Top, left, Rev. Vytautas Užkuraitis, stabbed and beaten; right, Rev. Leonas Šapoka, tortured and murdered in October 1980; center left, Aloyzas Volskis, a seminarian expelled for associating with "extremist" priests; right, Algirdas Statkevičius, Lithuanian Helsinki Watch Group member confined in a psychiatric hospital; bottom, left, Julius Sasnauskas, and right, Antanas Terleckas; both were sentenced for anti-Soviet publications.
IN THIS ISSUE:
Impressions from His Excellency Bishop J. Steponavičius's 25th Anniversary Celebration in Vilnius
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
No. 45October 22, 1980
Read and pass on!
Published since 1972
This issue is dedicated to Bishop-in-Exile
celebrating his 25th anniversary
as a bishop this year.
The nation prays for him and wishes
this faithful and staunch Shepherd of the Church
many blessings from God
Vilnius awaits you!
Here is your home,
Here, awaiting your return,
Are your orphaned children.
It is a sad and distressing time for the citizens of Vilnius. It will soon be twenty years since the capital has seen its Shepherd; he is in exile. There is no cathedral, for it has been desecrated. A great number of young people have never seen their bishop; not allof the adults remember him.
Happy news, however, is very quietly being whispered from ear to ear: His Excellency Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius is returning to Vilnius to celebrate his twenty-fifth anniversary as a bishop! The young people went into action. "What would be the best way to meet the bishop?" Some made garlands of oak, others prepared a throne, while still others searched for appropriate flowers. All were united by one thought: to make their Shepherd as welcome as possible. But the buoyant mood did not prevail. Mysteriously, rumors spread: that the bishop's visit must not be publicized too openly because someone opposed it, that a large celebration was not allowed, that church exteriors must not be decorated, that a festive arch of honor must not be erected because there might be trouble for someone. Therefore, on the last Sunday, and with only several days re
The Supreme Court in Vilnius heard the case of Antanas Terleckas and Julius Sasnauskas on September 15-19, 1980. The judge was Ignotas; the councillors were |Mrs.J Burokevičienė and Vinča; the prosecutor was Bakučionis; Terleckas's defense attorney was Kudaba; Sasnauskas's attorney was Aperaitis.
None of the defendants' friends were allowed to come to the court proceedings, and the courtroom held only Chekists and persons with special invitations. For example, Vilnius University Communist Youth League Secretary Bagdonas and others.
On September 15 the indictment was read, charging Terleckas and Sasnauskas with duplicating and disseminating illegal publications and other similar charges, under Article 68, Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR.
Terleckas pleaded not guilty. He denied all the charges brought against him and stated that prior to his interrogation he had not seen the document regarding the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (The Memorandum of 45 Baits — Ed.).
Julius Sasnauskas admitted, among other things, writing many statements, signing the document regarding the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, editing the publication Vytis (Knight [emblem of the Lithuanian state)).
On August 8 and 11, 1980, in Vilnius, the Lithuanian SSR Supreme Court examined the case of Dr. Algirdas Statkevičius, a member of the Lithuanian Helsinki Watch Group. It was an open trial, but no one, other than his wife, security police, and witnesses, was allowed into the courtroom. He was tried in absentia. When people tried to enter the courtroom, the security agent standing at the door wearing a red armband explained that they could not enter because no one was available to take responsibility for admitting them, and he himself knew nothing. Later, when the security agent in charge arrived, he stated that the courtroom was full, though the room was half-empty, and refused to admit anyone. No one was admitted even for the court's ruling. Those who attempted to show that the security agents were wrong in acting this way were intimidated in various ways and threatened. The police arrived, and the people were forced to disperse. The young people who had assembled withdrew a short distance from the doors into the corridor and quietly said the rosary, asking that all be strengthened in love and the executioners-judges be forgiven because they didn't now what they were doing.
The Supreme Court's ruling: forcible commitment of Dr. Algirdas Statkevičius to a special psychiatric hospital. Currently he is at the Chernyakhovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital Prison.
