On May 30, 1979, the pastor of the Kirdeikiai parish, Father P. Kražauskas, sent a statement signed by 267 believers of the Kirdeikiai parish to His Excellency Bishop Sladkevičius, Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Kaišiadorys, ragarding the especially blatant interference of the atheist government in the parish's internal affairs. The statement reads as follows:
On May 13, 1979, the new executive committee of the Kirdeikiai church was elected under the direction of Vice Chairman Labanauskas of the Utena Rayon Executive Committee and Chairman Šapranauskas of the Saldutiškis district. This is how it happened:
On May 6, 1979, Chairman Šapranauskas of the Saldutiškis District posted the following notice on the doors of the church: "Attention, believers of the Kirdeikiai Parish! Immediately following services at 2:15 P.M. on May 13th, a meeting of the believing community will be held in the middle school auditorium. On the agenda: election of a new church committee. Chairman of the Saldutiškis District Council of People's Deputies, A. Šapranauskas."
Since I had the resignation of the church committee chairman (he is elderly and ailing) and was aware of the existing situation and the atheists' aims as well, I called a meeting of the Kirdeikiai church committee members on May 9th.
On the basis of Canon 1183 and the regulations of the Lithuanian Synod of Bishops, I assumed the position of church committee chairman. All the church committee members were present when I assumed this position. The minutes concerning the formation of the church committee were sent to Vice Chairman Labanauskas of the Utėna Rayon Executive Committee Council of People's Deputies.
Announcements (of the upcoming meeting — Ed. note) appeared on May 11, 1979 at the store, the school and all farm sections.
At 2:15 P.M. on May 13th the said meeting was held in the middle school auditorium, chaired by Vice Chairman Labanauskas. He explained the Constitution to the audience, he stated that everyone is guaranteed freedom of conscience and that the state does not interfere in Church affairs. Afterwards, he read anonymous letters about the pastor. He then announced that a new church committee would be elected. The people attending the meeting stated that a church com-mitte had already been elected on May 9th and it was headed by the local pastor. The people of Kirdeikiai refused to have the godless interfere in internal Church affairs and left the auditorium.
Despite the opposition of the faithful, a Soviet committee was appointed under Labanauskas' direction.
We declare that we will never consent to have atheist-appointed committees rule the Church and destroy her from within.
(The statement has been abridged — Ed. note).