ZARASAI RAYON, 1971
On December 17, 1971, Bezusparis, the interrogator of the Zarasai Rayon Procurator's Office, and police Lieuten ant Bagdonavičius came to the eight-year school in Aviliai during class time.
They interrogated the following students one at a time in the faculty room in regard to their preparation for First Communion in the summer of 1971: Bakutis, [Miss] Razmanavičiūtė, and the two Jezerskas sisters. The students were asked these questions: Did the pastor teach you? For how long did he teach? What did he teach? Did the pastor give you a catechism? Did he give you a prayer book? What did the pastor talk about?
Each child was interrogated for about an hour; before being released, he had to sign a written report. After returning to class, Bakutis cried through the entire lesson.
Other children were called to the physics room, and the interrogator wrote on the blackboard: "To the Procurator of Zarasai Rayon." The children had to write how many times they had gone to see the pastor and who had taught them about the faith and how? They had to sign their papers. The interrogator took with him these testimonials writen by eighteen children. The children had been deeply upset during the interrogation, and some even returned home crying. After her young daughter returned home in tears, [Mrs.] Pupeikienė went to see the principal to express her anxiety over the interrogation of children without their parents' knowledge regarding their First Communion. On the following day, [Mrs.] Mažeikienė came to see the principal, complaining that that night her child had even started from his sleep because of his fright.
On Dec. 20 several women set out for the Zarasai Procurator's Office to protest the interrogation of children without their parents' presence, because in that case the children write down whatever the interrogator commands them to, out of fear. The women presented a written protest to the procurator. Then they were all questioned by the procurator and the interrogator.
At the same time that the women were being interrogated in the Procurator's Office, the children, with teachers keeping watch so that they would not run away, were again being questioned regarding First Communion.
Several mothers whose children had not returned home on time after classes hurried to the school. Forcing their way into the office, they found their children undergoing interrogation. A police officer and one teacher were also in the office. A tape recorder hidden under a desk was recording. Protesting that their children were being interrogated without their knowledge and were being detained all day without having eaten, the mothers collected their children and took them home. The children who had not been questioned yet were allowed to leave with them. As the officials from the Procurator's Office were leaving, they promised to return again.
When the parents came across the principal, they assailed him severely for allowing their children to be interrogated and intimidated so that they cannot sleep at night and tremble whenever they see an automobile in their fear that perhaps the interrogator is coming again.
What a pity that little children eight to ten years of age are being interrogated because of First Communion as if they were thieves or hooligans.
For unknown reasons criminal proceedings were not begun against the pastor of the parish in Aviliai, Canon B. Antanaitis.
On January 13, 1972, the People's Court of Akmenė Rayon had sentenced seventy-year-old [Miss] Kleofa Biciusaité to one year in prison for teaching religious truths to children in the parish of Kruopiai. Four days later, the convicted woman was transferred from Akmenė to the prison in Šiauliai. The Supreme Court of the LSSR changed the penalty to a fine of 100 rubles. Biciusaité spent one month at the prison in Šiauliai. She returned home on February 17.
Kleofa Bičiušaité had been punished for teaching religious truths to children once before. She had been dismissed from work at a kindergarten and was given neither another job nor a pension; her brother helped support her.
On April 20, 1972, the administrative commission of the Jurbarkas Rayon Soviet of Working People's Deputies Executive Committee, chaired by [Mrs.] H. Tamošiūnienė, deliberated in an open session the administrative case of Father Viktoras Šauklys, MIC, the pastor of the parish in Girdžiai. The pastor was accused of having "used underage students from the school in Girdžiai to carry banners and scatter flowers in church, thereby violating the decree handed down on May 12, 1966, by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR." The commission imposed a fifty-ruble fine. Father Šauklys, MIC, appealed this decision to the People's Court of Jurbarkas Rayon.
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An administrative fine of fifty rubles was also imposed upon the organist of the parish in Girdžiai because she had organized a procession.
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Because the pastor of the parish in Vadžgirys, the Rev. Gustavas Gudanavičius, allowed children to serve mass, he was fined fifty rubles by the administrative procedure. Father Gudanavičius appealed the above decision of the administrative commission to the People's Court of Jurbarkas Rayon.
On April 16, at the cathedral-basilica of the Kaunas Archdiocese, H.E. Bishop J. Labukas ordained six theology students who had completed their fourth-year theology studies. (N.B. Last year twelve priests died in Lithuania.) Next year, another six seminarians are expected to be ordained.
With the departure of six neopresbyters from the seminary, at present only thirty-three seminarians remain:
Philosophy Course ................... 11
Theology Course I ........................9
Theology Course II .......................7
Theology Course III ......................6
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At the halfway mark of the past academic year, the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs visited the seminary's library to check on the literature the seminarians were reading. He was displeased that they were not reading the classical authors of Marxism.
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In midyear the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs wanted to expel several seminarians from the seminary. His reasons were unclear. Most people are guessing that it was a case of ordinary blackmail, in order to maintain among the seminarians a constant atmosphere of fear.
After having been tormented for half a year by not being permitted to carry out his clerical duties, the Rev. A. Šeškevičius was appointed to the position of curate in Šilalė. The registration certificate was issued temporarily, however—for three months.
At present the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs is issuing temporary registration certificates for priests to all "anti-Soviet priests." All priests who do not defer to the oral instructions of the authorities but are instead zealously carrying out their clerical duties are considered such.