"To: His Excellency Bishop Liudas Povilionis,
Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas
and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis
"From: Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Pastor of Viduklė
"During July 16-23 of this year (the dates of the Congress at Lourdes) the faithful of the Viduklė parish used to assemble every evening in their house of worship and, in a spirit of truth and love, joined in thought with all the participants of the Congress. Some one hundred believers, not just the old but also the young, would kneel at God's altar. During the first half of this year, 26,200 Holy Communion wafers were distributed.
"Viduklė has long been a mote in the eye for the atheists of Viduklė, who attempt to hurt the pastor and the faithful at every opportunity.
"July 24, 1981, became a tragic day. for the Viduklė parish. The godless desecrated the Blessed Sacrament!
"Around 8 a.m. the sacristan, Petras Kačiušis, opened the church and noticed that the tabernacle was open. Its door had been splintered with an ax, and the ciborium had been removed. The ax was left on the credence table on the left side of the altar (workers repairing the church had left it on the scaffold), as was the ciborium veil. The prayer card was lying face down. On the right were the ciborium cover, the pyx, and a gilded paten. The Hosts were spilled on the corporal in the tabernacle. It appeared that all of the Hosts were there. There were no other traces of wrongdoing. The donation boxes were left untouched. Only the ciborium was taken, without its cover.
"They left through a window near the side entry door. How did they get in? The culprit probably remained behind in the church, or else the hook was unlatched beforehand.
"The police came, examined everything, wrote a report, and promised to look for the offenders. The Blessed Sacrament has already been desecrated in many Lithuanian churches, but the evildoers have never been found anywhere. In Pažėrai the people themselves apprehended the offenders. The last word rests with the authorities.
"The police asked about the amount of the loss. I explained that this crime cannot be given a value in rubies. No one measures in rubles a mother's love, a soldier's sacrifice, or a citizen's patriotism. No one asks how much damage was done in rubles when the homeland is betrayed but imposes the full force of the law, even up to the death penalty. Therefore, we Catholics can never estimate the damages due to the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament in monetary terms but will maintain that it is the work of the devil and the worst possible insult inflicted on believers.
"The faithful of the Viduklė and surrounding parishes were deeply hurt by this incident. Therefore, services of atonement will be held at the Viduklė church next Sunday. August 2 has been designated a day of mourning, repentance, and prayer. We invite everyone to join the people of Viduklė. We request Your Excellency to allow us to establish atonement services every year on the last Sunday of July. They will remind the faithful of the terrible crime committed and future generations of how atheists have been rampaging in our homeland.
"Atheism, instilled in our nation over several decades, has produced terrible fruits. First it showed itself in physical and spiritual hooliganism and is now evolving into Satanism. That is why leaders of the Catholic Church in Lithuania must reach the necessary conclusions and then voice their protest by all possible means and give priests and believers guidelines for action in this new situation.
"We, the people of Viduklė, will live according to the theme of the Forty Second International Eucharistic Congress: Jesus Christ, Bread Broken for a New World! We will do everything to renew Lithuania in Christ.
Viduklė, July 26, 1981
(signed) Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas
Pastor of Viduklė"
On August 26 many young people and adults from all corners of Lithuania streamed into Viduklė for the services of atonement for the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament: from hilly Dzukija, from the shores of the restless Baltic, from old Vilnius, from Panevėžys, Šiauliai, and elsewhere. The church was filled. In his sermon, Father Svarinskas, pastor of Viduklė, read a letter to the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party:
"As early as last fall, the joyous news circulated throughout Lithuania that the Forty Second International Eucharistic Congress would be held in Lourdes, France, on July 16-23, 1981, with the theme 'Jesus Christ, Bread Broken for a New World.'
"The Priests Council of the Archdiocese of Kaunas petitioned Bishop Liudas Povilionis, the Apostolic Administrator of their Archdiocese, to proclaim 1981 a Eucharistic Year in Lithuania. The request was granted, and in Lithuania this year has been dedicated to Christ in the Eucharist. Eucharistic days held in individual parishes produced good results. Unfortunately, Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis selected only two bishops and six priests to go to Lourdes. Furthermore, he informed Bishop Povilionis that no functions were to be held in conjunction with the Lourdes Congress. Although in Kaunas alone some three hundred youths put their names on a list they presented to Bishop Povilionis requesting that he intercede on their behalf in obtaining visas, no laymen were allowed to attend. The enthusiasm of Lithuania's Catholics displeased the atheists. They began to pressure the Church on three fronts:
"1. To compromise the hierarchy in various ways
"2. To impose the harshest penalties on active Catholics, for example, the trials of Mečislovas Jurevičius and the engineer Vytautas Vaičiūnas
"3. To desecrate the Blessed Sacrament in churches.
"Thus during the last two months the Blessed Sacrament was desecrated as described below.
- On June 17 in Pažėrai (Kaunas Rayon) the Blessed Sacrament was taken from the tabernacle and scattered on the ground.
- During the night of July 8-9 in Pagramantis (Tauragė Rayon), unable to break open the metal tabernacle, vandals ripped it from the altar and carried it off with the Blessed Sacrament.
- On the morning of July 24 the tabernacle was found ripped open in the Viduklė church. The Hosts had been spilled out on the corporal, and the ciborium had been carried off.
- On July 27 in the church of Kudirkos Naumiestis, failing to find the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, the culprits attempted to break into the sacristy but were unsuccessful. They fled when the alarm sounded.
"We, the believers of Viduklė and other parishes, gathered at atonement services on August 2 at the Viduklė church. We have been deeply hurt and voice a strong protest against the willfulness of the godless.
"We ask you, as first secretary of the Lithuanian Communist party, to halt the malicious, shallow, and primitive atheistic propaganda against the Church and religious believers. It is clear to everyone that the atheism imposed on Lithuania during the past several decades has borne terrible fruit. At first it was expressed in physical and spiritual hooliganism, but now it has evolved into Satanis m.
"Please use all means possible so that similar offenses are stopped, so that the article of the Constitution dealing with complete freedom of religion can be more than a dead letter of the law.
"We Catholics will set aside one Sunday annually to atone for the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament in the desecrated churches. This will remind the faithful of the great wrong done them and succeeding generations of how the godless have been rampaging in our homeland."
Viduklė, August 2, 1981 — Day of Atonement
That day 737 believers signed the letter.
A true spirit of atonement was felt in the church, but everyone was especially moved by the young people's procession of atonement. Forty-five minutes before the high mass, small children carrying flowers approached the altar on their knees from the main outside doors. They were followed by young people dressed in the national costume and some who joined in from the crowd, while a group of adults brought up the rear. Though the distance to be covered on one's knees was considerable, it was probably not too far for anyone. Several days earlier a man with an ax had perhaps moved stealthily in the dark down this very path. He had approached the altar and aimed the ax at the tabernacle. That blow had resounded in the hearts of all the faithful, and now tears flowed unchecked as people saw girls and boys dressed in white approaching the desecrated altar on their knees and blanketing it with flowers. The mound of flowers grew and grew, and it seemed the touching procession would never end. It was time to start the mass, but the young people came and came. Finally, the entire altar was covered with flowers. When the procession had ended, the pastor stepped forward, parted the flowers of sorrow on the altar and made room to celebrate mass.