In the middle of August, the Commission for Religious Affairs notified the seminary administration which candidates are given permission by the government to study at the Theological Seminary. Twenty candidates were allowed to enroll in the first-year philosophy course. There were over 40 applications for study at the Seminary. This is how the "most democratic" government in the world "does not interfere" in internal church affairs.
Those who entered the Seminary were many times diligently recruited to work as KGB agents. Security agents most diligently recruit as agents timid, unprincipled and introverted seminarians. They avoid recruiting courageous and candid young men in order that they not reveal the KGB's criminal activity.
It is very unfortunate that this year again several unqualified candidates enrolled in the Seminary, while a sizeable group of good candidates was rejected.
To: Lithuanian SSR Commissioner for Religious Affairs with the USSR Council of Ministers, Citizen K. Tumėnas
Copies to: His Excellency Bishop J. Matulaitis-Labukas His Excellency Bishop L. Povilonis His Excellency Bishop R. Krikščiūnas Most Reverend Administrator Msgr. Č. Krivaitis Most Reverend Administrator Canon J. Andrikonis
A statement from: The rector of the Kaunas Intradiocesan Seminary Professor, Dr. Viktoras Butkus
On June 12, 1976, the Moscow English-language weekly Moscow News and on July 21, 1976, the French Les Nouvelles de Moscou printed an interview with Father Viktoras Butkus, Rector of the Kaunas Theological Seminary, regarding the situation of the Roman Catholic Church in the Soviet Union.
Later, this interview was reprinted by a long list of Western European and American newspapers (i.e., Evening News No. 124, May 30, 1977), it was also repeated by Vatican Radio with rather nasty commentaries. I happened to personally hear this broadcast.
Regarding this interview attirbuted to me, I must state the following:
I did not grant an interview to either the English or the French "Moscow News" weekly, and have never had any contact with this weekly. I have up to now been unsuccessful in determining who wrote this interview attributed to me. Unfortunately, I have also been unsuccessful in obtaining Moscow News in either English or French, and am unable to verify the original text of this interview; however, the Vatican Radio broadcast contained many errors which no priest, especially not a Seminary rector, could have ever made.
In this matter, I ask that it be determined who wrote this interview in my name and without my consent, that it be retracted and all possible steps be taken to ensure that this does not recur in the future.
Kaunas, June 18, 1977
Respectfully yours, Prof. Dr. Viktoras Butkus
Commentary It is incredible that Dr. Viktoras Butkus could have written this statement without the knowledge and consent of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs. That is the general opinion of practically all Lithuanian priests. Until now, only the bravest priests dared write and distribute statements unfavorable to the government, and not those who obediently carry out the will of the godless government.
Dr. Butkus has greatly compromised the Moscow weekly with this statement. For markedly lesser "sins" against the Soviet government, offending priests have been ousted from high Church positions. The future will uncover the truth: if Dr. Butkus continues to head the Seminary and travel to peace conferences, it will mean that his statement was merely a political maneuver by the godless government, for instance, to compromise theChronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and Vatican Radio which commented on the Seminary Rector's interview.
If Dr. Butkus' statement is truly sincere, it would be desirable that his other interviews be retracted, or perhaps only interviews published in his name containing lies or covering up the true situation of the Catholic Church, e.g., interview in the December 31,1965 Communist Laisvėje (In Freedom).
At the beginning of 1977, the publishing house "Vaizdas" printed the Catholic prayerbook "Visada su Dievu" ("Always With God") which was edited two years ago. The exact printing is not known, there should have been about 60,000 copies. The binders delayed binding the prayerbooks until September and performed their work rather poorly. There were some prayerbooks which fell apart after being opened the first time. Speculators were already selling these prayerbooks several months ago for seven to ten rubles each.
This long-awaited prayerbook will disappoint many. Many thousands will not receive it. It is unsuitable for our youth because of its large format. It is clearly too limited for more devout Catholics. Choirs will feel the absence of funeral hymns, the rosary hymn and so forth.
