"To: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party
"Twenty years ago the bishop of Vilnius, Julijonas Steponavičius, was exiled to Žagarė without a trial or any indication as to how long and for what reason.
"This bishop's exile brings no one the least benefit but only brings harm.
"It not only generates great discontent among the faithful but also compromises Soviet government organs in the eyes of the entire world, providing believers in other countries with the opportunity to discuss the persecution of the faithful.
"There are Communist states in the world where believers do not have to endure such incidents, for example, in neighboring Poland, the German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and other countries.
"Therefore, we faithful of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, appeal once again to the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party with the sincere request that the aged Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius be allowed to return to the Archdiocese of Vilnius and perform his duties as bishop until his death.
"We are convinced that such an action on the part of the Soviet government, far from weakening, will enhance its prestige in the eyes of Lithuanian believers."
April 5, 1981
Signed by about 700 believers
The Soviet government did not reply to this letter.
A group of Lithuanian religious believers presented His Excellency Bishop Liudas Povilonis with a list of persons wishing to attend the Eucharistic Congress in Lourdes and asked His Excellency to intercede on their behalf. They received no official response from either Bishop Povilonis or government officials.
Many priests in the Diocese of Vilkaviškis also presented Bishop Povilonis with a request that he intercede on their behalf regarding travelling to Lourdes, but their efforts were in vain; no one took the request seriously.
Antasava (Kupiškis Rayon)
During the night of January 1, 1981, several crosses were broken in the Antasava churchyard and their pieces were scattered throughout the town.
On August 16, 1981, employees of the Department of Finances set upon religious article vendors near the Klaipėda church and stole all their rosaries, prayer books, scapulars, and candles.
Žilėnai, Varėna Rayon)
On June 16, 1981, Father Kastytis Krikščiukaitis was visited by Jukėnai Township Secretary [ Mrs.] Lebednikienė and Bieša and [Mrs.] Šulcienė, both teachers, while explaining the truths of the faith to children in the church. They ordered the children to remain where they were and drew up an indictment. Father Krikščiukaitis refused to sign it. Šulcienė took down the names of the children who had been preparing for First Communion.
On June 22 a commission again came to the church:
Jukėnai Township Secretary Lebednikienė, the Žilėnai school principal, and Šulcienė. The visiting women drew up a new indictment, which no one signed.
After evening services on June 25, 1981, Šulcienė, [Mrs.] Zajankauskienė, and Bucevičius, all teachers, drafted a third bill in the churchyard (Bucevičius, who wrote the document, was not sober). The priest did not sign this document either.
Žilėnai Township Chairman A. Uždavinys, together with the Varėna Rayon procurator, an interrogator, and a policeman, visited homes and questioned children regarding what they were being told by the priest. During these sessions the children were threatened with various reprisals and were forbidden to attend church and prepare for First Holy Communion.
On July 16, Father Krikščiukaitis was summoned to the Varėna Rayon Procurator's Office. Procurator Kontrimas apprised the priest of the warning's contents. Father Krikščiukaitis wanted to take the warning with him, but the prosecutor became alarmed and demanded that the priest return it or he would summon the police. When asked about the freedoms of belief and of conscience, Prosecutor Kontrimas threatened that it would all be made clear to Father Krikščiukaitis during his interrogation.
On July 10 the following inhabitants of the village of Kareivonys were summoned to Varėna Rayon headquarters to meet with Interrogator Andriekas: Albertas Kmieliauskas, [Mrs.] Aldona Kmieliauskienė, and Sigitas Kmieliauskas.
On February 15, 1981, Assistant Pastor Vytautas Skiparis of the Šilalė church sent a petition to the Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR protesting an article entitled "Argi sakykla šmeižtams skleisti?" (Is the pulpit for spreading slander?) by Senior Instructor Feliksas Laurinaitis of the Scientific Communism Department of the A. Sniečkus Politechnic Institute in Kaunas, printed in the January 24, 1981, Komjaunimo Tiesa (Truth of the Communist Youth).
Father Vytautas Skiparis considers the article one of many ignoble attacks against priests. Proving that the charges leveled in the article do not correspond to the facts, Father Skiparis wrote: "I cannot remain silent when I am labeled a 'slanderer' and a 'deceitful liar' and when I am accused of'offenses' without any basis, and I demand that this disgraceful article be publicly retracted."
Šaukotas (Radviliškis Rayon)
At the beginning of July 1981 the Chairman of the Šaukotas Parish Council, Vladas Paura, received from Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis a new registraction certificate, issued on January 23,1981, for the council and review commission, which changed the makeup of the council.
