Copies to: The Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of Lithuania;
The Kaunas Theological Seminary;
The Catholic Committee for the Defense of the
Rights of Believers.
At the end of 1977, fourth-year seminarian Ričardas Jakutis was expelled from the Kaunas Theological Seminary. A committee headed by the rector of the seminary was formed to investigate his case. On December 20, 1977 the rector publicly announced the findings, to be more accurate, the facts of seminarian Jakutis' immoral behavior. The facts were confirmed by (Mrs) Šorienė in her letter to the seminary rector and by (Miss) Činskytė in her statement to the bishops and diocesan administrators of Lithuania. Seminarian Jakutis did not deny the charges—he admitted his guilt.
Suddenly, we heard unexpected news: Jakutis has been secretly ordained deacon and is functioning as a deacon at the church of Nemenčinė.
On February 6, 1979 Father A.(lfonsas) Svarinskas, at the urging of the faithful, visited Bishop Labukas to inquire who had ordained Jakutis deacon. The bishop did not deny the fact, but claimed he did not know who had ordained him: perhaps the bishops of Belo-russia or the Ukraine . . . On February 7, 1979 the Rev. A. Gutauskas, administrator of the Vilnius archdiocese, told a large group of priests from the Archdiocese of Vilnius, who came to see him about Jakutis, Kazlauskas and his own sudden election to the position of administrator: "Jakutis was ordained by Bishop Labukas."
How should the behavior of the Rev. Č. Krivaitis, administrator of the Vilnius archdiocese, be interpreted, what forces inspired him to continue to consider the immoral young man expelled from the seminary a good seminarian? On January 11, 1978 during a meeting at the Seminary, he demanded that Jakutis be readmitted to the Seminary as unjustly slandered; he made the expelled seminarian his protege, found him a place to stay in Nemenčinė with the Rev. K. Pukėnas, provided him with material support and even presented him to the ordaining Bishop as a suitable and serious candidate. Moreover, everyone is amazed at Jakutis' strange attitude.
He did not act like someone ousted from the seminary, but like a good seminarian, sent by Vilnius archdiocesan administrator Krivaitis to Father Pukėnas in Nemenčinė "to carry out liturgical training."
A strange incident provides an obviously accurate answer to all these questions. Officials of the civil government became concerned over Jakutis' fate. They even visited witnesses to his offenses (for example, Mrs. Šorienė) and demanded that they recant their compromising testimony. In other words, the civil government considered him one of theirs. Willingly or not, we come to a strange conclusion: Father Krivaitis, Father Pukėnas, the bishop who ordained Jakutis and representatives of the civil government worked hand in hand to ordain the young man, who was unfit for the priesthood, deacon.
A second, no less unexpected event was the abrupt read-mission of seminarian Algis Kazlauskas to the seminary. In 1977, the seminary administration severely warned him to mend his ways, and in the fall of 1978 it decided during a meeting of Seminary instructors to expel him from the seminary as unfit for the priesthood. Father Krivaitis, then administrator of the Vilnius archdiocese, objected to this decision. He changed the expulsion decision: he gave Kazlauskas time to mend his ways and allowed him a one-year academic leave of absence. With complete disregard to the Vatican II decree on the training of priests, which requires that "in selecting and reviewing candidates, the standards must always be most demanding, even if a great shortage of priests exists ...", several months later, i.e., in the middle of January 1979, Kazlauskas was readmitted to the Seminary.
During the Soviet era, a large number of good seminarians have been expelled from the Seminary at the demand of the civil government. Some of them waited as much as ten or more years for permission to return. Examples are J. Čepėnas, Father J. Giedraitis, Father A. Graužinis, Father J. Zubrus, Father V. Rūkas and others. Kazlauskas could not even wait out the year! It took him only several months to "change" his character, culture, temperament, vanity. Everyone knows that man is not a thing that can be altered quickly. The canons of the Catholic Church also foresee a person changing, but demands a long time to accomplish this (canon 2295).
The Seminary justifies its actions by claiming that the true masters of the Seminary are the Ordinaries and not they. Kazlauskas was readmitted at the demand of Bishop L. Povilonis. Moreover, the bishop is working on having other seminarians who were expelled from the Seminary as unfit for the priesthood readmitted: A. Paškevičius and K. Mangevičius.
