To: Bishop L. Povilonis, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis
On March 10 of this year, the Rev. J. Zdebskis, pastor of Šlavantai, was detained in Vilnius by the militia, and, with the aid of the Commission of Medical Workers, was charged with drunken driving. Since Zdebskis is known everywhere as a strict teetotaler and a fighter against alcoholism this event cannot be seen as anything but a well-thought-out threat against the authority of the priest. No one can assure us, that if this attempt suceeds, any one of us will not be similarly charged with theft, profligacy or other crimes.
We the priests of the neighboring parishes request Your Excellency to react to this event so that the injured authority of the priest would be reaffirmed.
Signed by Five Priests of the Lazdijai Deanery
To the Head of the Security Committee of LSSR
Statement of the Faithful of the Parish of Šlavantai (District of Lazdija)
On March 10, 1975, in the city of Vilnius, Vilnius Automotive Inspection Officer Turevich detained our parish priest Juozas Zdebskis, who was driving a car, and declared him drunk. He demanded that the priest go to a psychiatric hospital to determine the degree of drunkenness.
At the above mentioned institution, without a blood analysis being made, even though the priest himself demanded one, a report affirming drunkenness was made. The VAI took away his driver's license and the rayon newspaper published a news item that a priest had been detained in Vilnius for drunken driving.
We the faithful of the Šlavantai parish know that our priests never use alcoholic beverages. This is also confirmed by three people who were riding with him, whose testimony was completely ignored at the time of the incident.
Such a rude insult to a priest affects us, the faithful, also. Can it be that such means are used to promote atheistic propaganda? Therefore, we demand that the dishonesty of the VAI and the employees of the psychiatric hospital be investigated, and its consequences rectified by the return of the driver's license. We would like to have an answer as to who was responsible for such blatant misuse of the official power of the VAI and medical officials?
Please reply directly to the Rev. Zdebskis (Šlavantai Rayon of Lazdijai).
Šlavantai May 19, 1976
Prosecutor's Office, LSSR Vilnius, Gogolio 4 1976.04.05. No. 2/1541
To: Juozas Zdebskis Rayon of Lazdijai Village of Šlavantai
Upon review of the circumstances brought out in your statement, it has been found that on March 10, 1976 you were operating a car while not in a sober state, this being witnessed by a statement of medical examination to determine the degree of intoxication. The statement affirms that in the course of the examination a state of light intoxication was established.
Under the circumstances, you were with good reason fined 30 rubles and suspension of your driver's license tor the period of 18 months.
The Prosecutor's Office finds no basis for your protest of the decision of the head of the Department of Interior of the Rayon of Lazdijai, concerning your punishment according to the administrative order, for drunken driving.
Prosecutor, Common Care Department (signed) V. Markevičius
To: Prosecutor General of the USSR, Moscow
By: Rev. Juozas Zdebskis, son of Vincas
Residing in the Rayon of Lazdijai, Lithuanian SSR Šlavantai
I would like to bring your attention to an arrogant provocation committed against me by organs of the KGB with the help of officials of Automotive Inspection and the Vilnius Psychiatric Hospital.
On March 10 of this year, in my car, a "Žiguli" LLG 77-21, I was driving a sick woman, Zabelė Medonaitė, accompanied by her father, Medonas (They are both my parishioners, and I am a priest of the Catholic Church). Riding with us was Citizen Jonas Stašaitis, residing in Vilnius — Stalininkai, Vilniaus 7.
In Vilnius, about 10 a.m., I was detained by VAI Officer Jurevich, who stated that I am drunk. On the contrary, the priests of my diocese and all my parishioners know that I am a total abstainer. At the psychiatric hospital (vasaros g.) the doctor, without making any blood analysis, even though I repeatedly demanded it, wrote a statement confirming a light degree of intoxication. The results of this dishonest action was a fine of 30 rubles and 18 months suspension of my driver's license. Moreover, the rayon newspaper published an article which states that I could not resist the attraction of a drink, thus showing their ill will. At the same time they demeaned the Soviet government and a Soviet newspaper.
Please intervene in this unfortunately widely known matter, and reinstate my drivers license, which is vitally necessary for my daily work as a priest.
