Audrys Bačkis

His Eminence
Audrys Bačkis
Cardinal, Archbishop Emeritus of Vilnius

Cardinal Bačkis
Archdiocese Vilnius
Province Vilnius
See Vilnius
Appointed 24 December 1991
Term ended 5 April 2013
Predecessor Julijonas Steponavicius
Successor Gintaras Grušas
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Natività di Nostro Signore Gesù Cristo a Via Gallia
Ordination 18 March 1961
by Luigi Traglia
Consecration 4 October 1988
by Pope John Paul II
Created Cardinal 21 February 2001
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Audrys Juozas Bačkis
Born (1937-02-01) 1 February 1937
Kaunas, Lithuanian SSR
Nationality  Lithuania
  Vatican City
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Stasys Antanas Bačkis
Previous post
  • Titular Archbishop of Meta (1988–1991)
  • Apostolic Pro-Nuncio to Netherlands (1988–1991)
Motto sub tuum praesidium
Coat of arms
Styles of
Audrys Juozas Bačkis
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Vilnius (emeritus)

Audrys Juozas Bačkis (born 1 February 1937) is a Lithuanian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He currently is the Archbishop Emeritus of Vilnius, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 2001.

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 then went to Rome to study 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. Bačkis was later 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. Bačkis remains eligible to vote in any future conclaves that begin before his 80th birthday in 2017.

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.


Having reached the age limit of 75 at which all Catholic Bishops must offer their letter of resignation to the Pope, Cardinal Bačkis's resignation was accepted by Pope Francis on Friday, 5 April 2013.[1] Pope Francis, in one of his first major episcopal appointments, named Bishop Gintaras Grušas, 51, who until then had been serving as Military Ordinary of Lithuania, as the Cardinal's successor as Archbishop of Vilnius, meaning that when Cardinal Bačkis reaches the age of 80 and becomes ineligible to participate in a Papal Conclave, Archbishop-elect Grušas could also be named a Cardinal in a future consistory. The new Archbishop, a Washington, D.C. native, is currently also the Secretary of the Lithuanian Bishops' Conference and is a former IBM technical consultant for marketing.[2][3][4]

Pope Francis named Cardinal 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.[5]



  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  2. "CNS NEWS BRIEFS Apr-5-2013". Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  3. secretaria status
  4. "Pontifical Acts - 5 April". 2013-04-05. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  6. "Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidentė". Archived from the original on 19 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-06-18.


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