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Audrys Bačkis

His Eminence

Audrys Bačkis
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Vilnius
Vilniaus arkivyskupas metropolitas Audrys Juozas Bačkis.jpg
Cardinal Bačkis
Appointed24 December 1991
Term ended5 April 2013
PredecessorJulijonas Steponavicius
SuccessorGintaras Grušas
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Natività di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo a Via Gallia
Ordination18 March 1961
by Luigi Traglia
Consecration4 October 1988
by Pope John Paul II
Created cardinal21 February 2001
Personal details
Birth nameAudrys Juozas Bačkis
Born (1937-02-01) 1 February 1937 (age 83)
Kaunas, Lithuania
Nationality Lithuania
  Vatican City
DenominationRoman Catholic
ParentsStasys Antanas Bačkis
Previous post
  • Titular Archbishop of Meta (1988–1991)
  • Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Netherlands (1988–1991)
Mottosub tuum praesidium
Coat of armsAudrys Bačkis's coat of arms
Styles of
Audrys Juozas Bačkis
Coat of arms of Audrys Juozas Backis.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeVilnius (emeritus)

Audrys Juozas Bačkis[pronunciation?] (born 1 February 1937) is a Lithuanian prelate of the Catholic Church, a Cardinal since 2001. He worked in the diplomatic service of the Holy See from 1964 to 1991, when he became Archbishop of Vilnius. He retired in 2013.

Early life

Bačkis was born in Kaunas to the family of Stasys Antanas Bačkis, a Lithuanian diplomat. In 1938 Bačkis' father was assigned to Paris where the family stayed after the Soviet occupation in June 1940. He completed his secondary education at the Institute Saint-Marie-de-Monceau, and studied philosophy at the Seminary of Saint-Sulpice in Issy-les-Moulineaux.

Bačkis studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and Pontifical Lateran University, there Bačkis obtained his doctorate in canon law. Bačkis was ordained to the priesthood by Luigi Traglia on 18 March 1961, in Rome. He then did pastoral work among Lithuanian Americans in the United States, and finished his studies in Rome in 1964.


In 1964 he entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See, serving as secretary of the nunciature to the Philippines (1964–1965), to Costa Rica (1965–1967), to Turkey (1967–1970), and to Nigeria (1970–1973). Bačkis was raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain of His Holiness on 26 June 1965, and was called to the Council of Public Affairs of the Church in the Secretariat of State in 1973. He was the Vatican's delegate to the United Nations Conference in Vienna in 1975, and became Vice-Secretary of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church in 1979.

On 5 August 1988, Bačkis was appointed Pro-Nuncio to the Netherlands and Titular Archbishop of Meta by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 4 October from Pope John Paul himself, with Cardinal Achille Silvestrini and Bishop Juozas Preikšas serving as co-consecrators, in St. Peter's Basilica.

He was named Archbishop of Vilnius on 24 December 1991.

John Paul II created him Cardinal-Priest of Natività di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo a Via Gallia in the consistory of 21 February 2001. Bačkis was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI as well as in the one in 2013 which selected Pope Francis. Since having reached the age of 80, Bačkis is no longer eligible to vote in any future conclaves.

Within the Lithuanian Episcopal Conference, he has been president (1993–1999, 2002–2005) and Vice-President (1999–2002, 2005–2011). Besides his native Lithuanian, the Cardinal speaks English, French, German, Italian, Polish, and has a limited comprehension of Dutch.[citation needed]


Pope Francis accepted Bačkis's resignation on 5 April 2013.[1]

Pope Francis named Bačkis as his Special Envoy to celebrations marking the 1,025th anniversary of the Baptism (Conversion) of the Kievan Rus, to be held in Kiev, Ukraine, on 17 and 18 August 2013.[2]



  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentė". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 18 June 2014.

External links