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Appearing since 1972.
In this issue:
Lithuania August 15, 1978
A radio broadcast at 6:00 P.M. on August 6, 1978 brought to our Fatherland the sad news of Pope Paul VI's death.
Though living behind the Iron Curtain, we, the Catholics of Lithuania, are well acquainted with this great giant of the Christian spirit, this zealous and courageous defender of God's affairs in this stormy era of intellectual and spiritual crisis. The late pope's
Easter greeting in Lithuanian "Su šventomis Velykomis" (A blessed Easter) still rings in our hearts. We are eternally grateful to Paul VI for allowing the Martyrs' Chapel to be established under St. Peter's Basilica and blessing the Blessed Mother's picture. The missals and breviaries given us by Pope Paul VI continually remind us of his fatherly concern.
The Catholics of Lithuania pray for the deceased Vicar of Christ and believe that he will be a zealous advocate of the Church in heaven.
The trial of Viktoras Petkus began on July 10, 1978. From the very first day of the trial, a painstaking orchestration of the trial spectacle could be sensed. When the indictment was read on July 10th, Estonians and Latvians—i.e., those witnesses who do not known or understand Lithuania—were summoned and allowed into the courtroom. They only saw that Petkus was forcibly dragged by four militiamen into the courtroom, with his arms pinned back. At the trial, he declared his innocence and refused the services of a lawyer. During the rest of the trial, Petkus blatantly ignored the proceedings, refusing to answer any questions, defend himself or explain, and calmly dozing.
The first session of the trial lasted one and a half hours and court was adjourned until July 11th.
On July 11th, a large group of Petkus' friends and supporters came to the Supreme Court in Vilnius, but were not allowed into the courtroom. The security agent stationed at the courtroom door told each individual wishing to attend the trial that '"there was no room."
The first to be admitted nuu me courtroom were witnesses Rev. K.(arolis) Garuckas, O.(na) Lukauskaitė-Poškienė and R. Ragaišis. To their surprise, they saw the courtroom already full of strange characters although the doors had been locked until they were admitted. After glancing around the room, Ms. Lukauskaitė-Poškienė (member of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group) loudly asked Father Garuckas (also a member of the Helsinki Group):
"Are they all witnesses? Maybe they're members of the press. Oh no! They are apparently privileged guests."
Vladas Lapienis writes:
"With the onset of warm weather, we are annoyingly attacked by hordes of mosquitoes. They attack outdoors, in the barracks, in the messhall; i.e., while we work, rest or eat. As soon as the doors are opened, they unnoticeably enter the building. There are several garden beds near the barracks. One time I saw the prisoner Paulaitis pulling up weeds with a bonfire lit next to him and was surrounded by clouds of drifting smoke. Mosquitoes do not like smoke and in this way we afford ourselves some protection from them . . .
"Good prayer is an extraordinarily powerful weapon, a never exhaustible treasure, the source of all treasure and our best teacher . . .
"Depriving many people of spiritual and physical freedom for the benefit of one or more persons is a great crime against natural law . . ."
"Once one becomes a prisoner (especially during interrogations) it becomes necessary to make quick decisions, there is no possibility to consult, to calmly reflect. There remains but one possibility—to obey the voice of one's conscience. Truly unfortunate later is the man who goes against his conscience under such circumstances.
The June 28, 1978 issue of Tiesa (Truth) printed a long article entitled "Slander from the Pulpit." It accuses the Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas, pastor of Viduklė, of slandering schools, the current way of life and harming youth by presenting former "criminals" as heroes.
After this article appeared in print, Fr. Svarinskas preached a sermon at the Viduklė church explaining to the faithful who the real slanderers and criminals are.
Fr. Svarinskas has received many letters written by both KGB collaborators and decent Catholics. It is interesting to note that not a single KGB collaborator had the courage to sign his name to his letter.
We are reprinting below a letter of protest from the faithful of Viduklė:
To: First Secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party,
Petras Griškevičius, in Vilnius. A Protest from: The Believers of the Viduklė Roman Catholic parish.
Issue No. 149 of Tiesa dated June 28, 1978 contained an article entitled "Slander from the Pulpit" by special correspondent Vytautas Žeimantas. This slander against our pastor, the Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas, was reprinted by the Raseiniai and Šiauliai Rayon newspapers.
1) Thoughts from the Fourth LSSR Teachers Convention.
In a speech delivered on June 7, 1978 at the Fourth LSSR Teachers Convention, held in Vilnius, LSSR Education Minister A. Rimkus spoke of instilling the "noble sentiments of Soviet patriotism, friendship of nations and proletarian internationalism" in Lithuania's School children and rejoiced that "we already have 98 mixed schools which educate 53,500 students, or one tenth of the students who attend general education schools." The speaker further noted that "a significant influence in educating the school population in the spirit of the friendship of nations and Soviet patriotism is exerted by the socialist competition of Lithuania and Soviet Belo-russia.
