Top, The Hill of Crosses in 1982;
bottom, The exiled bishops, left, Julijonas Steponavičius, and right, Vincentas Sladkevičius.
IN THIS ISSUE:
The Holy Father's Message of Congratulations to Bishop Steponavičius
Searches and Interrogations
Hooliganism in the Soviet Press
A Letter from the Telšiai Priests Council
The Religious Affairs Commissioner Instructs the Parish Councils
The Persecution of Petras Cidzikas
News from the Dioceses
In the Soviet School
The Church in Other Soviet Republics
New Underground Publications
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
No. 47 March 19, 1981
Read and pass on!
Published since 1972
"As the joyous twenty-fifth anniversary of your assumption to the honorable ministry of bishop approaches, we send you this letter with great spiritual joy and goodwill.
"Indeed, as we write, our spirit soars and leans toward you, Reverend Brother, towards the distant land of Lithuania, towards the famed Lithuanian nation, which is so dear to us and which the Holy See holds in especially high regard because of its Christian faith, to the land where you were born, where you have lived to date, and still are living. It seems to us, as we write this letter, that we are with you, talking and celebrating the approaching joyous occasion.
"Therefore, may we extend our most sincere and heartfelt yearnings and our best wishes. May we also express to you, from the bottom of our heart, well-deserved respect for your pure faith, pastoral zeal, spiritual and intellectual attributes, and the notable merits you have earned by nobly and conscientiously fulfilling the duties of your holy ministry by attending to the salvation of men's souls. You have spent nearly your entire life preparing for this holy ministry and fulfilling it with zeal, following in the enlightened footsteps of those men of the past who, in seeking the greater glory of God and the welfare of the Catholic Church, toiled with great zeal and perseverance and admirably professed the Lord Jesus in words and deeds.
In November 1980 Vladas Noreika and Sinkevičius, both students at Vilnius Secondary School no. 72, were arrested and charged with shouting anti-Soviet slogans during the October holiday demonstrations and with desecrating the Soviet flag. Noreika's parents work in a factory, while the parents of Sinkevičius are instructors at Vilnius State University. The students were released after receiving suspended sentences. Their relatives let it slip that the prisoners were beaten with rubber canes at security police headquarters.
At the beginning of February 1981 Security Police Chief Baltinas advised [Mrs.] Irena Skuodienė to guard her daughters against the influence of anti-Soviet persons.
The Chekist assured her that her husband, V. Skuodis, had received a fair trial according to the law and that foreign countries were deliberately distorting the facts. He also warned that if she met with foreign diplomats she was not to "distort" the facts about her husband's trial.
From the Letters of Petras Paulaitis
"Even if the letters sent to me are allowed through by Moscow, Vilnius, Magadan, or some other major center of the Soviet Union, local administrations of all those minor centers in the periphery of Russia like Barashevo (Mor-doviya), Lesnoy, and other places of torment for people deprived of rights, cannot renounce a certain savage attitude toward other people. This is a matter of purely personal interest of every head of such administrations. Everyone wants an easy but profitable job. And one of those jobs is to stir the kettle of slaves, to see to it that the unfortunates who find themselves there have as little opportunity as possible to associate among themselves, that they be unable to freely correspond with anyone without outside administratory interference and be left in the dark about what is happening around them .... I did not receive seven letters in a row. Where did they go? The same thing happened to P. Zorian's letters and those of Česlovas Stašaitis and others. It is obvious that the'zealous defenders' of human rights intercepted those letters in order that I, their slave, exploited by them in every imaginable way for thirty-three years, oppressed and persecuted although absolutely faultless, should not know what my closest and dearest countrymen write me. The words of those unscrupulous and dishonorable'defenders' of human rights are very sweet in Madrid, but reality is completely opposite; it is horrifying .... Thousands of the best sons and daughters of our homeland, Lithuania, our finest youth, were deprived of their lives by the Russian 'liberators.' Others, myself among them, were denied a normal human life. The primary aim of the Russians, especially toward the smaller nations, is to assimilate them. We have our own beautiful history as an honorable nation; we have our own distinct face. We do not need foreign imports, especially the Russian sort, for they are backed at every turn by lies, cruelty, drunkenness, promiscuity. My wish, the continuance of the wishes of my brothers and sisters, is to bear all hardships for my homeland and its children, so that they may know with whom they are dealing and where they are being led . . ..
"During the Christmas season, and especially on Christmas Eve, we shall be together in our hearts with all our Brothers and Sisters who remember us."
