Because the Soviet press is the concern of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (KP CK), we wish to direct the attention of the KP CK to the articles of Assistant Professor J. Aničius, a doctoral candidate in history, published by the Lithuanian Soviet press this year. A variety of newspapers has printed his articles on laws concerning religious practice and freedom of conscience. These articles contain much obvious sophistry and many untruths.
1. Aničius' article "Freedom of Conscience" states that the bourgeoisie have never formally endorsed freedom of anti-religious beliefs.
Bourgeois countries do not formally endorse the freedom of anti-religious beliefs, because that is a self-evident requirement, such as eating, washing, and the like. Does any country in existence outlaw the atheist press or place restrictions on atheistic, so-called "progressive" organizations?
2. In this same article Aničius states that bourgeois countries "have a one-sided interpretation of freedom of conscience, as the freedom to profess a religion . . . Bourgeois Lithuania (pre-World War II) defended the rights of its believing citizens . . .how-ever, it did not guarantee all citizens, including non-believers, freedom of conscience."
There is much more "one-sidedness" in Lithuania today than there was betore the war. At that time both the religious believers and the atheists could express and propagate their beliefs, while today only atheists have that right.
In pre-war Lithuania, atheists could occupy high positions. For example, the rector of the agricultural academy from 1926-34 and minister of education 1934-39 was J. Tomkūnas; the representative of the bourgeois government of Lithuania to London in 1919. rector of the University of Kaunas, 1929-33, and Minister of Education, June 15, 1926 to December 17, 1926, was J. Čepinskis. There was a host of professors: Vl. Dubas, Bl. Lašas, P. Avižonis, T. Ivanauskas, and others.
Junior college students used history manuals prepared by the atheist Viparis and J. Norkus.
Atheistic organizations were operative: Kultūra, (Culture), Lietuvių kultūros švietimo draugija (Lithuanian Cultural Education Society), and "Laisvamanių etinės kultūros draugija,(Ethical Cultural Society of Free-Thinkers).
Atheistic periodicals were published: Laisvoji mintis (Free Thought), Laisvamanis (The Freethinker), Kultūra (Culture), Vaga (The Furrow), Lietuvos Žinios (The Lithuanian News), Laikas (Time), Lietuvos Ūkininkas (The Lithuanian Farmer), Moksleivis (The Student), Moksleivių Varpai (Student Bells), etc.
Many atheistic books were published. Atheistic teachers were organized in the Lietuvos mokytojų profesinė sąjunga (The Professional Association of Lithuanian Teachers), which had its own publication, Mokykla ir gyvenimas (The School and Life). Some atheists even had their own cemeteries.
One of the undersigned had three teachers who would not make the sign of the cross in class at prayer times, and one classmate who did not study religion, since his parents had indicated that they did not want their child to be a believer. And this was considered a normal thing, at which no one was surprised.
If only the faithful today had even a modicum of the freedoms which the atheists had in pre-war Lithuania!
3. In the above-mentioned article, Aničas writes that in the concept of "freedom of conscience", as it is understood by the Communists, is included "equal rights for citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation".
This is all very beautiful, but it is not so in fact. Why is the majority of religious practices carried out secretly? It means that the people involved feel the threat of unpleasantness. This is some good mark for socialistic "humanism and freedom of conscience and religion". Why, in meetings, in a "cultured fashion", "without offending religious feelings", are those who have not yet shaken off "religious superstitions" discussed? Why do teachers have to submit written explanations for practicing religion?
For according to international law, which is valid also in our country, "each person has the right to profess his religion and convictions individually, as well as together with others, publicly or privately to carry out religious worship, religious services". (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UNO, December 16, 1966).
Why is one for "religious affiliation" discharged Irom work? E.g., the teacher (Mrs.) Brilienė in Vilkaviškis or the Chairman of the communal farm in Miroslav. Why are those children who go to church the object of ridicule in school, and why are caricatures of them drawn in wall-newspapers? Why is a domestic who works in a priest's home denied the right to a pension if she takes part in religious activity? Why is a group of believers unable to organize excursions, to get a bus? After all, believers participate equally with atheists in production—why then are they considered step-children?
We have the right only to believe, but, not the right to express our belief, or to fulfill religious duties. In the words of Aničas, "complete freedom of conscience consists of every citizens right to develop a materialistic world-view, to be guided by it without interference, and also to propagate atheistic views." This is one-sided freedom, incomplete freedom, if believers do not have the right to develop their religious world-view. They do not have books, religious instruction is forbidden. They are unable to spread religious views. This is incompatible with international law, which allows one "to hold opinions without interference ... to . . . receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, orally, in writing or in print. . ." (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN, December 16, 1966.) In this regard, believers do not have equal rights with the atheists.
4. In his article, "How a Religious Community is Organized and Operates", Aničas writes that the State does not interfere in the religious life of the religious community and that the believers themselves have the right to decide all questions touching on the fulfillment of religious requirements.
