In June and August of 1981, delegations of Klaipeda Church Committee members and believers went to Moscow to see the Central Committee of the Communist Party and Chairman Kuroyedov of the Council for Religious Affairs, bearing petitions from believers requesting the return of the Catholic church in Klaipeda, illegally confiscated by the government. The text of the petition:
"We, the faithful of the City of Klaipeda and the entire Catholic Church in Lithuania appeal to you, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, asking you to return the Catholic church in Klaip6da built with our funds and work.
"The construction of this church was begun in 1956, upon receipt of permits from the Supreme Soviet Presidium, the USSR Council of Ministers and the Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian SSR. When the church was completed in 1961, but before it began to function, it was confiscated from the faithful at the order of then-Chairman Khrushchev of the Supreme Soviet Presidium.
"Currently, the church built our funds and labor has been converted into a philharmonic hall, while we faithful, having built such
Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Klaipeda, shortly after completion in 1962.
a spacious church, must suffer heat and overcrowding in a small (220 m. — 2,350 sq. ft.), church or freeze outside. The city of Klaipeda and its suburbs have some 100,000 believers.
"Feeling unjustly wronged, we appealed to the Religious Affairs Commissar in Moscow, in 1974 with some 3,500 believers' signatures. In March, 1979, with 10,241 signatures and in October, 1979, with 149,149 signatures, we appealed to you, Chairman Brezhnev of the Supreme Soviet Presidium, and to Religious Affairs Commissar Kuroyedov requesting that our church be returned.
"We, the believers of all Lithuania, await a just decision. Otherwise, we will petition and write until the church which belongs to us is returned . . ."
The petition was signed by 1,0008 believers.
USSR Religious Affairs Commissar Kuroyedov confirmed to the ten person delegation, in the presence of Lithuanian Religious Affairs Commissar Petras Anilionis that the Klaipeda church had been confiscated illegally, offered, serious or not, permission to build
A photo of the church after being confiscated in 1962. It was converted into a philharmonic concert hall.
a new church and promised the faithful to give a final reply through the City of Klaipėda Executive Committee.
On December 5, 1981, with no reply forthcoming, the Klaipeda Catholic Committee and believers sent a petition signed by 250 persons to the City of Klaipėda Executive Committee Chairman A. Žalius, demanding that the confiscated church be returned.
In June, 1981, the children of the Žilėnai parish were being prepared for First Communion. For this, a government commission filed three reports against the pastor. At the beginning of July, Prosecutor Kontrimas of the Rayon of Varėna interrogated the children and forced them to sign some kind of papers.
On July 16, 1981, Prosecutor Kontrimas issued the following warning to Kastytis Krikščiukaitis:
"Upon reviewing the evidence, it has been established that Pastor Kastytis Krikščiukaitis of the Žilėnai Roman Catholic Church parish in the Rayon of Varėna, organized religious education programs for minors in June and July, 1981 in the Žilėnai church, and systematically carried them out. He thereby violated the laws of the separation of Church and state and the school and Church (art. 50 of the Constitution of the Lithuanian SSR and art. 143 of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR).
"On the basis of the warning . . . tendered about breaking the aforesaid laws and the explanation that if he continues in the future to violate these laws, he would be indicted under art. 143 of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR."
On June 7, 1981, following the feast of St. Anthony, the pastor, Father Kastytis Krikščiukaitis invited the people to enjoy themselves. The people sang folk songs and played the accordion, while the women served refreshments. Everyone's happy mood was spoiled by Collective Farm Chairman Antanas Uždavinys, Party Secretary (Mrs.) Biekšienė and Teacher Biekša,who ran up three times demanding that they leave, since this was a school yard. The people ignored them and continued with the pastor to enjoy themselves. Rayon officials were summoned, but they also were unable to rout the people. The following day security agents arrived from as far away as Vilnius and questioned whether the national anthem "Lithuania, Our Homeland", had been sung.
Chairman Uždavinys is telling everyone: "Either I or that gimpy Petras has to go" (That is what he calls the local pastor.) Upon learning on February 19, 1982, that the collective farm chairman was planning a party for the farm workers during Lent, Father Krikščiukaitis went to the collective farm office to advise that believing farm workers would be unable to attend the planned party during Lent. The collective farm chairman called the pastor an ass, a super-idiot with several screws missing, and idler, ignorant, narrow-minded and promised to inform the appropriate organs.
The Rayon of Varėna newspaper printed a vile slanderous article against Father Kastytis Krikščiukaitis.