During August 18-23, Lithuania was visited by the bishops of Mainz, Erfurt and Berlin and three priests who accompanied them. The guests visited Aušros Vartai (The Gates of Dawn), and the Panevėžys and Kaunas Cathedrals. Everywhere, the Catholics of Lithuania very warmly welcomed the visiting bishops and beautifully demonstrated their faith. On August 21st, the Kaunas Cathedral overflowed with worshippers.
This visit by the bishops prior to the Belgrade Conference was an attempt by the Soviet government to mask the enslaved situation of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. The German Bishops were even allowed to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Kaunas Cathedral. When will the bishops of Lithuania, Julijus Steponavičius and Vincas Sladkevičius, be allowd to do the same?
To: U.N. Commission on Human Rights
Copies to: USSR Attorney General LSSR State Prosecutor
A Letter of Protest from: Citizen Jaugelis, Virgilijus,
Son of Vincas, Residing in Lithuania, Kaunas, Markso g. No. 40, apt. 1
On June 23, 1976, in the town of Raseiniai, I was forcibly arrested by a militiaman and a security police employee, who did not name the charges against me. After forcibly seating me in their car and without presenting any document, they wanted to conduct a body and luggage search. When I refused to submit to a search, they drove me toward the woods outside town. On the way, they tried to take away my luggage, all the while using foul Russian curses and threats. Afterward, they drove me to the security police office and confiscated my luggage. After examining it thoroughly, they confiscated the book "Krikščionis pasaulyje" (A Christian in the world") by A. Maceina, which they did not and will not return.
When on June 24, 1976 I wrote the State Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR a letter of protest regarding the above-mentioned events, I received a reply only on September 2nd, that the investigation of this offense was forwarded to the Raseiniai militia and security police; in other words, to those who committed the offense.
I then wrote a letter of complaint on December 22nd to the Attorney General of the USSR, to which I received a reply on February 18, 1977 stating that everything had been forwarded to the LSSR State Prosecutor for investigation. Some time later, I was summoned to the Kaunas Security Headquarters and a security employee stated that my book would not be returned because it is "ideologically dangerous" and, moreover, I might duplicate it.
I will not name here the international agreements which deal with respect for and protection against the violation of basic human rights signed by the USSR, which pledged to uphold them and bring all her laws in compliance with them. I am merely asking you very sincerely to obtain the return of my confiscated book and remind those responsible that (due to commitments made in the field of human rights) these or similar actions not be repeated either in my native country or anywhere in the Soviet Union.
Kirdeikiai R a y o n of Utena
The Kirdeikiai cemetery is in a very beautyful spot, but this beauty was marred by the huge piles of wreaths and trash in the cemetery which no one took care of. The pastor of the parish of Kirdeikiai, Father Petras Kražanskas reminded his parishioners to spruce up the gravesites before Mother's Day and asked for help in a general clean-up of the cemetery. The parishioners gathered on April 30th to clean out the piles of trash from the cemetery. The people were pleased with the orderly cemetery, but Kirdeikiai Middle School Principal (Mrs) V. Rastenienė and teachers (Miss) D. Baškytė, (Mrs) V. Blažiunienė, Z. Misiūnas and others were not so pleased. And so, on May 11th, Middle School Principal (Mrs) V. Rastenienė reported in school that the pastor had desecrated the graves oíactivists. The people were astounded because no one, during the clean-up or later, had noticed that the graves had been disturbed. At the principal's behest, Kirdeikai State Farm Party Secretary Pranas Privariunas spent two days driving from village to village persuading people to testify that the pastor ordered them to demolish the graves of activists. However, not a single person was found who would agree to lie; on the contrary, all asserted that the pastor had told them to clean up not only the graves of relatives but also to decorate neglected graves. The faithful merely laughed at the efforts of the principal and Party secretary to find false witnesses. After failing to find witnesses, Pivariunas ordered a mentally disturbed woman to state that she saw how the graves of activists were desecrated during the clean up. She was supported by (Mrs) Genė Maniušienė, but people wondered how these two women could have seen anything when they had not come to the cemetery during the joint clean-up effort.