Without the council's knowledge, the authorities had "elected" five new members. Because the newly "elected" included persons who did not practice their religion, the Šaukotas Parish Council replaced them with believers. The council informed Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis of the changes in writing.
On July 23 the Šaukotas Parish Council received the following letter from Assistant Religious Affairs Commissioner E. Juozėnas:
"In reply to your statement of July 16, 1981, the Šaukotas Catholic Religious Community Executive Organ and Review Commission were elected and registered in accordance with established procedure.
"The make-up of the Executive Committee and the Review Commission named in your statement will not be changed or registered because we have no information on the legality of the election.
"For specific explanations regarding this question, you may address the Executive Committee of the Soviet of People's Deputies of Radviliškis Rayon."
Rainiai (Telšiai Rayon)
June 24, 1981, marked the fortieth anniversary of the day on which Communists brutally tortured to death seventy-three Lithuanians in the Rainiai woods.
On June 21, 1981, youth representatives from throughout Lithuania assembled in the cathedral of Telšiai. They visited the martyrs' grave in Telšiai following the high mass, prayed for them and placed flowers upon the grave. Then they paid homage to the martyrs with prayers and flowers in the Rainiai woods.
On the occasion of the anniversary the woods were guarded by Chekists. Thus, it was only on July 15 that an artistic cross commemorating the nation's martyrs was erected. It stood there barely for two days before being cut into pieces by security agents and scattered about in the woods. Some time later, the scattered pieces of the cross were collected and reassembled.
On the morning of August 11, 1981, the news spread through Telšiai: "Three crosses have been erected in the Rainiai woods!" In the late afternoon of that same day, a work brigade led by Telšiai Security Police Chief Laskutov and his secretary attempted to cut the crosses down with saws, but they were unsuccessful, for the wooden crosses had a metal core. They tried to uproot them, but the crosses stood fast. Spades were useless because the ground was full of metal shards and rocks. A company of soldiers then surrounded the woods. The residents of Rainiai were startled by the sound of three explosions.
Once again the people tried to reassemble the destroyed crosses and tied them to trees.
On August 17 as Chekists supervised, all three crosses were taken to Telšiai.
On August 1-2,1981, during a religious festival and the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation at the Telšiai cathedral, the traffic police (at the order of the Rayonauthorities) placed "detour" signs on all streets leading to the cathedral. All drivers who arrived at the parking lot near the cathedral were fined. And as if to add insult to injury, those who came by car for a concert were not impeded.
During the religious festival, the Telšiai Rayon Department of Finances inspector chased religious article vendors from the churchyard.
On March 2, 1981, representatives of parish councils were summoned to the Biržai Rayon Executive Committee offices. A report was read by a representative of the Council for Religious Affairs. Council members were urged to violate church laws, disobey pastors, and forbid children to serve mass. When the speaker ended his report, P. Timukas, chairman of the Biržai Parish Council, boldly stated that parish council members were Catholics and as such were obligated to obey Church regulations and were not about to chase children from the altar. When the lecturer was asked to issue additional printings of the Bible and the catechism, he merely jeered: "It is obvious from your remarks that you've already read too many Holy Scriptures!"
During June 13-14,1981, a new cross was erected by the faithful in Kapčiamiestis near the road to Leipalingis. On June 15 Vice Chairman Vanagas of the Lazdijai Rayon Executive Committee hurried over to inspect the cross, as did Township Police Commissar Kavaliauskas, Township Chairman S. Sabalius, and others. The uneasy authorities declared:
"It's erected in the wrong place!"
Summoning Parish Council Chairman B. Mieliauskas, Kapčiamiestis Police Commissar Kavaliauskas questioned him about who erected the cross and pressured him to sign an explanation.
On June 26, 1981, a commission composed of Druskininkai City Juvenile Department Inspector [Mrs.] Leonavičienė and [Mrs.] Klusevičienė and [Miss] Matusevičiūtė, both teachers at Secondary School no. 1, forced its way into the apartment of Dr. [Miss] Leokadija Balandytė and, finding several children there, drafted a report about the preparation of children for First Communion.
Security police employees have long been blackmailing Dr. Leokadija Balandytė (14-21 Veisejai St.).
On July 14, 1981, Tiesa (Truth) published a report that lecturer Sigitas Rudzevičius of the Vilnius State Pedagogical Institute used to demand up to 1,000 rubles in bribes from his students. Those who did not pay the required sum did not pass the exams. The article's author, [Mrs.] Vanda Bogušienė, failed to mention, however, that Docent S. Rudzevičius taught Marxism!