To: The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania.
The Vaga Publishers in Vilnius.
My conscience compels me to speak out one more time and condemn moral hooliganism and its propagators in the Soviet press.
In September of last year, I wrote you regarding Bronius Jauniškis' booklet Be iliuzijų (With No Illusions) published by Vaga, which is full of the crudest lies, distorted facts, falsifications and degradation of those who hold different views. Rather than correct the error, the Vaga publishers evaded the issue, claimed that "the said book is carefully prepared for the press and accurately depicts individuals."
I will briefly review here the main events. In the fall of 1926 Juozas Misiūnas enrolled in the fifth year of the Jesuit high school in Kaunas and took up residence in the students' dormitory located near the high school. He graduated in 1930 and entered the Pagryžuvis Jesuit Novitiate near Tytuvėnai. He spent one year in Mittelstein in Silesia, returned to Kaunas in the summer of 1933 and was prefect for a group of students at the Jesuit high school dormitory during the 1933—34 academic year. He left the Jezuits in the summer of 1934. He was healthy; doctors could detect no illness. His eyes were also healthy: he did not wear glasses. After studying for a time, he taught in high schools. In 1939 he married Sofija Katkevičiūtė and raised four daughters. During the German occupation, he worked as a translator at the Panevėžys railway station. After the war, from 1946 to 1949, he taught at the Ramygala, the Užpaliai and from 1951 at the Antalieptė Middle Schools. His eyes were healthy; he did not wear glasses. And only in 1955, as his wife Sofija Misiūnienė testifies, did her husband's eyes begin to fail: his vision at times became cloudy, especially when he was upset. The disease progressed and in the last two or three years before his death (he died in October, 1971) Juozas Misiūnas became half-blind, an invalid.
What did Bronius Jauniškis make of all this? Jauniškis took Misiūnas' blindness during his last year of life and moved it 36 years back to 1933, supposedly "as a result of great physical and spiritual suffering at the monastery, the light dimmed in his eyes. This happened in his youth." (With No Illusions, p. 55). He therefore accuses the monastery in the most crude way, invents some kind of "rendikontas" about which no one at the monastery even knows. Misiūnas was supposedly harassed and tortured there in varied ways. He is alleged to have been tied to a post, stripped half naked, whipped until he lost consciousness and went blind. Afterward, he suffered a long and serious illness; the doctor prescribed for him glasses with even thicker lenses (p. 72) and such a half-blind Misiūnas, barely able to see the light of day. was sent back to Kaunas. "Kipas did not welcome Misiūnas in a friendly fashion" (p. 73), ordered him to petition for permission to leave the monastery. Misiūnas objected: "You're driving me out. You sucked my health dry, you made me blind." Kipas supposedly threatened him with a punishment cell. Finally "Juozas wrote the petition". After returning to his cell, he changed into civilian clothees and, barely able to see the light of day, left the monastery." (p. 74).
All this is the most blatant lie. No one tortures people in a monastery, nor ties them to a post and whips them. No one whipped Misiūnas either, nor caused him to go blind. Jauniškis demonstrates here his low character: unable to deny the positive role of the monastery (especially Jesuit) in bringing education and morality to the nation, Jauniškis resorts to lies and slander. Ignoring the facts, he gives free reign to his far-fetched imagination and fanaticism. We recently commemorated the 400th anniversary of the University of Vilnius. Could that school of higher learning, on a plane with the best scholars and cultural leaders of the day, have been founded and maintained by the Jesuits if they were as sadistic and backward as Jauniškis attempts to portray them?
There is a saying: "A lie has short legs." And in lying, Jauniškis loses his footing. At the beginning of the section entitled Užgesinta šviesa" ("The Extinguished Light") (p. 54) he writes that in Antalieptė, Misiūnas "used to go step by step, brushing the edge of the sidewalk with the end of his cane"— in other words, he was very handicapped. But it must be noted here that there were no sidewalks in Antalieptė when Misiūnas lived there. There are few sidewalks even today, some ten years after Misiūnas' death, and these only along two or three buildings.
