10/6/16.
Lietuvos Persitvarkymo Sąjūdis, ‘Lithuanian Movement for Perestroika’, was the popular nationalist movement that led Lithuania toward independence from the Soviet Union on 11 March 1990. In order to gain the Lithuanian people’s support, Sajūdis capitalized on the historically close bond between Catholicism and national identity. This dissertation will examine the relationship between Sajūdis and the Lithuanian Catholic Church (LCC), which will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of Lithuanian history and the importance of religious nationalism for Lithuania’s popular independence movement.
This dissertation argues that the relationship between Sajūdis and the Lithuanian Catholic Church was essential, intentional, and mutually beneficial. Sajūdis’ relationship with the LCC was essential for the movement’s success. Although there were several cultural and historical aspects of Lithuanian national identity that might have served as foundations for the independence movement, the Catholic Church was deeply connected to Lithuanian nationalism and had greater mass appeal and trust than any other source of national identity. Moreover, as a sacred institution, the LCC had the ability to legitimate Sajūdis and motivate Lithuanians to support the independence movement.
Both Sajūdis and the LCC intentionally forged their relationship by courting the other’s support and involvement. Sajūdis courted the LCC’s support by recruiting priests and giving them prominent roles at rallies and other events, and by incorporating into its political agenda the LCC’s concerns, including religious freedom and property. The LCC demonstrated its support for Sajūdis through participation in the movement’s events and promotion of its political ideals. Sajūdis and the LCC built their relationship because it was mutually beneficial; both Sajūdis and the LCC stood to gain socially and materially in ways that would not have been available to them without the relationship. Sajūdis benefited from the relationship when it gained a share of the LCC’s high level of public trust and when Sajūdis-supported candidates won elections. The LCC benefitted when its properties were returned, religious freedom was restored, and the Church was able to reestablish its role in society through media, education, and charitable work.