To: First Secretary P. Griškevičius of the
Communist Party of Lithuania A Letter of Protest from: The faithful of the
We, the believers of the Viduklė Roman Catholic parish, who toil every day in Soviet agriculture and industry, often enduring shortages of the most basic needs, would wish but one thing: allow us to practice our faith freely and raise our children as good people. We can accomplish this only by raising our children in the spirit of the Gospel. We see forcibly imposed atheism in Lithuania leading our nation into a mire of sin; our nation is striding toward physical and spiritual destruction.
We would like to have the freedom guaranteed by the Constitution of the Lithuanian SSR, the international agreements signed by the USSR, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Helsinki Final Act. We, simple people and ordinary citizens, understand the laws as follows: if the Soviet government signed them, it is obligated to observe them!
Unfortunately, in actual practice this basic minimum is still far out of reach. We will mention but a few instances of religious discrimination which we, the people of Viduklė, have had to suffer.
Fr. Alfonsas Svarinskas, Member of Catholic Committee
Our religion requires that all those dead in Christ and buried in the parish cemeteries be paid respect on the eve of All Souls' Day. We therefore go to the cemetery in a church procession. Every year our parish pastor, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, petitions the Executive Committee for permission to use the town street for a distance of some 900 meters (about half a mile) to the cemetery. The officials of the Rayon of Raseiniai, enraptured with special stores and special saunas, discriminate against believers and obviously expect in doing so to atone most easily for mistakes and negligences and therefore reply only: '"Impossible," "We won't allow it," etc. And thus in fulfilling his obligations, the pastor is forced to pay a 50-ruble fine every year for "organizing a religious procession to the cemetery without obtaining a permit". For last year's All Souls' Day, the pastor refused to pay the 50-ruble fine as a sign of protest and lost his refrigerator. Last year, five residents of Viduklė were also punished for participating, as Catholics, in the religious procession: Klimas received a verbal reprimand, and Antanas Česnas, Petras Urbutis, Alfonsas Staškevičius and Juozas Norvilą were each imposed a 30-ruble fine. The logical question is: for what?
Article 32 of the Constitution of the Lithuanian SSR proclaims: The citizens of the Lithuanian SSR are equal before the law regardless of... relationship with religion...place of residence and other circumstances. The atheists of Viduklė go to the military cemetery on May 9th and to the Catholic cemetery on November 1st. No one forbids them, drafts reports or confiscates their refrigerators... Surely the Constitution of the Lithuanian SSR is not just a little red book whose lastpageis marked "ten kopeks"? We have already become accustomed to continual instances of discrimination. We see that rayon leaders do not observe other Soviet laws either. The case of State Farm Chairman Narušis revealed many offenses committed by First Secretary Zigmas Grimaila of the rayon Communist Party: he was removed from his position and transferred to Vilnius. Chairman A. Skeiveris of the rayon executive committee has been terrorizing our pastor tor many years now. Last year, he ordered the director of the Gas Authority to withhold liquid gas from the pastor, although as a subscriber, he was entitled to it. As a result, not only the pastor, but we also were cold. During the winter we used the auxiliary church building to baptize our children, old people came to get warm because rayon leaders have twice refused permission to install heat in the Viduklė church. Animals are kept in heated barns, but Catholics are forbidden this comfort! We see that Soviet identity papers do not protect a citizen against the arbitrariness of Soviet officials, but only serve to keep the militia up-to-date. We are consoled by rumors that this leader also will soon be removed. On August 14th of last year, while organizing the "pig plague" in Žaiginys, he killed a man with his car.
Following evening services on February 20th of this year, at around 9:00 P.M., a group of believers and their children went from the church to the rectory to share pre-Lenten festivities with the pastor. Suddenly and quite unexpectedly, Viduklė District Chairman Edmundas Kringelis entered the room, along with militia official First Lieut. Butkus and two witnesses, Jonas Remeikis and Edvardas Lybikis (who was quite drunk!) and drafted a report against the pastor, charging that some 30 children recited poems in the rectory. They did not choose to notice the adults! The festive mood was broken. But things did not end there. As soon as the guests exited into the street, several cars in which people recognized Vidukle school Principal Skuodis, school party organization head Mockus, state farm party functionary V. Mačiulaitis and others, zoomed from one end of town to the other attempting to recognize the parents and children by the glare of their headlights. The people were amazed and outraged. When young people scream and yell, fight and drink at the cultural center until 4:00 A.M. on Sunday, although all programs must be concluded by midnight Saturday, there is no trace of either the district chairman or the militia. The people have given this incident the popular name "Chile," We feel that such incidents bring dishonor on the Soviet government!
A couple of days later, in the presence of two uniformed militiamen, in a smoke-filled room of the Viduklė Middle School, Principal Skuodis began to interrogate children he had recognized and demanded that they betray their friends in writing. It would be interesting to know how Soviet pedagogy views such educational methods.