December 2, 1980"
"To: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party
The Vaga publishing firm in Vilnius
The editorial staff of Tiesa (Truth)
The editorial staff of Komjaunimo tiesa (Truth of the Communist Youth)
"With this document I would like to draw the attention of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party to an abnormal, distressing, and damaging fact, that is, to the hooliganism being disseminated by the Soviet press. It is not only blows that cause injury; even more harmful are deceitful accusations, fabrications, and slander. A hooligan is not only someone who attacks and assaults an innocent person, not only someone who spits in one's face and spatters mud on one's clothes. A hooligan is also he who slanders a person, charging him with all kinds of nonexistent, invented offenses which besmirch his decent name.
"The booklet Be iliuzijų (Without illusions) by Bronius Jauniškis, published by the Vaga publishing firm, is full of such hooliganism. The author hurls the vilest accusations with fraudulent insolence against completely innocent persons.
"I will write here about people I know well and events I am familiar with which were crudely libeled and distorted by Jauniškis, especially in the section entitled Užgesinta šviesa (Extinguished light).
"The Priests Council of the Diocese of Telšiai November 30, 1980 no. 3
"To: The Prosecutor General of the USSR
"For a number of years sinister elements carrying out various types of terrorist activities have been acting against the Lithuanian Catholic Church. We are astounded that the agents of the Lithuanian SSR Ministries of Internal Affairs and Justice have as yet been unable to apprehend the culprits or are simply ignoring the complaints of believers.
"For example, on June 25,1970, the Batakiai church in Tauragė Rayon, built in 1509, was burned down. The individuals responsible for the fire have yet to be found. Believers are under the impression that no one looked for the culprits. Neither the government of the Lithuanian SSR nor of the USSR answered the believers' requests for permission to rebuild the church. The Lithuanian SSR Council of Ministers was petitioned on July 28, 1970, and seven hundred believers appealed to the USSR Council of Ministers on August 17, 1970, but were not given permission to rebuild the church. Rumors began to circulate among the people that the burning of churches was premeditated since exactly one month later in daytime on July 24, 1970, a valuable architectural monument dating from 1773, the Gaure church, was burned down in that same rayon. The arsonists were never found. The believers' petition dated August 14, 1970, for permission to rebuild was never answered by the Lithuanian SSR Council of Ministers, and permission was not granted.
Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis arrived at Šilalė on January 21,1981. After summoning the members of the entire rayon's parish councils and the rayon's deputies, he explained Soviet law to them. He stated that it is forbidden to teach groups of children the truths of the faith and that children under eighteen years of age are forbidden to serve at mass, keep vigil, sing in the church choir, etc.
He publicly stated that he will remove the Šilalė assistant pastor, Father Vytautas Skiparis, from the priesthood.
A Nevočiai Grade School teacher, Uksas, asked: "Who can take care of Šilalė's assistant pastor?" The commissioner suggested they appeal to interrogation organs.
On March 10, 1981, all Šakiai Rayon Township Chairmen, school principals, and parish council representatives were summoned to the rayon executive committee offices. Murnikov, a lecturer, delivered a lecture stressing that priests do not observe Soviet laws and that parish councils must control them to prevent them from embezzling funds, etc. Following the lecture, the audience submitted questions to the speaker: Why do churches pay 25 kopeks per unit of electricity and not 4 kopeks? Why was the Klaipėda church closed? Why is there no religious press? The speaker merely "beat around the bush" when answering.
"To: The Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR
"On December 16, 1980, I arrived at the Supreme Court, where at a public session the trial of Vytautas Skuodis, Gintautas Iešmantas, and Povilas Pečeliūnas was taking place. Because there was no room in the courtroom, I stood in the hallway and spoke with one of the witnesses (an operator from a television studio) about his birthplace. We were approached by a tall man wearing a brown suit, who began to yell angrily, demanding to know why I was interrogating people and ordering me to leave. I replied that the trial was open and every citizen had the right to come here and asked him who he was. The man did not reply and summoned several policemen to lead me away. I repeated that the trial was open, and that he had no right to shout at me. The man sternly ordered the lieutenant and the three sergeants to throw me out the door. The policemen twisted my arms, punched me in the back, and pushed me through the door into the street with such force that they broke my watch band. When I demanded that they buy me another watch band, First Lt. Stepanov threatened me: 'If I ever buy you anything, you'll never want anything else.'
"Later I returned into the hallway and sat down and read a newspaper. A man approached me, identified himself as a court employee, and began to shout: 'Get out of here!