April 23, 1976 The Rev. J. Zdebskis
To: The Council of Ministers of the L.S.S.R. Copy to: His Excellency Bishop L. Povilonis
On March 10 of this year in the city of Vilnius, a "Ziguli" automobile driven by the Rev. J. Zdebskis was detained. An auto inspector in a car, having charged the driver with drunken driving, took him to the Vilnius Psychiatric Hospital.
In the hospital, the previously prepared first act of a charade was enacted; that is, the degree of drunkenness was determined from the pulse rate. The second act of this charade was brought to a close with the confiscation of Father Juozas' driver's license.
The third act of the play will begin in 18 months, when Father Juozas tries to repossess his driver's license.
I would like to say a few words about the Rev. Juozas Zdebskis, whose name is well known not only to Christians but also to atheists. I had the opportunity to visit Šlavantai and to speak with the faithful of this parish. Everyone spoke respectfully of their pastor. Like a real father, he never sends away anyone who turns to him. Even that unhappy morning of March 10, he suffered while fulfilling the commandment of love of neighbor, driving to Vilnius his parishioner, an invalid. His whole life is a garland of struggle for the Christian ideal, and of good works. I have no wish to dwell too long on this question. In short: he is loved by the faithful, and condemned and slandered by the atheists.
I would like to bring to your attention the illogic of the perpetrators of this spectacle. The trip from Šlavantai to Vilnius takes at least three hours. It seems like a fairy tale: "He got up and got drunk". But this matter concerns a man whom no one had ever seen drunk. At the time of detention, there were witnesses who confirmed that Father Juozas had not even seen whiskey either the previous evening, nor in the morning throughout the trip.
This version cannot be believed by anybody. It is not even believed by the perpetrators of the spectacle; otherwise how can one explain the refusal to take a blood sample for analysis?
Was it not possible to think up something more clever to slander a priest? There are so many spectacles going on here that it would be impossible to record them all even on the hide of an ox ...
On Christmas Eve, Christmas trees are decorated. On Christmas Eve Lithuanians, eating the blessed wafers of Christmas Eve by the decorated tree, forget injuries done to one another. Christmas Dinner is a feast of family reconciliation. Take a walk that evening in the streets of the city and you will see in almost every apartment a decorated tree. Everything seems simple and beautiful; only I don't understand why Lithuanians are forced to obtain Christmas trees in various illegal ways. As if to mock the faithful, Christmas trees appear at the stalls only when they are no longer necessary — after Christmas.
I do not understand why this annually repeated spectacle is necessary, especially when one can see a beautifully prepared Christmas program on television, broadcast from peoples' Poland. Our "scientific viewpoint" is afraid of a Christmas tree light lit a few days earlier.
Again: What is the contribution to atheism by the frequent destruction of the Hill of Crosses? Most likely, this explains their mission since no one ever heard of the atheists destroying the image of the devil. On the contrary, this form of folk art is especially respected by the atheists.
Do not deceive yourselves — baubles and winging crows which were hung on the cupolas of the Garrison Church of Kaunas during a common spectacle will never represent the earth and its satelites, but only atheist hatred of the faithful.
"The Church sincerely acknowledges that all people, believing and non-believing, must join in the creation of this world, in which they all must live together, and this is really impossible without a sincere and intelligent dialogue" (Decrees of Vatican II).
I wish this admonition were heard by everyone, since in the loam cultivated "scientifically" for many years the weeds of evil are not diminishing but increasing. Their fruits — drunkenness, adultery, divorce, venereal diseases, insane aylums, juvenile reformatories, prisons — attack like a fungus the foundations of the nation. Even the murder of unborn infants has become an integral part of family planning.
Let us look at life with open eyes and we will see that where there are no permanent values only street noises, the clatter of looms and lowing of cattle—man becomes empty, incapable of any noble endeavor.
Father Zdebskis fighting for the Christian ideal, radiating goodness, has suffered much already. The injuries inflicted on him are a new wound on the soul of believers.
I ask the Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian S.S.R. to issue directions to the concerned agencies to restrain the perpetrators of the spectacles.
Kaunas April 1976
Vytautas Vaičiūnas (The letter is condensed — Editor).