On May 20th, the pastor was summoned to the Utena Rayon prosecutor's office where he had to write an explanation of the entire incident. Vice-Chairman Labanauskas of theRayon Executive Committee obscenely berated Father P. Kražanskas for daring to undertake a clean-up campaign of the cemetery, because the cemetery belongs to the local district council and he has no right to concern himself with the cemetery's management. He finally threatened that he would not tolerate Father P. Kražanskas in the Utena Rayon.
Grugdžiai, R a y o n of Šiauliai
The pastor of Gruzdžiai, Father Juozas Vosylius, often complains in his sermons that his parishioners no longer attend church and have become godless. The question arises why the atheists found fertile ground especially in Gruzdžiai?
The faithful remember with sorrow how the pastor, Father Vosylius, personally used to chase children and the youth from processions. They also cannot forget how in 1973 the assistant pastor, Father A.(ntanas) Jokubauskas tried to teach the children catechism, but the pastor interfered as much as possible: He would not allow the children to see the assistant pastor, he locked the churchyard gate and even filed a complaint to the District Council about the instruction of children.
The parishioners of Gruzdžiai sent letters of protest to the bishop, but the chancery made no reaction to them.
Pociūnėliai, R a y o n of Radviliškis
On June 9, 1977, the pastor, Father A. (ntanas) Jokubauskas [Apparently the same priest mentioned in the previous incident, now serving in another capacity. — Tr. Note] was visited by Representative of the Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee Kraujelis, Representative of the Religious Affairs Commission Raslanas and Vice-Chairman A. Krikštanas of the Radviliškis Rayon Executive Committee. The visitors tried to convince the priest that he did not have the right to teach children catechism, but the pastor explained that it was his direct duty to prepare children for First Communion and that he would try to fulfill this duty as diligently as possible, even were he to be punished for it.
Central Committee Representative Kraujelis also accused Father Jokubauskas of urging people to attend church on Sundays, because this interferes with work on the state farm.
The pastor objected, saying that Sunday is a day of rest and the faithful have an obligation to attend Holy Mass. Moreover, if a person is forcibly compelled to work for months at a time without rest, he will work exhausted, without enthusiasm, and his work will not be fruitful.
Central Party Committee Representative Kraujelis threatened, "If it were up to me, Father, you would, from this very evening, no longer have the right to act as a priest, and your work permit would be recinded."
Pavilnys, R a y o n of Vilnius
During the night of February 18-19, 1977 the Church in Pavilnys was vandalized, the Blessed Sacrament was desecrated, a monstrance, reliquaries and several candlesticks were stolen.
(Mrs) Janonienė was being buried on May 16, 1977. School friends wished to express their condolences to their classmates on their mother's death by walking in the funeral procession and carrying wreaths. The decedent's entire family is religious; therefore, the late (Mrs) Janonienė was being buried with church rites. When Principal (Mrs.) Laurinaitienė of the Kėdainiai First Middle school learned that the decedent would be buried with a priest officiating, she forbade the schoolgirls to attend the funeral. If they disobeyed, they would fail their examinations. Nearly all the frightened girls, except for a few brave ones, did not march in the funeral procession.
On July 13, 1977 Bronius Zuikis was being buried in the village of Urliai. His sister summoned Father Lionginas Neniškis from Duokškis. The Rokiškis band was also engaged. When the musicians saw a priest participating in the funeral they said: "We will not play if the priest attends the funeral. We are forbidden to do this by Rokiškis Rayon Secretary Lukoševičius."
Despite the fact that the band had already been paid, the musicians refused to accompany the priest to the cemetery.
In 1977, (Mrs) Teodora Juodienė erected a statue of the Blessed Mother on her mother's grave at the Svėdasai cemetery. District Chairman Giedraitis drew up a report stating that the statue was errected illegally and forced Mrs. Juodienė and her husband to sign the complaint. In June 1977 (Mrs) Juodienė was summoned to the Anykščiai RayonExecutive Committee. Rayon authorities demanded that the statue erected in the cemetery be demolished by July 15th of this year (despite the fact that a building permit had been requested); otherwise, they would personally have to pay for having it demolished.