Furthermore, if Misiūnas was such a half-blind invalid that could not see the wide sidewalk under his feet, how could he have been a teacher and even an assistant principal—positions which require good eyesight? How could he have seen what goes on in the classroom during lessons, especially during written assignments? How could he have seen the small letters, read and corrected written work, given lectures to the community? Jauniškis sins against the basic principles of logic: he is totally incapable of logical thought and writes whatever comes into his head, and fails to notice that the right hand does not know what the left is doing.
The following documents prove that Juozas Misiūnas did not lose his eyesight during his youth (at the monastery) and that Kipas did not immediately expel him after he returned from Silesia in 1933:
1. States where the Catholic Church is permitted to act freely, annually publish a catalog called Elenchus which lists all the clergy (bishops, priests, seminarians, nuns, monks) of that church province, their addresses and positions. This catalog is drawn up at the end of the year and bears the following year's date. The 1933 Elenchus of the Lithuanian church province (drawn up at the end of 1932) shows that Juozas Misiūnas lived in Mittelstein, Silesia, at St. Joseph's Novitiate. The 1934 Elenchus shows that Misiūnas lived in Kaunas, at Rotušės aikštė 12, at the St. Stanislaus College dormitory and was prefect of the second group of students. But we no longer find Misiūnas name in the 1935 Elenchus. So Misiūnas upon his return from Silesia was not immediately dismissed, but continued as prefect of a dormitory for a whole year.
2.Another very important document shows that Misiūnas had healthy eyes during the 1933-34 academic year. During the summer of 1934, a copiously illustrated book, Kauno jėsuitų gimnazija, pirmasis dešimtmetis 1924-1934 metai (The Kaunas Jesuit High School, the First Decade 1924-1934) was published. Pages 89 and 90 show two photographs of Prefect Juozas Misiūnas, taken in the spring of that year. In one photograph Juozas Misiūnas is standing in the study hall next to students preparing their homework. In the other photograph, Misiūnas is seated with First Group Prefect Jonas Kukta and their superior Juozas Rytmeisteris, surrounded by boarding students. In neither photograph is Misiūnas wearing glasses, while Kukta and Rytmeisteris both are.
3.Students of the Ramygala Middle School testify that they never saw their teacher Juozas Misiūnas wear glasses. (Father Petras Baltuška, pastor of Daugailiai).
4.Finally, Sofija Misiūnienė, the wife of Juozas Misiūnas, also maintains that both at their wedding and for a long time later her husband had healthy eyes, and only, as stated above, in 1955 — some 21 years after he left the monastery — did the first signs of disease, cloudiness, appear.
Misiūnas was dismissed not because of ill-health or blindness, but because he himself admitted in 1934 that he had not wanted to enter the monastery, but did so only on the erroneous assumption that it was his obligation to do so because he had received free room, board and education for four years (it is therefore not surprising that he trembled when he made his vows). Then, i.e., in 1934, he was told that he was in the wrong place, that only those who wish it are accepted into the monastery. No one is forcibly driven into the monastery and vows made under duress are invalid: this is Canon Law. For this reason, both he who is making his vows as well as the candidate is asked whether he freely wishes to enter , being forced by no one, and whether he wishes to obligate himself by the vows. Misiūnas apparently was not honest and spoke one way while feeling and wishing otherwise.
Here Jauniškis makes a totally unfounded charge that Misiūnas had been forced to enter the monastery: "Otherwise, for his tuition and board at the high school, he would have received such a bill that his parents would have ended up in court in short order and later behind bars. How could they have paid the adjudged debt?" (p. 57)
This is a patently false assumption; he proves here his total ignorance and misconception of the situation. Throughout the entire existence of the Jesuit high school, no one was ever taken to court or jailed, although a number of students who received free tuition and board for several years graduated from the high school annually.
Upon graduating, Misiūnas spent four more years in the monastery, he therefore spent eight years with the Jesuits, seven of them studying and one working and when he left in 1934, he was not presented with a bill, and moreover was given secular clothing and a more than modest sum as a start for his new life. This is the reality: diametrically opposed to Jauniškis' slanderous fantasy.
