After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia became independent in 1991 and have been members of the European Union since 2004. As the southernmost and largest of the three Baltic states, Lithuania, with its 2.8 million inhabitants, is the only country of the former Soviet Union that has a Catholic majority of 80%, while Catholics are in the minority in Estonia and Latvia.
In the Baltic States, ACN is particularly active in the areas of Catholic media relations and the training of priests, as well as child and youth work in the parishes. In the Soviet era, several generations grew up without any faith formation whatsoever. Today many people are still in search of spiritual orientation. Low-threshold initiatives are important means of answering their questions. The media, for example, can be used for this purpose. To this end, ACN has supported the Catholic radio station Mažoji Studija (small studio) in Vilnius, Lithuania since 1993; the station makes an important contribution to evangelism.
Many people seek spiritual orientation here.
In Latvia, Catholics make up a quarter of some 1.9 million inhabitants. The largest denomination is Lutheran with 34% of the population. During the reporting period, ACN supported the training of nuns, helped with renovations and sponsored the production of a documentary film about Bishop Sloskans, who was imprisoned for his faith during the Soviet era and had to perform forced labour under the harshest conditions. The later friend and companion of ACN is a role model for many through his life story. In Estonia, Catholics are a very small minority of less than 2%.
The largest Christian denomination is made up of Orthodox Christians – mainly ethnic Russians – at 16%, followed by Lutherans at just under 10%. Here ACN has primarily supported construction projects and sponsored priests with Mass stipends. ACN is also committed to helping children and young people in the Baltic States, where we regularly sponsor Christian summer camps.