Those are empty words. Why are children forbidden to participate in processions, or to serve at Holy Mass, if the believers themselves—the parents and their children wish it so? It is forbidden,
even though there is no law against it. Why, at funerals, are the children of believers, when they come as an organized group, at the death of a classmate or of anyone near and dear to them, not allowed to remain in church, but must remain outside, even in the rain or snow? Why are others forbidden to teach them religion, when the parents themselves are unable to do so? Why are the faithful unable to obtain prayer-books, catechisms, rosaries, etc., why are these things taken away from those who sell them? Why can the faithful not have enough priests — Why is their preparation restricted, and the number of seminarians limited? This is gross interference in internal affairs, and it is interference with the fulfillment of religious requirements.
5. In the same article, Aničas writes that in Lithuania during the past few years "quite a bit of religious literature" has been prepared, "which the state publishing house has published."
"Quite a bit"? Priest have received just one copy each of the Decrees of Vatican II. Of the New Testament, and the Psalter, medium-sized parishes received barely ten copies; of the prayer-book — the rare parishioner received one. Can these publications satisfy the requirements of the faithful? In the meantime atheistic publications are printed in huge quantities (about 50 thousand copies ofZuikių Pasakas, The Stories of the Rabbits)"
Aničas writes that other religious publications have been released. What are these others? There have never been any!
6. Aničas remarks that private material assistance is forbidden,
since that "insults the dignity of citizens". (Ibid.)
This is discrimination against the faithful, and demeaning to them, when mutual help funds are otherwise allowed (e.g., within the framework of professional associations), and mutual assistance is encouraged: Students are taught to be altruistic, and office directors are berated for insensitivity and lack of humaneness. Regardless of state social security, there are nevertheless people who need assistance: neglected old people, the sick, and others. Elsewhere citizens freely dispose of their savings; why must this be forbidden among us believers?
7. In his article, "Ministers of Cult—for Religious Need", Aničas writes that a priest cannot be a member of the executive body of a religious community.
This is discrimination against the priest as a Soviet citizen. He is forbidden to concern himself with the repair of buildings of the cult.
And why not? After all, he sometimes has more time and skill. The members of the community are burdened with various jobs as it is, and besides, no one will release them from production for church affairs.
8. In the aforementioned article, Aničas writes that "the sphere of activities for a clergyman is the dwelling of the faithful of the community under his care and the premises of the appropriate house of prayer."
As a matter of fact this is so, but there are cases when he must also work in another parish. Canon Law obliges priests to help one another. This cooperation among us the civil government restricts. This is an intolerable interference in the internal affairs of the Church. If it is no offense when a militiaman helps capture a thief outside his own precinct, when the physician gives help to a patient outside his own district, if voluntary assistance is practiced to get crops in, then why should a priest wishing to invite clergy help, in order to serve the faithful more expeditiously, have to request permission of the civil government?
9. Aničas writes that "It is not allowed to use means not a part of cult, to satisfy the religious requirements of the faithful or to activate their religioius life." (Same source).
What means, — concretely?
Here the faithful are objects of discrimination — they are treated differently from the atheists. The latter can, by all means carry on "their own activities", while the faithful have none of those means. Here the atheists speak for all. Nevertheless the state is made up not just of atheists, but also in great majority, of the faithful. Among us there is just a handful of atheists, but they try by force to foist their views on others: In this case their voice does not represent justice.
10. Aničas writes that "in limiting the activities of a clergymen," there is a desire to guard the public and the State from harm (Ibid.)
It would be interesting to know from what harm? Perhaps so that families might be stronger, that there might be fewer crimes, that there be less drinking and more conscientious work?
11. In his article, "For the Younger Generation, a Scientific Worldview", Aničas writes that the "compulsory education of children in a religious spirit is an anti-humanistic phenomenon".
Is the compulsory teaching of atheism, without the permission of the parents moreover, a humanistic phenomenon?
How can it be an anti-humanistic phenomenon, if the highest government of our country has signed a convention in which the right of parents is acknowledged, to educate their children according to their own beliefs (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN December 16, 1966)? This "international covenant" demands that the parents' rights be respected. But the affirmation that parents have no right to rear their children religiously is a mockery of the parents' rights, trampling them! This right, to rear one's children according to one's beliefs, has been acknowledged by all nations since the most ancient times.
The Convention on War Against Discrimination in the Field of Education (UN, 1962) says that it is wrong to foist on children beliefs which are contrary to the beliefs of the parents. Among us, however, the children of believers are forced to become atheists. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the leaders of the Soviet Union also signed, states that "parents have a prior right to chose the kind of education which shall be given to their children.", but Aničas denies that with his arguments. This is the greatest inhumanity. The teaching of Docent J. Aničas reflects the attitudes of the days of slavery, when the parents were not acknowledged to have any rights over their children.
