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Lithuania: Bishop Grusas, “we need global measures to prevent and reduce alcohol abuse”

“We need global measures: preventing, reducing, providing accessible and effective support to alcoholic people and their families. But first and foremost we need social solidarity in the fight against such abuse. My freedom must make other people free too”. This has been written today by the archbishop of Vilnius, Gintaras Grusas, as he spoke on behalf of the Lithuanian bishops in the debate that is going on in Lithuania about the regulations that are being discussed by Parliament to reduce alcohol abuse in the country, which is top of the world lists of alcohol consumption (16 litres of pure alcohol per capita a year, much higher than the European average). The Health Minister proposes that the age to buy alcohol should be raised to 20, new taxes should be levied, advertisements should be banned, and the time alcohol can be sold should be further restricted. “The current discussions about whether we are or aren’t the first in the world”, mgr. Grušas writes, “whether measures should only be taken against alcoholics” in a public debate that makes room “only for the voices of those who know how to drink moderately” is the hallmark of “a society that has forgotten what solidarity means”. “There are battles that can only be won if everyone agrees to take the burden together, the strong and the weak, the healthy and the sick”. The archbishop admits that the proposed measures will be unpopular and will have an economic impact on business and citizens, but he calls politicians to be brave and take “difficult decisions to create a safe, supportive society”.

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