On January 8, 1979 several priests of the Vilnius Archdiocese, impressed by Kazlauskas' intelligence, appealed to Bishop Povilonis to readmit Kazlauskas to the seminary. Does a candidate for the priesthood need only intelligence? On the other hand, who knows Jakutis and Kazlauskas best, we who lived with them at the seminary or those who meet them only occasionally on display? We feel that all seminarians who have not made deals with the security police would speak out against them if they did not fear expulsion from the seminary. Moreover, Kazlauskas' readmission proves the seminary officials' lack the principles, their view of sacred things from between their fingers. They act contrary to their convictions: They first decide he is unfit, then readmit him.
In March 1978, ath the demand of civil government officials, Seminary authorities expelled from the seminary two good seminarians who had broken neither Seminary regulations nor Church canons: Vytautas Pūkas and Petras Blažukas. After comparing their fate with that of Jakutis and Kazlauskas we can clearly see who compels the seminary to alter its decisions so abruptly.
What does all this mean? Jakutis and Kazlauskas were expelled from the seminary as unfit for the priesthood, but Father Krivaitis, administrator of the Vilnius archdiocese, continued to consider them good seminarians; certain priests, for example Father Pukė-nas and Vaičionis, took them under their wing; the Vilnius Chancery gave them material support, they wore cassocks, served at the altar. Jakutis was even ordained deacon, while Kazlauskas was readmitted to the seminary, prior to the end of his "academic leave of absence," to the same class his friends now attend.
On the other hand, at the demand of the state security police, the expelled seminarians are protected by neither the Seminary, the Ordinaries, nor the chancery. Blažukas does not even have the hope that the Religious Affairs Commissioner will some day allow him to return to the seminary. How ironic! Those others encounter no obstacles from the seminary or the civil government, while Blažukas faces the most insurmountable barriers.
Do we need clearer proof that the seminary, certain bishops and diocesan administrators and certain priests bow to the interests of the civil government? With their help, in addition to good seminarians, the atheists are training so called "loyal priests" who cater to them and compromise to Church. This fact will not be concealed from the world by either the rector Dr. V. Butkus or by other high Catholic Church officials in Lithuania who grant deceitful interviews to foreign newspapers and radios: they maintain it is not state officials, but they who control the Seminary. When we entered the Seminary and studied there, we personally felt the heavy hand of the state security police. We can therefore now attest to the fact that the state security police has great influence on the Kaunas Theological Seminary.
Everyone understands and sees the atheists' desire to destroy the Church by the hand of her own children, to compromise her, disturb her internal life, divide the unity of her priests. However, how must we understand and justify the behavior of their tools— certain priests and even bishops—which contradicts both Church canons and the decrees of the Second Vatican Council? We view Jakutis' ordination and Kazlauskas' readmission to the Seminary as direct acts of undermining the Church.
Here a historical fact reluctantly comes to mind: the Nuremberg trials which accused persons of causing rivers of blood and tears. Although they all justified themselves with "We were ordered," "ordered from above", but the court condemned them, confirming that over and above the law, there exists every individual's personal decision and resposibility.
The Nuremberg trials are over, but the trial of history continues. It is likely that the so-called sons of the Church loyal to the civil government will be stood at the pillar of shame. Their high positions or the titles they hold will not gain them any protection against this. And in the Lord's court, it is doubtful the excuse "We were ordered" will suffice.
Dear Lithuanian, noble Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius! Today our gaze turns only toward you and Bishop Sladkevičius. You are our nation's pride and hope. We understand and commiserate with you. Your lot is heavy. You are an exile. At this time you are not allowed to administer the diocese, but the real master of the Vilnius archdiocese is not administrator Gutauskas, but you. In the realm of spiritual church activity, you have the same power and right as bishops who hold offi.e. You therefore share with them the great responsibility not only for the Vilnius Archdiocese entrusted to you by the Vatican, but also for the fate of the entire Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Because Jakutis and Kazlauskas belong to the Vilnius Archdiocese, we appeal to you on behalf of all priests and believers who love the Church and ask that you forbid Jakutis to perform the duties of deacon, not only in the church of Nemenčinė but throughout the Vilnius Archdiocese, because ever new stories of his escapades flow from Telšiai, and prevent Kazlauskas from being ordained until you are morally convinced of his sincere reform.
Lithuania, February 1979
Lithuanian priests who know R. Jakutis and A. Kazlauskas: A. Beniušis, R. Černiauskas, M. Savickas, A. Čeponis, J. Alesius, P. Merliūnas, P. Šliauteris, S. Lindė, J. Kauneckas, S. Tamulionis,
Priests who only know R. Jakutis; F. Baliūnas, K. Daknevičius, V. Beržinis, A. Bulota, E. Bartulis, V. Stakevičius, J. Maleckis, J. Pečiukonis, V. Kapočius, S. Puidokas.
(The open letter has been abbreviated. — Ed.)