At Rudzevičius' trial, Professor Griška pointed out the requisites for educators: "We educate young people . . . we teach them responsibility, integrity, conscientiousness. The teacher himself must be as pure as crystal, otherwise he will not perform the task with which the collective, the community, entrusted him . . . The teacher is always an authority for the student. His behavior, his moral stance, properly teaches young people... High moral standards are everywhere and always essential, especially at work and in the behavior of those whose duty it is to educate young people." (Tiesa (Truth), July 14, 1981).
Is it not also essential to demand the same of newspaper writers and the Ministry of Education? Can they be uninterested in the truth? For nothing so offends a person as a blatant lie, distortion of facts, slander. Then how could the Vaga publishers print such trash from Jauniškis? How could the Ministry of Education have entrusted the education of young people to such spiritual paupers as Jauniškis, Stankaitis, Stikleris and others?
Nearly two decades ago, Mišutis, the head of the Propaganda Division of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania, laid down the principles of the Soviet press. "The most important principle of the Soviet press is to write only the truth. Distorting the facts, sensationalism, is foreign to our press. Yet in some of our newspapers and magazines, because of the negligence of individual employees in preparing material, articles appear which are inconsistent with the facts or distort them. The Party severely condemns those journalists who follow the once-prevalent rule: 5% truth and you can print it in a newspaper. There is no such thing as 5% truth, only 100% truth and this is especially important when dealing with a person. If the editors made a mistake in printing material which is inconsistent with the facts, they are obligated to correct that mistake." (Tiesa (Truth), February 16, 1963).
Respected employees of the Vaga publishers and the Ministry of Education, not only we believers but the Party itself demands that this error be rectified. We are not requesting a favor, but the most basic justice. By printing material inconsistent with the facts, you committed an offense, you slandered decent people by portraying them as sadists, hypocrites and moral degenerates. Misiūnas left the monastery with healthy eyes and for many years afterward did not even wear glasses, while Jauniškis depicted him as half-blind, barely able to see the light of day; he invented some kind of "rendikontas" about which no one at the monastery was aware. I encountered this word for the first and only time in Jauniškis' "Illusions"; and because I did not know what it meant, I perused two dictionaries of international words but was unable to find it and only by reading further, was I able to understand its meaning from the context. I asked my friends, but they also had never heard of a "vendetta". Therefore that entire story about the "vendetta" and Misiūnas' blindness, just as about St. Sebastian's veneration, is merely a creation of Jauniškis' imagination, with no basis in reality.
The description of mendicant religious in prewar Lithuania falls into the same category — everything has been fabricated, invented — thus the question arises: by what right do the Vaga publishers and the Ministry of Education publish and disseminate vile fabrications and sling mud at innocent people? For this is tantamount to the worst hooliganism and how do they reconcile such hooliganism with Communist morality? Can't you see that such attacks by atheist fanaticism bring shame upon the Soviet press, deceive and mislead people, especially inexperienced young people who, deprived of moral foundations, so quickly take the path of crime? Let us simply recall the accurate words of Academician Skazhkin, whom I cited in my first letter, on the contemporary Soviet press: "... Superficiality in considering fundamental religious problems and intellectual bankruptcy in 'proving" them ignorance of life and believers are typical characteristics of that (atheist — J.D.) literature . . ."
It is high time to reach a radical conclusion: remove the slander-sheets of Jauniškis and other atheist so-called writers, from book stores and libraries, stop insulting the feelings of believers, stop damaging and corrupting young people. People do not work so hard to have their hard-earned money used to produce and impose filth on young people. It is now our duty and right to demand that the press and other means of communication stop being abused, that books and newspapers write only the truth, 100% truth, and shun 5% truth, fabrication and lies which, unfortunately, still often appear.
In conclusion, if even after this letter, Bronius Jauniškis' slanderous little pot-boiler With No Illusions is not recalled and removed from the libraries, it will provide undisputed proof that the Soviet press is totally and absolutely uninterested in objective truth, but only in ruthless and blind anti-religious propaganda, and that atheists, in fighting against religion, ignore all facts and reasonable demands, only following the principle "the end justifies the means."
Where objective truth goes unrecognized, there can be no talk of scholarship,and so-called "scientific atheism" is pure fiction.
Bijutiškis, December 15, 1981 Father Jonas Danyla, S.J.