Why is this priest so hated? The answer must be sought during his studies at the seminary. During the Easter,1975,vacation, two security agents attempted to recruit seminarian Krikščiukaitis as their spy. "We desperately need your help . . . we must know what the people are thinking," pressured the security agents. "No, I refuse!" the seminarian replied. "We'll expel you from the seminary," they threatened, but still gained nothing.
Basing itself on the classical Marxist writers, Soviet propaganda maintains that no official document in the Soviet Union makes any mention of a person's religious beliefs. The "Inquiry Form" for recruits into the Soviet armed forces contains the following question:
"Where do you stand with regard to religion?"
The "Inquiry Form" is printed by permit No. 3927850000 of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania. It must be completed by an officer of the Soviet armed forces, after he has interviewed the draftee.
Tauragnai (Rayon of Utena)
On December 22, 1981, the trial of Rakauskas, Strazdas and Nemunas, who robbed the Tauragnai church and desecrated the Blessed Sacrament, was held in Utena. They had also committed many other crimes.
Many parishioners and believers from other cities came to the trial proceedings, but only some of the arrivals were able to gain admittance into the small courtroom.
Tauragnai Pastor Bronius Šlapelis was forced to leave the courtroom and, as a witness, wait until the evening in the court corridor, unable to observe the trial proceedings. During the noon recess, Father Bronius Šlapelis asked the presiding judge why no mention was being made at the trial of the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament which is considered a serious offense by believers The judge retorted that "Church property belongs to the state and only the state suffered in the burglary."
In his testimony, Father Šlapelis greatly stressed the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament. As far back as on August 27th, when the offenders were brought back to Tauragnai, the pastor had asked them where they had put the Sacred Hosts, but they replied they did not know. During the trial, the pastor repeatedly asked the court for permission to ask the offenders where they had put the Blessed Sacrament. He was not permitted to pose the question but the judge himself explained that they had eaten the Hosts in the sauna, washing it down with the wine taken from the church. When the priest explained that the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament is an offense more serious than the desecration of the state flag, the judge interrupted him, implying that this was irrelevant.
Kapčiamiestis (Rayon of Lazdijai)
Rayon officials came several times to the Kapčiamiestis District to conduct a church inventory. Church committee members were sent summonses to appear at the district at the indicated time: none of the committee members went. On January 20, 1982, rayon Executive Committee Vice Chairman Vanagas came to Kapčiamiestis. He was surprised to find that the inventory reports had not yet been completed, and demanded that district employee (Mrs.) Janina Margelienė go with parish Pastor Plioraitis and committee members to complete the inventory reports.
"I won't go!" protested Janina Margelienė.
On February 9th, Vice Chairman Vanagas again came to the Kapčiamiestis District. School Principal Z. Sabalius was also summoned to the district. But the church committee again failed to appear. Father Ignas Plioraitis was also summoned but did not go either.
Krosna (Rayon of Lazdijai)
On April 25, 1981, two drunken youths stole a plaster angel, later valued at 75 rubles by the art council, from the Krosna church. The culprits were apprehended and taken to the militia. One of them was immediately released by the militia because no stolen articles were found in his possession. The second, Arūnas Micka, was tried in Lazdijai on July 13, 1981. The court ruled the offense not dangerous to society because the robbery was from a church; the defendant Micka was therefore sentenced only to one year of rehabilitative work at his place of employment, with 20% of his monthly salary deducted for the state.
A church was robbed, but as a result the state gets some 500-600 rubles. In the meantime, the thieves are again free and one of them was not even charged.
During the trial, the pastor's remark that the motive for the robbery must be examined was totally ignored. After stealing the statue, the thieves boasted they would take it to the atheist museum and sell it for a minimum of 200 rubles. It is common knowledge that atheist museums purchase articles of a religious nature even from teenagers and children, without asking where they obtained them, thus encouraging the burglary of churches which has increased markedly in recent times.
On October 14, 1981, Religious Affairs Commissar Anilionis sent the Mažeikiai Catholic Church Committee a warning to reprove Father Antanas Beniušis who "in his sermons spreads lies and slander about the soviet way of life, attacks Soviet agencies and government officials..." The commissar ends his letter with the threat: "...I warn you, we will be forced to rescind the registration of the religious community and close the house of worship."
The Mažeikiai Church Committee responded to Anilionis' threat as follows: "Since Father Antanas Beniušis is directly responsible to the Chancery and to you, we have no legal power over Father Beniušis in this matter."
Židikai (R a y o n of Mažeikiai)
The funeral of (Mrs) Kleopatra Rapalienė was held in Židikai on August 24, 1981. The pastor of Židikai, Father Domininkas Giedra, and Father Klemensas Arlauskas, a retired priest at Ylakiai participated in the burial services.