We wish to ask, Mr. Secretary: Who are we, South African Blacks or Lithuanians living in our own homeland? Why is a believing person, child or adult, forbidden to visit his spiritual leader, the parish pastor, and visit with him, talk, sing or recite poetry? Where is the crime here? We did not utter anything against the Soviet government. Then why are our children being intimidated and interrogated? Is it only because they have not yet been spoiled? The abovenamed officials should pay more attention to their own children.
Unwillingly, the words burst from our hearts: Lord, when will all this end?
In view of these and many other instances of discrimination, we the believers of the Viduklė Roman Catholic parish condemn such behavior on the part of Soviet officials, as incompatible either with the Soviet Constitution or with the norms of international law or, finally with the elementary norms of decency, and we wish to express our most emphatic protest.
Viduklė, February 28, 1982
(The statement is abridged — Ed. Note)
Signed by 528 believers.
To: First Secretary P. Griškevičius of the Communist Party of Lithuania
A Letter of Protest from:
Father Jonas Bučinskas, Pastor of the Stulgiai Parish, and Father Juozapas Razmantas, Pastor of the Žalpiai parish.
On November 30, 1981, the Rayon of Kelmė Executive Committee surprised us with the startling news that the Rayon of Kelmė Administrative Commission (Chairwoman (Mrs.) Pliuščiauskienė, Secretary (Miss) Dainauskaitė, members Kleivinis (Mrs.) Ščepo-navičienė, Sadauskas, Žikaris) imposed a 50-ruble monetary fine on us because "without clearing it with the rayon executive committee, on November 1, 1981, they organized a demonstration to the cemetery and thereby violated article 50 of the Regulations for Religious Associations confirmed on July 28, 1976, by the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the Lithuanian SSR."
Since the charges against us are virtually identical, we are jointly drafting this protest. The wording of the charges is standard and shows the writer's ignorance. Can religious rites be considered a demonstration? If a demonstration had in fact been held, it would have been investigated by organs other than the administrative commission and that same day, not a month later.
Since the year 835, the Catholic Church has been celebrating the feast of All Saints Day on November 1st and since the year 998, the feast of All Souls' Day on November 2nd when respect is paid to all the dead in the Lord. Therefore, people go to the cemetery on the eve of All Souls' Day to pay respect to their deceased relatives and all the dead (See Apeigynas,Ritual) Part II, p. 368, Vilnius-Kaunas, 1966).
Father Jonas Bučinskas, the Pastor of Stulgiai went to the cemetery privately and prayed there with all the people who had assembled.
Afger making a procession around the churchyard, Father Juozapas Razmantas and his parishioners carried candles to the cemetery to place on family graves. The cemetery is located on the other side of the village road. Therefore, can these collective prayers be considered a demonstration? Of course not. This is an outgrowth of atheist fantasy and fear, an extension of the "pig plague" psychosis.
On what basis do the godless forbid us to observe a thousand-year-old tradition and liturgical regulations? They themselves, without believing in an afterlife and a spiritually immortal soul, have been going to the cemetery since 1966 on the eve of All Souls' Day (!) and in their own way pay respect to the dead. Furthermore, they could have chosen another day.
Almost exclusively, only believers — Catholics — are buried in the Stulgiai and Žalpiai cemeteries. How can the following phenomenon be explained in legal or humane terms: the godless are allowed to go to a Catholic cemetery without incurring punishment, while it is a demonstration and an offense for Catholics to do so. The Church — our spiritual mother — tells us how, when and by what means we are to pay respect to the dead. The supervision of the godless is therefore completely unnecessary for us.
The Constitution of the Lithuanian SSR states: "The citizens of the Lithuanian SSR are equal before the laws regardless of their origin, relationship with religion, type or nature of employment" (Article 32) Why do the godless ignore such a clear article of the Constitution?
"In the interest of the people... the citizens of the Lithuanian SSR are guaranteed the freedom of speech, press, assembly, street processions . . ." (Article 48) Our parishioners are collective farm workers. Therefore, they are the people to whom the said article refers. Thus, why do the godless usurp the rights of the people?
"The citizens of the Lithuanian SSR are guaranteed the freedom of conscience" (Article 50) Therefore, where is that constitutionally-guaranteed freedom, if priests are considered criminals and punished for holding collective prayers? What is the worth of statements by high Soviet officials that the Soviet government does not interfere in internal Church affairs and canon law? What is the worth of a constitutional article if it does not guarantee the minimum of religious freedom it proclaims? Why do the godless act arbitrarily and discriminate against believers if the Constitution is the fundamental law? Over the course of several postwar decades
Lithuania's Catholics have learned to bear all injuries and, with God's help, will bear them in the future!