Petras Paulaitis Writes
"About the middle of July I was ordered to sign a statement regarding a confiscated letter from Norway. They did not tell me who had written it and did not show me the letter. They simply ordered me to sign on the other side of the page. They supposedly confiscated the letter because it contained information inconsistent with the truth. The information supposedly was incorrect. What insolent, cynical, hypocrisy! After all, Moscow's censorship scrutinized every word of the letter and considered the information accurate, for they allowed the letter to pass. Now, a distance from Moscow, the censorship of the remote Yavas-Barashevo considers the information inconsistent with the truth — incorrect. Therefore, the letter had to be confiscated without my even seeing it. What can you do if the Russians, especially the Reds, do not want to live without lies, deceit, fraud, and cruelty. In thirty-three years (exactly so on October 30) I have painfully and personally experienced all of this while being confined in their prison-labor camps. Because I fulfilled my obligations to a free and independent homeland and because of my personal sacred beliefs, totally foreign Russian Communists have deprived me of the best and most important part of my life. During those thirty-three years in Russia's Communist 'paradise,' I had to work long and hard, suffer hunger and inhumane misery. Even now 1 can see no end to the monstrous lies and deceit, the cruelty and cynicism against innocent people. But, in any event, nothing here on earth is eternal. I pray for those of my brothers and sisters who have already fallen in the holy battle defending Truth and Justice, and ask God to enlighten me, so that I would be just with everyone and that I would love my homeland Lithuania and its children — the entire younger generation — even more."
In 1980 the Soviet government allowed the theological seminary to admit twenty-two new candidates:
Paulionis, Regimantas (did not arrive)
Tamelis, Bronius (returned after an illness)
Regimantas Paulionis, who had been terrorized by the KGB for a long time (see Vytis, no. 5), did not arrive at the seminary.
The Catholic Committee for the
Defense of Believers' Rights
August 30, 1980 no. 35
"The Second Vatican Council's decree 'Optatem totius' declared that'priests will consider the seminary the heart of the diocese and will willingly assist it to the best of their ability.' Therefore, the concern of all Lithuanian bishops and priests for their only theological seminary, in Kaunas, is understandable. Recent events at the seminary force everyone to become even more concerned about its future.
"Recently the news has reached Lithuania's priests that Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis has ordered the fourth-year seminarian Aloyzas Volskis expelled from the seminary. He is charged with associating with 'extremist priests' during his vacation. What is angering everyone the most in regard to this incident is the commissioner's determination to have the seminary administration itself expel the seminarian. Seminarians and zealous priests are being blackmailed by government atheists with seminarian Volskis's expulsion. Their behavior not only goes beyond the permissible bounds of Soviet law but also beyond humaneness. Lithuania's priests justly ask, 'Does the commissioner have the legal and moral right to so crudely interfere in the theological seminary's internal affairs? and What would be the worth of the seminary, if in submitting to unlawful force, it begins to expel those seminarians in whom the Church places the greatest hope?' If the seminarian actually violated Soviet laws there are prosecutors and courts to handle it. But we can never agree to have the prosecutor's work carried out, unofficially, by the Religious Affairs Commissioner, who because he fears to leave traces of his offenses, compels the seminary rector and the Ordinaries to become accomplices in his crimes.
On the night of October 10-11, 1980, Father Leonas Šapoka, the pastor of Luokė, Diocese of Telšiai, was brutally murdered.
At about 1 a.m. on that night, unknown murderers broke into the rectory through a vestibule. They broke down the pastor's bedroom door and, holding lighted flashlights in their hands, fell upon the sleeping pastor. They punched him in the chest and the face and struck down with a blow to the head the elderly housekeeper, who had come running. The killers took the housekeeper to the kitchen of a second apartment in the house. Another elderly woman was brought down from the second floor. Both were forced to kneel by the stove. One intruder guarded them, while the other went back. The women heard the pastor's moans for a long time. Later they were led into a bathroom. An elderly man who also lived in the house was brought there as well. He had been beaten about the head. They were locked in the windowless bathroom.
The murdered pastor was tortured for approximately five hours. According to expert testimony, all of the murdered man's muscles were severely battered and hemorrhaging. The following morning the body was discovered on the bedroom floor. His bloodied head was covered with a pillow, and his body was covered with a blanket.
An old hat and a large amount of money were found on the stairs. Apparently the killers were not as interested in the money as in sadistically enjoying torturing the pastor.
In May 1980 Father Vladas Bobinas, the pastor of Krosna, who had signed the Memorandum of 45 Baits regarding the abrogation of the consequences of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, was summoned to the Vilnius KGB headquarters for interrogation. Interrogator Markevičius maintained that since the priest had not seen the original copy of the pact, he had no right to sign the memorandum. The Chekist tried to persuade Father Bobinas not to sign such documents in the future.
In May 1980 Father Napoleonas Norkūnas, pastor of Rieškutėnai parish, was summoned to the Vilnius KGB headquarters. Interrogator Pilelis questioned the priest as to whether he had signed the Memorandum of 45 Baits. The priest explained that he had not signed it and that his name appears on the memorandum only by mistake (Father Norkūnas actually had not signed the memorandum — Ed.)
Interrogator Pilelis maintained that the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is published by Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, and that he is supplied with information on the Vilnius Diocese by Fathers Kazimieras Žemėnas, Algimantas Keina, and Bronius Laurinavičius.