On September 12th, Father Domininkas Giedra was summoned to see Vice Chairman Songaila of the Rayon of Mažeikiai Executive Committee. Two witnesses were present in the office. The vice chairman berated the priest for inviting a guest priest to the funeral and for escorting the decedant to the cemetery without a permit. The pastor replied: "I am an experienced priest and I know how to bury Catholics, so please don't instruct me."
At the conclusion of the talk, Vice Chairman Songaila warned Father Giedra that he would send a full report to Commissar Anilionis.
On January 20, 1982, Assistant Prosecutor Barauskas of the Lithuanian SSR gave a lecture on political questions at the Ariogala Land Improvement hall. Someone asked why such disorder now reigns in Poland. The prosecutor replied that one of "Poland's brood", the Pope, is responsible for everything, for he incited and continues to incite the Poles. A murmur of outrage rose in the hall and one of the participants protested: "How dare you speak so disrespectfully of the Pope who has the respect of the entire world?"
On October 20 and 21, 1981, Assistant Pastor Father Feliksas Baliūnas of St. George's Church in Šiauliai was summoned for interrogation to the Vilnius KGB. Interrogator Kazys inquired about the articles confiscated in a search and attempted for two days to reeducate the priest.
On February 17, 1982, a character from Vilnius again visited the Molėtai rectory. He voiced his outrage that signatures are collected at the church, because that amounts to inciting people. This individual was concerned that young priests continue to associate with Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and this "disrupts" the unity of priests. He was also displeased that Father Jonas Zubrus does not stay put in remote Vytautava, but travels all over the place.
Tauragė physician Mečislovas Laužeckas, who courageously professed his faith all his life, died on December 28, 1981. Throughout his lifes the physician never missed Holy Mass on Sundays and, as a result suffered much unpleasantness at work.
Doctors had stated previously that if the decedant is given a church burial, they would not act as pallbearers. Doctor (Mrs.) Butkienė added that an executive committee official had strictly forbidden all doctors to attend the funeral.
At the gravesite, Father Puzaras invited the doctors to say a word of farewell, but none of them dared to speak.
A new grave has sprouted in the Tauragė cemetery, it is adorned with a simple wooden cross, which will recall tor a long time the good doctor, a Lithuaniam patriot and examplary Catholic, the late Mečislovas Laužeskas.
In his December 12, 1981, statement to the Prosecutor of Lithuania, Robertas Grigas complained that during a search of his home, militiamen and security agents confiscated religious books, photographs of Pleterytė (a member of the 1831 uprising) and even atheist books with underlined passages. Some of the books were not listed in the search report.
"In the lecture halls of the Vilnius State Pedagogical Institute where I am studying," Grigas writes, "the most perfect and humane Soviet legal system is continually lauded. However, none of the political science instructors has stated that, under this legal system, a personal library can be censored and religious literature, notes and even atheist books confiscated, if they contain underlined passages and remarks. What a blatant attempt to ban thought, investigations and discussion even with a book lying in one's desk drawer. Can the giant web of atheist propaganda feel its inner inadequacy so deeply that it considers the comments we believers make in the margins a danger to them? How hypocritical is the tribute to 1831 uprising member Emilija Pleterytė in the rayon newspaper, when in the meantime copies of her picture are confiscated.
On January 26, 1982, Genė Šakalienė was summoned for interrogation to the Vilnius KGB. Chekist Kalakauskas was interested in knowing whether the woman had spoken by telephone with her husband, Vladas Šakalys, who lives in the U.S.A. Furthermore, he berated her for signing various petitions. The interrogator implied that if Šakalienė mends her ways and fulfills certain security police demands, she may be allowed in several years to join her husband in the U.S.A.
A cross was erected near Vištytis during the night of August 25, 1981. On August 26th, District Chairman Žarskis and Brigade Leader Žukauskas dug up the cross and, after removing the corpus, hid it in the bushes. The people found the cross and erected it again. That same day, Žarskis and Cultural Center Director Paškauskas again uprooted the cross. Chairman Žarskis threatened the people with punishment for erecting the cross.
Following the desecration of the cross, Vištytis Parish Pastor Father Kazimieras Montvila organized services in the church to atone for the desecration.
In 1981, tractor driver Petras Bertašius who works at the Pajevo-nis state Farm was summoned to the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee and scolded for attending church, leading the recitation of the rosary at funerals, etc. "You are giving the youth a bad example," the officials scolded.