We feel the time has come to understand that continual discrimination against the faithful brings dishonor upon the Soviet government and compromises atheism. But it will certainly not conquer the Church or the Faith.
We also take this opportunity to state that we view the Regulations for Religious Associations confirmed on July 28, 1976, by the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the Lithuanian SSR exactly as expressed in Document No. 5 of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Right which won the support of two bishops and 520 priests. They are contrary to Church(Canon)Law,the Soviet Constitution and international USSR agreements. We will therefore not observe them, regardless of the sacrifice the godless exact from Lithuania. "You decide whether God wants us to obey you instead of Him!" (Acts 4:19).
December 10, 1981
Universal Declaration of Human Rights Day (The statement is abridged — Ed. Note)
Father Jonas Bučinskas Father Juozapas Razmantas
To: The Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Rayon
of Joniškis Council of Workers' Deputies A Statement from: Father Gustavas Gudanavičius,
Pastor of Žagarė
I wish to lodge a complaint regarding the uncivil behavior of City of Žagarė Executive Committee Chairwoman (Mrs.) Jasienė, employed under your jurisdiction.
1. Jasienė incites believers against the pastor, in other words against me, debasing my authority, urging them to ignore me. Upon summoning Chairman Labanauskas of the Žagarė Church Committee, she ordered him to ignore the pastor because he is merely a hired minister of cult.
I wish to stress that neither Jasienė, the Žagarė Church Committee, nor anyone else hired me to perform religious rites in the Žagarė church. A hierarchy, operating under Canon Law, exists in the Roman Catholic Church. Under this structure, the Pope appoints bishops and the bishops name pastors. I was named to Žagarė by the bishop. I was appointed not only to perform cult rites but also to lead the parish's religious life: teach believers the truths of the faith, celebrate the sacrifice of Holy Mass, administer the sacraments, manage the church. The pastor is thus not a servant of the believers but their leader. Just as you, Mr. Chairman, are not a servant of the rayon but its leader. For in fact servants no longer exist under the Soviet system. There are workers, farmers, civil servants, labor, intellectuals, office leaders. Why did Jasienė feel the need to debase the pastor before his parishioners and call him a servant?
2. Jasienė also slandered me. Voicing her hatred for priests in general, she told that same citizen: "Your pastor has already served a 25-year sentence and wants to serve more."
It is one's personal business whom he wishes to love or hate and I do not claim Jasienė's love. But to vent one's hatred publicly to an individual who has been summoned and is even an ideological foe, is uncivil to say the least. My Christian philosophy commands me to hate vice but love people, even enemies.
According to Jasienė, if I've already "served" 25 years, I must be a bandit disguised in a priest's cassock. But this is real, one-hundred-per-cent slander. Never in my life have I been on trial. It is true that immediately after the war, during that unfortunate "period of personality cult" I was detained, but was quickly released without a trial. Who gave Jasienė the right to treat people in this manner, without knowing all the facts?
3. To bandy words about, to debase a person's dignity seems to be Jasienė's method of operation. She tongue-lashed Chair man Labanauskas of the Žagarė Church Committee, calling him "degenerate." If a man works diligently on a farm and holds a responsible position, if the believers of Žagarė have elected him chairman of the church committee, then obviously he is honorable and not degenerate.
Mr. Chairman, please admonish Jasienė to retract the slander against me. Otherwise, I reserve the right to seek satisfaction via the courts.
Žagarė, December 29, 1981 Father G. Gudanavičius,
Pastor of Žagarė.
When the complaint was investigated, Chairwoman Jasienė denied her words.
To: The Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the Lithuanian SSR.
A Letter of Complaint from: Father Krumpliauskas, Stanislovas, Assistant Pastor of the Kupiškis Roman Catholic Church, res. in Kupiškis, Komjaunimo 5
Headlines, posters, holiday slogans proclaim that the Constitution of the USSR is the most humane in the world.
Therefore I, a priest, a graduate of a Lithuanian Soviet Middle School, having fulfilled my military obligation and graduated from the Theological Seminary in Kaunas, am a full-fledged USSR citizen and should minister freely 10 the faithful. I must therefore perform my duties as required by Canon Law and perform rites as indicated in the Ritual.
Despite the above, the Administrative Commission of the Executive Committee of the Kupiškis Rayon Council of People's Deputies (Chairman B. Paldauskas, Secretary (Miss) I. Skardžiūtė, members V. Semėnas, K. Lunius, (Mrs.) V. Barzdžiūkienė) imposed on me a 40-ruble administrative fine because, in the performance of my duties, I went to pray in the cemetery on November 1, 1981, All Saints Day.
