After the death of Bishop Juozas Matulaitis-Labukas, Bishop Liudas Povilonis became apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis. Many priests and faithful, having heard the courageous words of Bishop Povilonis's sermons, hoped that upon taking possession of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Kaunas he would start in the history of the Lithuanian Catholic Church a bright new page and stop the defeatist policy of the Ordinaries.
The Soviet government, which appoints only those Ordinaries who carry out its intentions, placed pressure on Bishop Povilonis and probably threatened to prevent him from assuming his duties as a diocesan shepherd. He, over a period of a few months, made many extremely painful decisions. Among the priests who were elevated to a higher office were KGB collaborators and those who had compromised themselves in the eyes of the faithful, who lacked priestly spirit and were more comfortable sitting at a banquet table than participating in the struggle for the Church's survival.
The appointments have already managed to dissipate the priests' hopes; it is clear to all that they are a capitulation to the KGB and to the Council for Religious Affairs. The Chronicle does not presume to condemn, for it is aware of all the circumstances under which Lithuanian Ordinaries work to govern their dioceses; however, it joins the entire clergy and community of believers in mourning the fact that today Lithuania has no Valancius or Matulionis when again the need for them is so great. Especially since such favorable conditions for gaining the Church at least the minimum rights have not existed before.
Instead of hope there is fear that even now Lithuania's Ordinaries will go on pursuing Canon J. Steponavičius's and Bishop Labukas's policies of fear and appeasement. God grant that this does not happen!
N.B. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church inLithuania is especially reluctant to report incidents of a distressing nature in the life of the Lithuanian Catholic Church. It considers this a necessary task, however, though painful. Some people claim that the Chronicle is, in this way, undermining the authority of the clergy and consequently harming the Church. The Chronicle considers such objections to be shortsighted, for it remembers the fate of the Russian Orthodox Church. As soon as Rusian Orthodox clergymen became collaborators of the Soviet government, they lost all authority and influence among their faithful. Surely, we don't have to wait until this happens in Lithuania? Surely, the Lithuanian Catholic Church must not become the submissive handmaiden of the Soviet government?