On July 9, 1980, despite the bad weather, large crowds of people flocked to Žemaičių Kalvarija. The shrine could not hold everyone who assembled, and some had to pray outside in the churchyard during the pouring rain. A mass was concelebrated by ninety-five priests, the majority from the Diocese of Telšiai and several from other dioceses. The people had come to make vows of temperance. A sermon on the importance of temperance and the disastrous effects of alcohol was given by the administrator of the Diocese of Telšiai, Father Antanas Vaičius. He urged everyone to pledge to do without alcohol or, at the very least, to drink in moderation.
Following the sermon, the priests read a vow of temperance-abstinence. Each of the faithful who made pledges received commemorative picture cards; 4,100 of them were distributed. During mass 3,700 received Holy Communion.
Following the mass, Msgr. Kazimieras Gasčiūnas, the dean of Mažeikiai, preached a fiery sermon. Inspired by his words, a large number of believers were moved to pledge to save Lithuania from the rising tide of alcohol and from the fatal spiritual vacuum produced by atheism, because this vacuum is most often filled with alcohol. The enthusiasm was so great that, following the sermon and despite the crowding and extreme mugginess, almost everyone stayed for the long devotions of the Stations of the Cross (due to the foul weather it was impossible to walk from station to station in the hills).
On October 3, 1980, Andrius Tučkus, a first-year psychology student in the history department of Vilnius State University, who with his friends had helped out on a collective farm near Kėdainiai, was summoned by B. Sudavičius, university prorector for academic matters, who was temporarily acting as rector. When the youth presented himself, he was greeted with, "So, you're a believer? Maybe you even wear something holy around your neck?" "Why is it wrong for me to be a believer? The Soviet Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience," replied the student boldly. "You can seek freedom of conscience elsewhere but not here at the university," Sudavičius arrogantly replied. Tučkus was immediately read a letter signed by the rector stating that for actions and beliefs incompatible with the morals of a Soviet student, for signing slanderous documents, for anti-Soviet activity, for "indecent" behavior at Sasnauskas's and Terleckas's trial, it had been decided to expel him from the university. Being aware of who makes the decisions in our society, Tučkus telephoned the security police and asked them to explain why he was being expelled from the university. The call was taken by Second Lt. A. Bimbyris, who did not try to explain and connected him with Lt. Col. Baltinas. He arrogantly confirmed, "We are expelling you!" but yet had enough "political sense" not to include the youth's religious convictions among the reasons for the expulsion. Baltinas promised to "allow" him to study psychology the following year if he withdrew from all activities and renounced his friendship with the nationalists.
On june 11,1980, the Executive Committee of Ščiučinas Rayon warned the chairman of the parish council that they would be fined up to 100 rubles for permitting children to participate in processions and serve at mass. Pastors would also be similarly punished.
In Ščiučinas Rayon one of the most beautiful of Byelorussia's churches has been shut down in Senosios Vosyliskes for several years now. The people have the key, and on Sundays they assemble to pray. Kazimieras Markievic was fined fifty rubles because he read the Gospel several times this year!
The following priests were fined fifty rubles each for permitting children to serve at mass and participate in a procession: Juzief Grasievič, Antonij Chanko, Zanevskij, the pastor of Astravas, the pastor of Semetovscyzna. The pastor of Astravas was fined fifty rubles merely because a schoolboy assisted him at mass on Easter Sunday.
1. Aušra (Dawn), no. 22 (62). This issue appeared in May.
2. Dievas ir Tėvynė (God and country), nos. 15, 16, 17.
3. Vytis (Knight [emblem of the Lithuanian state]), no. 5.
This issue presents the statement-confession of Regiman tas Paulionis, a young man who reveals the KGB traps into
which some of Lithuania's youth have fallen.
Fellow Lithuanian, Do Not Forget!
Petras Plumpa (Chistopol prison), Petras Paulaitis (Mordoviya), Sergei Kovalev (Mordoviya), Viktoras Petkus (Perm Region), Balys Gajauskas (Mordoviya), Vladas Lapienis (exiled to Teya), Algirdas Statkevičius (Chernyiakhovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital-Prison), Antanas Terleckas (tried, address still unknown), Julius Sasnauskas (tried, address still unknown), Povilas Pečeliūnas (awaiting trial), Vytautas Skuodis (awaiting trial), Anastazas Janulis (awaiting trial), Povilas Buzas (awaiting trial), [Miss] Genovaite Navickaitė (awaiting trial), [Miss] Ona Vitkauskaitė (awaiting trial), [Miss] Jadvyga-Gemma Stanelytė (awaiting trial), and others are enduring the yoke of bondage in order that you may live and believe in freedom.