Article 39 of the Constitution of the USSR proclaims that citizens rights and freedoms are guaranteed. Then why am I prevented from performing rites? The Commission reached its decision on the basis of the decree "Regarding the Regulations for Religious Associations" promulgated on July 28, 1976, by the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the Lithuanian SSR, which is inherently contrary to the USSR Constitution and discriminates against believers. But article 51 of those very regulations permits religious processions which are an integral part of services. On November 1st, All Saints Day, all believers go from the church to the cemetery to pray for the dead: it is an integral part of the services. Canon Law and p. 368 of the Ritual published in 1966 by a Soviet printing firm, require the performance of these services. The Commission's ruling noted that "I organized" a religious procession, but it is clear to everyone that since time immemorial it is traditional to go collectively to the cemetery on that day and pray there with the priest. Is it not paradoxical: praying in the cemetery is permitted, but going there with the faithful is not. Is this not derision of believers? Furthermore, non-believers also held a procession that day, but no one punished them.
Article 52 of the Constitution of the USSR guarantees freedom of conscience and forbids inciting discord and hatred in connection with religious beliefs. How can the conduct of communist Bočiulis, assistant principal of the Rayon of Kupiškis V. Rekašius Middle School be interpreted? He keeps the children of believing parents after school for two or three hours, terrorizing hand badgering them in varied ways because they go to church and participate in rites. Every child and his parents can testify to this. He sends teachers to the church to follow pupils, forces pupils to write compositions on their beliefs, as for instance "What is your opinion of religion," etc. Is this not a violation of the consciences of believing parents and children? Does this not instigate hatred against believers? Is not everyone equal before the law? Then why does such a commission not punish him? He is given the freedom to debase, ridicule and denigrate the children of believing parents.
Mr. Chairman, please direct your attention to the injuries inflicted upon me and other believers and see to it that articles dealing with the freedom of faith and conscience in the USSR Constitution and the Helsinki Final Act signed on August 1, 1975, be observed.
December 12, 1981 Father St. Krumpliauskas
The Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Presidium responded in the following manner:
On February 13,1982, the Kupiškis Rayon newspaper Komunizmo keliu (On the Road of Communism) printed a slanderous article "Ko siekia vikaras St. Krumpliauskas?" ("What is Assistant Pastor Stanislovas Krumpliauskas Seeking?").
On February 18,1982, Father Krumpliauskas was issued a written admonition at the Kupiškis prosecutor's office for slandering Assistant Principal A. Bočiulis and violating the Regulations for Religious Associations.
To: Father Antanas Vaičius, Administrator of the Diocese of Telšiai and the Prelature of Klaipėda
On January 26, 1982, Tiesa (Truth) printed an article entitled "Melas iš sakyklos" ("Lies from the Pulpit").
Upon reading this article, we, the believers of Šilalė, are incensed at this additional attack by the godless against our assistant pastor, Father Vytautas Skiparis.
The entire article clearly shows the true face of the godless: vile lies, deceit and hatred. No other organization in the entire world could possibly compare with the godless in barbarism and hooliganism in the press and in life.
In his sermons, Father Skiparis never slanders or lies as the article claims, but tells the truth; he points out the injuries the godless inflict upon believers, he defends our children by forbidding teachers to ridicule them.
The article quotes the words of the Šilalė Church Committee treasurer: "I have never heard of anyone being persecuted for his religious views."
Only the godless and their collaborators could speak in this manner. Believers would never say this, for they personally experience and suffer the injuries of the godless, their slanders and ridicule.
Further in the article, treasurer Juozas Štombergas states: "We, believers, are happy with the Regulations for Religious Associations."
Two Lithuanian bishops and 522 priests have spoken out against these regulations. The entire believing Lithuanian nation has spoken out against them. And we, believers of Šilalė, also speak out against them: We do not need any regulations formulated by the godless for the sole purpose of destroying the Church.
Štombergas states that "the believers of Šilalė have often warned V. Skiparis, have asked him not to insult non-religious people, teachers."
Štombergas cannot speak in the name of the faithful. We believers rejoice that Father Skiparis responds to raving atheists and teachers. We have never had occasion to hear the priest insult anyone. On the contrary, he urges all believers to pray for the godless, to do penance on their behalf.
When reading the Truth article, we find the words of Church Committee Chairman Julius Aužbikavičius: "The believers of our community have petitioned church authorities to assign another priest in V. Skiparis' place, because he is disseminating falsehoods."
Obviously, Aužbikavičius can no longer distinguish between the faithful and the godless. The faithful will never petition Church authorities to transfer their defender. Only the godless and collaborators like Štombergas and Aužbikavičius can make such a request.
We, the undersigned believers, ask Your Excellency to remove Julijonas Aužbikavičius and Juozas Štombergas from the Šilalė Church Committee. We do not need hired atheists, we do not need attackers of the Church. We eagerly await fighters for Christ, fighters for the Church and believers.
February 3, 1982
Signed by several hundred believers of Šilalė