The spirit of this convention is guaranteed by The Foundations of the Laws Concerning the People's Education, which the Supreme Soviet of the USSR confirmed July 19, 1973. There the 65th paragraph states: "If by an international treaty, or by international agreement, in which the USSR is party, regulations are established, different from those which the laws of the people's education of the USSR and of the Soviet republics foresee, the norms of the international treaty or the international agreement shall apply." 12. Aničas affirms that religion can be taught privately.
This was Lenin's idea. According to him, religion is not to be taught in public school as a required subject, but one can teach it on one's own outside the confines of the school.. (This is the practice in people's democracies.) However, this idea of Lenin is distorted among us—the decree of January, 23, 1918, which says, "Citizens may teach and study religion privately", is not followed. The decree sounds as though it has no restrictions, but our "democratic" laws have restricted it: The parents alone may teach religion,—no one else. Our parents are allowed to engage a music teacher for their child, or a mathematics teacher, but they may not engage a teacher of religion. On other points, too, the mind of
Lenin is not adhered to. For example, Lenin required that nowhere in one's documents should be characterizations "believer" or "non-believer" be used, but today among us the student completing school has written in his records that he is a believer. In our circumstances, this means discrimination: obstacles are thrown up to higher studies.
13. Equally drastic is the ban on juveniles actively participating in religious services. (Ibid.)
No laws mention this. Children from their baptism already belong to the community of the faithful. Canon law in this regard does not divide the faithful into adults and juveniles. Here the civil government grossly interferes in the private life of the faithful and transgresses the rights of believers to participate in religious ceremonies. Juveniles cannot be such only in the eyes of the executive organ of the community, if from the moment of baptism they are members of the Catholic Church: They receive certain sacraments, they are buried with religious services.
14. Aničas writes that parents teaching their children religion abuse their authority, that this goes agains the public interest, that the law has not conferred such rights, that the family's policies must agree with school policy .... and that the state does not prevent parents from teaching their children religion. (Ibid.)
Here Aničas abandons all logic: II there is no conflict, then why the need to conform? If the Constitution of the country declares freedom of religion, then how are the parents abusing it, how are they going against the public interest? If Soviet law obliges parents to conform training in the family with the atheistic school, then what remains of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of conscience and of religion?
Here it is not the parents who abuse their rights, but the government, which historically was formed later than the family. Parents of their nature have certain inalienable rights, which no one may abuse, not even the government—otherwise it would be tyrannical. Abuses of this kind have been seen in recent history: German Fascism used to draft children into the Hitlerjugend against the wishes of the parents, and used to rear them atheistically and chauvinisticly. . .
In the latest international accord, at Helsinki, the participants also committed themselves to respect freedom of religion and of conscience, without any discrimination. However, the laws governing religion in our country, as explained by J. Aničas, are an overt discrimination against the faithful. Lenin somewhere wrote that in czarist times "the church was in feudal dependence on the state" (Vol. X. 1952. p. 65), "that there were shameful laws against people of faiths other than the Orthodox" (Vol. VI, p. 364). It is the same now: The Church is not separated from the state, but subject to it; only those who profess atheism enjoy freedom; shameful regulations restrict the religious life of the faithful in various ways.
It is the sad truth that the writings of Docent J. Aničas, a candidate for the doctorate in history, regarding "freedom" of religion and conscience are quite far from the truth. We therefore request the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania to see that the various decisions and regulations contrary to freedom of conscience and of religion be abrogated, and that the Catholics of Lithuania be guaranteed the right to take advantage of those rights and privileges which are guaranteed by international agreement and the Constitution of the land.
Copies of this document have been sent to:
1.The Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian S.S.R.
2.The Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian S.S.R.
3.The Praesidium of the Academy of Science of the Lithuanian S.S.R.
4.The Deputy of the Council for Religious Affairs, of the Lithuanian S.S.R.
5. The Chancery of the Archdiocese of Vilnius.
October 4, 1975 Priests of the Archdiocese of Vilnius:
The Rev. B. Laurinavičius, Rev. A. Simonaitis, Rev. A. Petronis, Rev. K. Garuckas, Rev. V. Černiauskas, Rev. K. Žemėnas, Rev. J. Balčiūnas, Rev. C. Taraškevičius, Rev. J. Jardelis, Rev. B. Jaura, Rev. M. Petravičius, Rev. D. Valiukonis, Rev. D. Puidokas, Rev. J. Kutka, Rev. N. Norkūnas, Rev. D. Valančiauskas, Rev. J. Slėnys, Rev. J. Baltušis, Rev. A. Kanišauskas, Rev. A. Merkys, Rev. A. Ulickas, Rev. K. Valeikis, Rev. S. Tumaitis, Rev. J. Vaitonis, Rev. I. Jakutis, Rev. A. Mačiulis, Rev. P. Jankus, Rev. A. Keina, Rev. J. Lauriūnas, Rev. S. Valiukėnas, Rev. K. Pukėnas.