The pastor of Ceikiniai, Father Karolis Garuckas, a member of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group, received an anonymous letter from "Lithuanians" in July, in which Father K. Garuckas is blamed for the Lithuanian Helsinki group maintaining contact with Moscow dissidents, most of which are of Jewish descent and that Dr. Finkel-stein is a member of the above-mentioned group. It is thought that this is an attempt by the KGB to disband the Helsinki group.
Meškuičiai Rayon of Šiauliai
The famous Lithuanian Hill of Crosses which has weathered many storms, has, under the guidance of Divine Providence, remained unscathed this year, and escaped new wounds. The hill is slowly recovering from the wounds inflicted by the godless, but the scars remain. By May 2,1977 there already stood 360 large and small crosses on the hill. All kinds of inscriptions can be found there: this one gives thanks for good health, asks assistance for the nation; that one prays for the conversion of those who have strayed. One cross has even been brought from Siberia.
Evidence of the last (November, 1975) wounds of the desecration of crosses can still be seen: The visitor is greeted by protruding metal posts, which are monuments to the hatred of the godless. At the back of the hill can be seen three twisted protruding metal scraps which also were once crosses.
In the center stands a blackened tree stump surrounded by crosses: the remains of the maple cut down by the godless during the last destruction and which had been planted during the years of independence. The tree was cut down, but the roots remain . . .
The atheists did not and will not succeed in uprooting the Faith from the hearts of the people. Once again, next to the stump, a large beautiful cross bearing an old-fashioned metal figure of Christ has "sprouted up." It was fashioned from the trunk of that same maple which was cut down and found (it seems) at the bottom of the hill. It bears the inscription "May 2, 1977. God has ordained thus: If the roots remain, the tree will come up again. The Godless are powerless here!"
Crosses continue to "sprout." On the stone marking the 1863 uprising, someone has also carved a cross. Love is ever inventive!
Žvirgždaičiai R a y o n of Šakiai
On July 4, 1977 a delegation from the Catholic parish in Žvirgždaičiai went to Vilnius and handed Commissioner for Religious Affairs Tumėnas a statement signed by over one hundred of faithful. The statement details the illegal closing of the Žvirgždaičiai house of worship and the destruction of their religious community. The faithful demanded that their violated rights be restored because the community did not violate any law. The liquidation of their community is an offense by the local government against basic human rights.
The Commissioner explained to the delegation on its arrival that their church was closed and the parish disbanded because of illegal church construction in the cemetery. The faithful protested that the local government had driven them from everywhere, even from the parish hall where services were held. They were left without a roof over their heads. Everything was burned down. They then built a wooden shelter in a corner of the cemetery and there for a time prayed. They did not know of laws forbidding such construction because they were not made public at the time.Since ancient times, it has been a custom in Lithuania to build chapels and even churches in cemeteries. The parishioners were simply continuing this tradition. Tumėnas told them to address theRayon authorities on this matter. On July 11, 1977 a six-person delegation went to see Šakiai Rayon Vice-Chairman (Mrs) Donata Noreikienė and had a statement listing their demands. The statement was again signed by over one hundred persons. The Vice-Chairman accepted the statement and stated that when Commisioner K. Tumėnas arrives, they will come to see them and will examine and discuss everything.
The faithful of Žvirgždaičiai are now impatient waiting for the visitors.
Slabadai R a y o n of Vilkaviškis
Commissioner for Religious Affairs K. (azimieras) Tumėnas and Vilkaviškis RayonVice-Chairman J. Urbonas came to Slabadai on June 30, 1977 and examined the renovated chapel. They were met by the faithful. After examining the beautifully restored chapel, Tumėnas demanded to see the church flags: Could they possibly contain some anti-Soviet or nationalist symbols? Those assembled demanded that the parish council be confirmed and the question of taxes be clarified, because the Rayon Vice-Chairman was holding up the payment of taxes with the intention of confiscating the chapel. Commissioner Tumėnas promised the faithful to fill their request within six months.
