A PETITION FROM THE PARENTS FROM
THE PARISH IN ADUTIŠKIS
On April 20, 1972, fathers and mothers from the parish in Adutiškis appealed to the Soviet government. The complete text of the petition is presented below:
"To: Comrade L. Brezhnev, the General-Secretaryof the CPSU
Comrade Furceva, the Minister of PublicEducation of the USSR
Comrade Kuroyedov, the Chairman of the
Council for Religious Affairs
A Declaration—Petition by the Fathers-Mothers
of the Roman Catholic Parish in Adutiškis,
Švenčionys Rayon, the LSSR
"Very often we and our children experience difficulties just because we are believers.
"In 1971 the administration of the secondary school in Adutiškis banished our children from the altar. This year, they created a great uproar because some children went up to the choir loft to sing with everyone else. Lately they have created a great uproar because our children wear white garments.
"The interrogation of our children and our "re-education" tax our health and that of our children. Sometimes it even ends in tragedy. One mother, Aleksandra Stasiūnienė, residing in Adutiškis, was called in to the school because her son Julijus goes to church. After the meeting in the school on April 7, 1972, she was so aggravated and agitated that shortly she was stricken and died on April 9, 1972. How haggard she had looked when she came out of the school can be attested to by [Mrs.] Birutė Juknienė, residing in Adutiškis, who had spoken with her.
"[Miss] M. Skrickaitė, a pupil who is very quiet and polite, received a grade of four in conduct. Her mother inquired for which offense the conduct grade had been lowered. She received the reply: "She got a four in conduct because she goes to church."
"Hoping to request that those who disturb our and our children's peace and interfere with matters of conscience be restrained, we contacted the Education Department of Švenčionys Rayon on April 13, 1972. We were informed that the affairs of the faithful are administered by Comrade Sauliūnas, the vice-chairman of the rayon Executive Committee. The vice-chairman did not want to speak with us, even though we had gone to see him during office hours when he was in. Comrade Sauliūnas told us that up to the age of eighteen children do not have the right to take part in religious rites. If so, then why do children participate in all sorts of outdoor demonstrations, for example, during the May Day and October holidays? If the children may not dress in white garments, then why are red kerchiefs tied on them? If one may not pin a cross, which he loves, on a child, then why are stars pinned on them? Why are they enrolled in the Little Octobrists, the Pioneers, and the Young Communist League and taught to lie to their parents? Why are children forbidden to utter "Jesus, I love You" in church, when cursing and reviling are not prohibited as strictly?
"We, the parents, are responsible before God and society for the upbringing of our children. Experience has proved that Soviet schools can teach children only to read and write, but as to educating them how they should live —they are incapable. A few facts follow. A couple of years ago Kazlauskas, a student from the secondary school in Adutiškis, left home for school, but he never got to school; instead he hanged himself. Jasiulionis, a former student from the secondary school in Adutiškis, has stolen and tends to beat his mother. Former student Jukna was publicly tried for assaulting and robbing a soldier in 1970. [Miss] Trečiokaitė, who was fifteen-sixteen years old and a schoolgirl of the eight-year school in Svirkos, went to "spend the night" with the locality's chairman, who was much older than she.
"Therefore, the school ought to pay more attention to children who commit immoral and criminal offenses, and not to ours, who do no wrong.
"We kindly ask you to instruct the appropriate agencies and the administration of the secondary school in Adutiškis, that they should not interfere with our children so that they could be members with equal rights of both the school and the Church, so that they might go without fear to listen to the teachings of the Church, which are as essential to man as daily bread. We want our cildren to hear, not only the truths of the atheists, but also to know the true God and the Church which He founded.
"It is understandable that [Mrs.] A. Stasiūnienė died before her time defending her own rights and those of her child. Do not think that we shall fear death or cease defending our children's rights. No!
"We request freedom of conscience for our children, basing our request on Article 124 of the Constitution of the Soviet Union, which guarantees to all citizens the freedom of conscience.
April 20, 1972"
This petition was signed by eighteen fathers and mothers.
On July 13, 1972, "the twenty" from the parish in Adutiškis were summoned to the locality's administrative office. V. Sauliūnas, vice-chairman of the Švenčionys RayonExecutive Committee, spoke to them:
"Comrades, we have invited you here to explain what is permissible for believers ... You are allowed one priest, an organist, a sacristan, and a bell-ringer. You cannot have a curate since there are not enough priests. Everything must be managed by the parochial committee. The priest may not collect contributions, but only the treasurer...
"Children are forbidden to serve the priest at mass, to participate in processions, to scatter flowers; children are not permitted to say together with the priest 'Jesus, I love You!'; children may not sing hymns in the choir loft or be taught hymns...
"Explain to the priest what is permissible to him: to say mass, to visit someone who is ill, to participate in a funeral procession that begins at the church. A priest is forbidden, however, to participate in a funeral procession that begins at the home of the deceased or to pray in the homes of believers. Tell the priest to direct his people not to sing hymns as they walk in a funeral procession. A priest may not prepare children for their First Communion but can only test them..."
V. Sauliūnas asked the men of the parish:
"Who gave you permission to build a cross in the churchyard? Who let you repair the churchyard fence? You didn't ask anyone."
"I had come to see you," spoke Bičelis, a member of the parochial committee. "I asked for bricks and cement, but you replied: 'There are none for the church. We lack materials for construction projects.'"
During the entire conversation, the bearing of the people from the parish was courageous. Povilas Burokas even pulled out from his pocket a copy of the USSR Constitution and was preparing to read to V. Sauliūnas about the freedom of conscience, but the representative of the government did not let him.
The chairman of the locality presented "the twenty" with a statement to sign which indicated that children in the parish serve mass, strew flowers, sing in the choir, etc. No one signed.