"Take my tractor if you wish! I will continue attending church as I have in the past," retorted the vigorous man.
On February 11, 1982, Father Antanas Gražulis, Assistant Pastor of Prienai, sent a letter to Religious Affairs Commissar Anilio-nis, in which he responds to the executive committee's warning. He writes: "In my sermon I attacked neither the Soviet system, the Party nor Soviet foreign policy. I spread no anti-Soviet propaganda, but merely condemned the great criminals from various centuries against humanity and the Church... I condemned hypocrites who say one thing and do another . . . therefore your charges against me are unfounded."
On January 7, 1982, a group of chekists came to Šilalė from Vilnius. They summoned people, questioned them about Father Vytautas Skiparis and how information about Šilalė finds its way into the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. According to the chekists, the Šilalė assistant pastor wants to rot in Soviet labor camps, but they are still delaying granting him a "martyr's crown."
The chekists asked the people about Nijolė Sadūnaitė, wondering what she had said in Šilalė and who permitted her to speak in the church.
On November 30, 1981, Religious Affairs Commissar Anilio-nis, former priest Starkus and other propagandists came to Šilalė to promote atheism. In one lecture, Feliksas Laurinčiukas, Chief Instructor of Atheism at the Kaunas Politechnic Institute derided Father Vytautas Skiparis in particular. According to the speaker, the priest should have been arrested a long time ago, he is unbalanced . . .
Other speakers also preached "scientific atheism" with similar arguments.
On November 8, 1981, 110 Viešvėnai faithful sent the Prosecutor of Lithuania a letter protesting the fact that on November 1st, Soviet officials prevented priests from reaching Viešvėnai on time and consequently many people were unable to make their confessions. The letter states: "When we believers travel to holy places, to major devotions, our cars are checked just to annoy us. In the meantime, cars travelling to non-religious affairs such as song festivals are not checked even though some of the drivers are drunk. . ." The letter also mentions that churches must pay 25 kopeks per kilowatt hour of electricity, while others pay only 4 kopeks.
On October 9, 1981, vandals broke down the doors and entered the Papilė church. Inside the church, they tore open the tabernacles but did not desecrate the Blessed Sacrament, for it was kept in a safe place. In the sacristy, the culprits threw liturgical vestments around.
During the night of November 3, 1981, evildoers broke into the Vėžaičiai church. The thieves were apprehended and it was learned that they had earlier robbed the Gargždai, Endriejavas and Medingėnai churches.
In November, 1981, criminals broke into the Akmenė church and dented the metal tabernacle, but were unable to break it open.
During social affairs organized by the Cultural Center, the churchyard of the Alsėdžiai church is turned into a toilet. The faithful have often informed the rayon authorities of this matter, but they have yet to take any measures.
At the end of 1981 and later, chekist Norkūnas, attempted to recruit the believing youth of Telšiai to spy for the security police. Rainiai Nursery School employee (Miss) Vilhelmina Stulpi-naitė and a laborer Antanas Ruvelis were harassed for a long time. For refusing to talk to the chekists, (Miss) Genovaitė Šalkauskaitė was discharged and barred from working in the educational field. For a long period, Chekist Norkūnas summoned students (Miss) Alina Stankutė, (Miss) Judita Bružaitė and others for talks.
During religious feasts, upper-grade Communist Youth League members are obliged to go to an assigned church and take notes on the services, sermons, participants, etc. Prior to Christmas 1981, instruction classes were given at the Telšiai Party headquarters for students sent on this mission.
On September 13, 1981, (a Sunday) while believers were on their way to church in Šiluva, chekists and militiamen hunted down young people, stuffed them into cars and took them to the Raseiniai militia. Žagarė sacristan Rubinas was held at the militia an entire day, while Tauragė resident Sigitas Jucikas was detained for 24 hours. Some of the young people managed to escape capture. Kairiškiai (Rayon of Akmenė)
In October, 1981, (Mrs.) Šeržentienė, Chief Investigator for the Preservation of Monuments in the Rayon of Akmenė, listed all the artistic crosses and shrines standing at homesteads for the purpose of siezingthem for the Papilė museum.
The faithful believe that this "listing" is none other than an attempt by the atheists to remove all Christian symbols from public places.
On September 13, 1981, Petras Mikulis, a resident of Šiauliai, and his family were driving near the Hill of the Crosses. When they approached Domantai, they stopped because the road leading to the Hill of Crosses was marked with a sign forbidding entry. When the militiamen and some sort of character learned that the travelers intended to continue the trip on foot, they issued a summons "for stopping in the wrong place."