"My dear priests of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis:
"Advent is a time of penance. To proclaim the need for penance is a priest's important obligation. Make ready the way of the Lord' (Mt 3:3). 'Unless you repent, you will all perish' (Lk 13:3). Even as traditional fasting is disappearing or losing its significance, the obligation to do penance is not. Its old forms are merely being replaced by new ones. And so it is today. As drunkenness is spreading ever more menacingly, like a cancer devouring a living organism, and destroying the morality of God's nation, these times urgently require a new type of penance: temperance, abstinence, restraint from alcohol.
"Today abstinence and temperance must be viewed as very serious penitential virtues. To abide by them, to proclaim them, means to go against the current with a strong will, to break established habits. Yet that is the essence of penance: to reform one's habits, to return order to one's life, to rise above the routine. This is not easy for everyone, but it is necessary and essential. That is why we are asking priests during the upcoming Advent season to invite the faithful — during retreats, from the pulpit, in the confessional, and at every other opportunity — to join in this holy penance of temperance, to themselves go without alcohol in the rectories, and to personally show an example of abstinence so that you, along with the Apostle Paul, can fearlessly tell everyone: 'Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ' (1 Cor 4:17).
November 9, 1979
(signed) Bishop L. Povilionis
Apostolic Administrator of
the Archdiocese of Kaunas and
the Diocese of Vilkaviškis"
To the Priests of the Archdiocese of Vilnius
"In his time the Apostle St. Paul warned the faithful of Corinth and, through them, future generations: 'Do not err; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor the evil-tongued, nor the greedy will possess the Kingdom of God' (1 Cor 6:9).
"We would probably not be wrong by saying that in our society today drunkenness is the mother of nearly all our evils. It is the door to physical and spiritual degeneration. It is the coffin for future generations. Our country, infected by it, is also suffering.
" 'And when he drew near to Jerusalem and saw the city, Jesus wept over it' (Lk 19:41), for He saw how the disobedient nation was marching toward terrible ruin. Can we priests — who are the successors of the Apostles and on behalf of Christ acting as His ambassadors (2 Cor 5:20), called to be the 'salt of the earth' (Mt 5:13) and the 'light of the world' (Mt 5:14) — look on dispassionately and indifferently as our homeland, sinking in a sea of alcohol, is slowly dying and year after year strides towards destruction?
"The Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 'Lumen Gentium', requires priests to show concern for the faithful, to be an example to them, to reveal by their daily actions and concern the greatness and beauty of the priestly and pastoral ministry (see no. 28). The same council's decree 'Presbyterorum Ordinis', states: 'In creating the Church, priests must follow the Lord's example by associating with everyone with the most noble humaneness, not by catering to the people but, as required by doctrine and Christian living, by influencing and teaching them like precious children' (no. 6). 'They are required always to teach God's wisdom and not their own
and ardently encourage conversion and holiness' (no. 4). 'Their (i.e. the priests') ministry especially demands that
they not become like this world' (no. 3).
"The times we live in and St. John the Baptist's call, 'Make ready the way of the Lord, make straight his path' (Mk 1:3), now echoing in the Advent season's reflection not only encourages but actually obliges us priests to join the nation's temperance movement! But it will only be successful when we, conscientiously fulfilling Christ's mission, become ourselves moderate drinkers or even abstainers. Let us begin the nation's temperance with ourselves! Let us personally abstain from alcohol and not offer it to others. Let us wisely and respectfully invite and urge the faithful from the pulpit, in the confessional, at funerals and other occasions, during the Advent and Lenten retreats, to be teetotalers and abstainers.
December 1, 1979
The Chancery of the Archdiocese of Vilnius"