For ten years already you have been performing work which is still difficult to evaluate fully today.
At a time when everyone's lips are sealed, when human rights are trampled, freedoms declared in constitutions and international documents are violated and the victims are cynically ridiculed, during that time of total suppression of freedom of the press and freedom of speech, you dared pierce that sepulchral silence. You dared lift the curtain of deceitful propaganda and document with concrete, undeniable facts what is actually happening in our unfortunate Lithuania. This voice which at first appeared so lone and almost timid, appeared to some an outright hopeless cry for help. At the time some probably remembered the words once spoken to Dr. Vincas Kudirka: "What can you, a lowly bug, accomplish against such power? Such kings, such weapons and strength will crush you like a fly."
However his lone voice did not become silent. On the contrary, everyone soon heard it. It was also heard by those who wished, like the secret police of those times to "crush it like a fly"; it was heard by those whose wrongs it publicized, it was heard by our brethren abroad and through them by the whole world. It was heard because the words, the humble pages carried, like a terrible explosive weapon a powerful force: TRUTH!
Genuine documents; clear, accurate accounts of events; short, biting news items: all are unfabricated, authentic and concrete facts. To be more accurate, part of the facts, for not all is known, not all reaches the editors; finally, it is impossible to record everything that today occurs in every parish, every school, every Lithuanian city and village, to say nothing of security police offices and cellars. Here every day, every hour, someone is wronged, unjustly accused, someone is denied the most basic rights, even those guaranteed by law; someone is ridiculed, someone is persecuted or intimidated. . . The most intimate nooks of man's heart and conscience are arbitrarily invaded. Violators of innate human rights, international agreements and even their own laws perform black deeds, wishing on the one hand to remain unnoticed and on the other to maintain the myth of their strength, power and omniscience. They wish to keep everyone in servile obedience and fear. They desire that even the most heroic victims up against their "omnipotence", remain submissive and silent. But in fact they are neither as omniscient or as omnipotent as they would appear. Moreover, when they fear something they avoid it. They fear publicity, the light of day; they fear truth. If secrecy, vagueness, darkness are their allies, then publicity, clarity and open truth are the strength of their victims. Exposing violations of rights and justice, violations of human, national and Church rights, revealing the true reasons, accurately explaining various events is a powerful weapon which can and must be used by those persecuted, by victims of violence and arbitrariness. We cannot slavishly obey and remain silent. Timid submissive-ness and silence aid and abet those who violate justice and rights, tantamout to digging our own graves.
For the past ten years the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania has been exposing to the light of day the persecution of the Church, discrimination against believers, suppression of national culture, violations of human rights, restrictions of the freedom of conscience and similar facts. During this decade, much irrefutable evidence had been gathered in the pages of the Chronicle against those who claim to be guardians of the law. It is a solid indictment in the case of truth and humanity against arbitrariness and tyranny. But because today, in the poet's words "killers haughtily condemn the just in tribunals", it is not the culprits who are punished or those who take matters into their own hands who are checked, rather a terrible storm of persecution has overtaken the Chronicle. This is the tenth anniversary not only of the Chronicle, but of its persecution as well. How much surveillance, searches, interrogations, arrests, judicial elimination and other persecution its readers and disseminators have suffered! The names of those book smugglers who today suffer in the Soviet Union's slave camps and prisons are spoken with respect and love. The struggle for free Lithuanian speech has venerable traditions. The persecutors of Lithuanian speech and culture have equally old traditions. During the tsarist era, new Muraviev executioners came to Lithuania by well-beaten paths; for a long time today's fighters and book smugglers have been driven on well-beaten paths to the East. But the Nation always had idealists; she has them today as well. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is necessary, important and well-received by all, therefore it had and will continue to have supporters. It is the voice of all Lithuania, the Church, believers and all those persecuted. It cannot be silenced! It can be stifled, it can be harmed, perhaps even temporarily crushed, but it is impossible to silence it completely. In one way or another it will break through:
"You cannot dam the river's course, It will continue its relentless way. You cannot hold back a new uprising, Though you fear acknowledging it."
There is only one means of stopping the publication of the Chronicle: It is to eliminate those facts, those crimes against truth and justice which it records; then the Chronicle will cease publication. There is no other method . . .
Today it is still difficult to evaluate sufficiently what the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania or other underground publications have accomplished. We are still too close to these events, we are still being buffeted by their tide; but we can say fearlessly that the role of the clandestine press is vast and important. First there is the very fact that the injury done a person is noticed, that someone is talking about him, takes his side, offers encouragement, urges him to defend himself and seek justice. Second, it is a restraint when facts intended to be concealed are exposed. This factor places certain restraints on violators of truth and justice; it limits the influence and results of their actions, especially since this information reaches foreign countries and becomes known to broad spectra of society. There is a modicum of accurate information which reaches the Vatican and the West. There, our fellow countrymen are also concerned with the affairs of Lithuania and her Church, there people are also working and fighting. But how difficult it is for them to assess accurately what is actually happening in our homeland, especially when the occupant and his collaborators try variously to misinform. The publication of authentic documents and reliable facts helps our brothers better to sift out truth from falsehood. Furthermore, the Chronicle is translated into other languages, sent to various agencies and leaders. Our thanks, our sincere thanks to those compatriots who perform this vitally necessary work. We must be grateful to Vatican and other radio stations which take the information they receive from Lithuania and transmit it back via the air waves. It is an exceedingly great, actually, an invaluable support in the enslaved nation's fight for her rights and freedom, especially in view of the conditions and projections the Chronicle and other underground press must dissiminate in Lithuania. Via radio broadcasts (People very eagerly listen to foreign radio sta-
tions.) underground information spreads widely throughout Lithuania, reaching even those who have no access to the press itself.
Today, the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is no longer a lone voice and no longer the only free underground publication. But it was the first. It was the first to break the oppressive and dismal silence; it broke the ice. It continues to be an important forum from which the discriminated believer of Lithuania can speak.
The Chronicle's factual style is its trait, importance and strength. With this trait in ten years, it has written an entire page of Lithuanian history, full of heavy repression, heroic struggle and Christian sacrifice. And as long as the repression persists, as long as the wrongs continue and the fight is waged, the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania will be necessary!
We are well aware how extremely difficult and dangerous is the work of its publishers and disseminators. It is a work which anticipates sacrifice. But know that we remember you with truly great respect, gratitude and love, and sincerely wish God's blessing on your difficult, but exceedingly necessary and vital work!
Lithuania, 1982 A Reader of the Chronicle
P.S. This is not just my opinion. These are the thoughts of many Lithuanians. If you can, please publish this letter in the Chronicle. May it be a humble thanks for your devoted work!