In January 1981 Vytautas Vaičiūnas, an engineer residing in Kaunas at 46 Hipodromas St., apt. 35, sent a statement to P. Griskevičius, secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party (with copies to the editorial staffs of the Raseiniai Rayon newspapers Naujas rytas (New Dawn) and Komjannimo tiesa (Truth of the Communist Youth) in which he takes exception to the article "Atviras pokalbis su jaunimu" (An open discussion with youth) published by the newspapers mentioned, which described a procession-march from Tytuvėnai to Šiluva.
The article's author, (Mrs.] E. Skudrienė, stated in the opening lines of the article that "those who participated in that bedlam, and especially the organizers, have no feelings for the laboriously harvested crops in the fields. Nowadays they are well-fed." In his statement, Vytautas Vaičiūnas proved that believers make up the majority of Lithuania's inhabitants; they work in factories, on farms and, therefore, the article's charges are unfounded.
The crowd of a thousand packing the church at Šiluva gives witness to the fact that "Man does not live by bread alone. It is necessary to plow, to sow, and to reap, but one must not look upon man as a beast of burden or as a fattening hog." Vytautas Vaičiūnas disagreed with the article's author that the worst deeds of young people were enumerated in the sermon. That was pure invention. The sermon was about excessive drinking and moral licentiousness. The youth were urged to be modern-day Valančiuses (nineteenth-century bishop-reformer — Tr.) to join the national temperance campaign, to bring back the lost virtues: chaste youth and enduring families. "Must the work of restoring sobriety and chastity to the nation be shrugged off as insignificant? Does it harm the interests of society and the state?" asked Vytautas Vaičiūnas.
On February 21, 1981, Principal Nausėda of Garliava Secondary School no. 1 summoned tenth-grade student Vytautas Gluoksnis and asked him whether he really believed in God, sang in the church choir, and played the organ. The student denied nothing, and the school principal stated, "It is forbidden! You're a member of the Communist Youth League!" "I can withdraw from the Communist Youth League," the tenth-grader replied coolly. The principal suggested he write a statement.
On February 26 Gluoksnis was summoned once again. The student's mother was also sent for. The principal repeatedly demanded that the mother urge her son to withdraw his statement about leaving the Communist Youth League. He threatened that if the boy did not reconsider he would be turned over to higher authorities and would not be admitted to any school of higher education. In the mother's presence, he called the son stupid and pledged not to leave him alone as long as the son sang and played the organ in church.
On February 27, 1981, Principal Nausėda of the Garliava Secondary School kept seventh-grader Egidijus Blockis after school. He asked whether the boy attended church and served at mass and who else served. The boy remained silent. "Why are you silent? Did you swallow your tongue or lose your voice? We know everything anyway; we have our agents in church!" the principal scolded. "If you know everything, then why do you ask?" replied Egidijus. Other teachers came to help the principal interrogate and scold the 7th-grader.
In January 1981 the church in Nočia in Varanava Rayon, Byelorussia, was burglarized. In February the church of Rodunia was burglarized. The tabernacle was desecrated, the door was smashed, and carpets, pictures, and some ten thousand rubles were stolen.
Aušra (Dawn), nos. 23 and 24.
Vytis (Knight), no. 6.
Tiesos kelias (The path of truth), nos. 16 and 17.
Blaivybėje — jėga (Strength in sobriety), no. 1.
This publication made its appearance in 1981, The Year of Temperance. In the introduction it states: "This humble publication was created to nurture the flame of enthusiasm for temperance in our society, to publicize good experiences, to band temperance activists together, and to spread the activities of the temperance movement." The publication Blaivybėje — jėga propagates and publicizes the temperance movement.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania congratulates those enthusiasts who have resolved to publish a publication as necessary as Blaivybėje — jėga in an effort to save Lithuania from drowning in alcohol.
Petras Plumpa (Chistopol prison), Petras Paulaitis (Mordoviya), Sergei Kovalev (Perm Region), Viktoras Petkus (Perm Region), Balys Gajauskas (Perm Region), Vladas Lapienis (exiled to Teya), Algirdas Statkevičius (Chernyakhovsk Special Psychiatric Hospital-Prison), Antanas Terleckas (Perm Region), Julius Sasnauskas (Vilnius Security Police Prison), Povilas Pečeliūnas (Perm Region), Vytautas Skuodis (Mordoviya), Anastazas Janulis (Mordoviya), Povilas Buzas (Perm Region), Gintautas Iešmantas (Perm Region), [Miss] Gemma-Jadvyga Stanelytė (Sverdlovsk Region), [Miss] Genovaitė Navickaitė (Panevėžys labor camp), [Miss] Ona Vitkauskaitė (Panevėžys labor camp), and others who are enduring the yoke of bondage in order that you may live and believe in freedom.