Vištytis R a y o n of Vilkaviškis
When a priest wishes to visit a neighboring parish in a border zone, he has to see various government agencies; a parish pastor who wishes to ask the assistance of a priest is required to go see the Rayon Executive Committee vice-chiarman in order to receive permission to invite the priest in question. Once he has received oral permission (written permission is never granted), he must return to see the district chairman to have the invitation form signed. Later, the invitation document must be presented to the priest who wishes to attend devotions within a border zone. The priest then takes the said document to the Rayon militia. The militia for its part contacts the security police, the security police in turn contact the vice-chairman and the days later makes a reply.
This torturous road was travelled when permission was sought for the pastor of Kybartai, Father Sigitas Tomkevičius to attend the Portiuncula recollections in Vištytis on August 7, 1977.
When Vištytis pastor Father Montvila went to the Rayon with the request that Father Tomkevičius be allowed to attend the recollections, the Rayon Chairman Juškevičius (Vice-Chairman Urbonas was on vacation) gave his permission. The documents were submitted within the time limit to the militia department.
Ten days later, the pastor of Kybartai, Father Tomkevičius went to the Vilkaviškis militia department and learned that permission would not be granted.
"Why?" asked the pastor.
"We don't know," replied the employees.
An inquiry had to be made to the Security police chief. The latter used many pretexts in explaining his refusal, saying that one assistant priest would be sufficient fo the recollections, that there is much work at Kybartai and so on.
After the recollections, the pastor of Vištytis Father Montvila telephoned Rayon Vice-Chairman Urbonas and asked why he refused permission for the Kybartai pastor to come assist him. The Vice-Chairman replied the same: that the Vištytis recollections are allowed to have only one priest, the Gražiškiai pastor.
"But one is not enough for such recollections, several visiting priests are needed," remarked the pastor.
"I don't know about that, I don't grant permission to the zone. Permission is granted by the Security police," replied the vice-chairman.
Žalioji R a y o n of Vilkaviškis
On June 10, 1977 a "Volga" stopped in front of the former (now converted into a mill) church. From it emerged Commissioner for Religious Affairs K. Tumėnas and Vice-Chairman J. Urbonas of the Vilkaviškis Rayon. They were met by a large crowd of believers, who demanded that their former church be returned to them and the parish committee confirmed. The government officials attempted to convince the faithful that it is more convenient for them to use the local state farm means of transportation to go to other parish churches. The faithful did not agree with this. In their opinion, this is impossible, because the farm director does not even allow the use of cars for funerals.
The energetic parishioners were not persuaded by the officials.
Women (T. Kaminskienė, A. Burauskienė, J. Matulevičienė and others) were especially tenacious in defending church matters. When the visitors saw that the people were growing restless and demands were increasing, and moreover, that the crowd of believers was becoming larger, they promised to confirm the church committee and left.
After Tumėnas and Urbonas had left, the faithful began to be terrorized.
At the end of June 1977, Director Edvardas Adomavičius of the Rumokai Experimental Farm Station summoned head of the tractor pool Zenas Matulevičius and berated him for being a believer, for daring to sign the statement demanding the return of the church and so on. For his courageous defense of his views, Zenas Matulevičius was docked 200 rubles in bonus pay and plans are being made to fire him from his job because believers cannot hold responsible positions.
After the visit of K. Tumėnas, an upheaval began at the former church. Officials of the Rumokai experimental farm were in charge of the mill as authorized by the VilkaviškisRayon authorities. Leftover grain from all farm storehouses was brought in so there would be something to grind.
The Party secretary drew up a list of party members asking that the church building be used as a mill.
Angered by such tactics, the people began to circulate a petition protesting to theRayon the illegal actions of government officials and local atheists.