If we are to recall how Lithuanian children have been treated for the past 34 years in Belorussia, not even allowed to learn their native
Lithuanian language in grade schools, if we were to count over that long period how many new people there are in Belorussia who no longer know their native Lithuanian language and if we were to consider all of this, in Rimkus' words, "a significant influence", it is not difficult to understand what is hidden behind the ringing words of Soviet patriotism, friendship of nations and proletarian internationalism, and is brutally infiltrating the souls, hearts and minds of Lithuanian children.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania has reported that, while still studying at the Seminary, the Rev. J. Alesius had no peace while on vacation in the Rayon of Lazdijai because he was continually harassed by KGB employees—Lazdijai KGB Chief Žemaitis and a security agent from Vilnius.
While serving as assistant pastor at the Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Šiauliai, Rev. Alesius was summoned on January 11, 1978 to the Šiauliai Military Commissariat, supposedly to verify his military status. A security agent waited for him at the Commissariat and introduced himself as Romas Pietaris:
"Greetings from Šiaudinis from Vilnius."
"I know no Šiaudinis."
"You spoke with him in Lazdijai, he is from the Vilnius Security Police. We will now begin meeting again. We will indicate to you what you must report to us."
"No, I don't intend meeting with you, because I don't get involved in politics."
"The Rev. Svarinskas also claims he does not get involved . . ."
In April 1977, Kuršėnai Middle School llth-grade student Petras Vozbutas died in the village of Šilkalniai. The parents decided to bury their son with church rites. The colleagues of the deceased's mother—teacher Vanda Vozbutienė— began to stir, to react:
"What are you doing? You are shaming the Varputėnai school.. ."
Principal Juozas Baraška was furious, head of academics, Vanda Grybauskienė, was even more upset. They said:
"We won't forgive you for this!"
Teacher Vozbutienė was in fact terrorized in various ways, threatened and left the school after she became unable to bear the ag-gresive behavior of her colleagues.
It should be noted that in similar instances, not only do fanatical teachers display hostility, but so do others who fear to incur the displeasure of the education department and the party committee.
On July 18, 1978 employees of the Lithuanian SSR Ministry of Culture noticed long-time ministry employee Henrikas Lanzbergas pacing nervously. No one could guess the reason. Only when the director of the science-metholology office arrived at the ministry, did the employees learn of the terrible event: an employee of that same department, 21-year-old Renata Gavrilenkaite had hung herself at the door of her lover Henrikas Landzbergas. The lover, it seems, did not even dare remove the rope for fear of leaving his fingerprints. And shortly ministry employees found a suicide letter in the deceased's office . . .
Landzbergas has lived in the Ministry of Culture building for many years. And this was not the first year that the shreiks of women were heard doming from his room. Rumors about the personal "escapades" of this dissolute man spread beyond the ministry, but this did not disturb even the office's management.
Perhaps it is useless to talk about the morals of Landzbergas, but let us see who his latest (and perhaps not last?) victim was.
Let the deceased speak for herself. In her suicide letter Renata writes that "the eyes of the murdered infant" would give her no peace ... In other words, the murder of infants legalized by Soviet morality had not yet succeeded in completely silencing the voice of conscience in the young woman. She had worked too short a time at the Ministry of Culture where such thorough efforts are made to instill atheist morality and fight against "religious superstition" . . .
The Kishinev chapel is tiny and the only haven for Catholics in Moldavia. On Sundays and holydays it overflows with people who faint from the poor ventilation and crush. First aid must often be summoned. However after coming several times, it refused to render assistance. One time, when called, it replied as follows:
"You pray to God, let God heal you!"
People from all over Moldavia gather there to pray. People travel by bus with transfers for 100-200 kms. (60-120 miles) and upon arriving cannot make their confession because one priest is not capable of ministering to all the Catholics of Moldavia. The faithful have often appealed to Religious Affairs Commissioner Vikonski asking permission for at least one more Catholic priest to work in Moldavia. The Commissioner did not even want to hear of it, for supposedly the Soviet government has a great deal of trouble with that one priest. What would happen if Moldavia had two priests ?
Aušra (The Dawn) No. 11/51. This issue contains a detailed account of the kangaroo trial of Balys Gajauskas in Vilnius. It contains much information of the 30-year suffering of political prisoner P. Paulaitis in the Gulag. The issue is dedicated to Gajauskas and Paulaitis.
Dievas ir Tėvynė (God and Country) No. 8. This issue contains several articles which are truly worthy of attention: "Betrayal" and "Soviet Constitution—Shame of the Era."
The article "Betrayal" writes: "It is suggested that all betrayer-priests who have not yet lost their faith, send forthwith statements to the security police categorically refusing such collaboration."
FELLOW LITHUANIANS, DON'T FORGET!
P. (etras) Plumpa, N.(ijolė) Sadūnaitė, S.(ergei) Kovalev, O.(na) Pranskūnaitė, V.(ladas) Lapietis, B.(alys) Gajauskas, V.(iktoras) Petkus and others who bear the shackles of prison so that you might freely live and believe!