To: First Secretary Petras Griškevičius of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania.
A Statement from: Father Kastytis Jonas Matulionis, son of Leonas, res. in Vilnius, Gorkio 17-6.
On February 17th of this year, Vice Chairman Urbonas of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee came to Kybartai and demanded that Vice Chairman Kostas Abraitis of the Kybartai Church Committee sign a document demanding that I be forbidden to perform my priestly duties in the Kybartai church, allegedly because I am not a priest, have not graduated from the theological seminary, the bishop knows of no such priest, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, the pastor, simply invited me, etc. The Kybartai Church Committee Vice Chairman did not sign this document because decisions about the priesthood are not made by church committee members or government officials but by spiritual authorities.
While the Kybartai, Vice Chairman Urbonas lectured at several organizations and made references to me, slandering me and calling me an imposter.
What is an imposter? The Current Lithuanian Language Dictionary (Mintis, Vilnius, 1972, p. 34) defines "impostor" as follows: 1. One who pretends to be another, illegally claims a title or another's name. 2. One who makes claims, boasts, publicizes himself.
The definition does not apply me: I claim no title nor another's name; I did not boast or publicize myself. This task is performed by Executive Committee Vice Chairman Urbonas himself.
Following his speeches, Vice Chairman Urbonas left the Kybartai Executive Committee Chairman a letter, of which I was later apprised in his office.
Activists for religious freedom and human rights in Lithuania: (left to right, standing) Father Kastytis Matulionis, unknown woman, Mečislovas Jurevičius, Rev. Sigitas Tamkevičius, Antanas Terleckas, Algis Statkevičius, Liutauras Kazakevičius, Eleonora Sasnauskaitė, Gediminas Rickevičius. (Sitting left to right) Algimantas Andreika, Robertas Grigas, Jonas Volungevičius, Kęstutis Subačius.
It states that I, not being a graduate of the theological seminary, do not have a work certificate, do not have the right to work as a priest, do not perform any work useful to society, and will therefore be punished under current laws.
I respond to such an unjust attack as follows:
1. I am a priest; an alumnus of the correspondence school seminary. I have been ordained; therefore, I have the right to perform all the duties incumbent upon a priest.
2. In the Soviet Union, the Church is separate from the state and, therefore, questions dealing with religion must be handled and decided by Lithuanian church authorities. This is what happened in my case.
I have been a priest for some time; I perform all the duties incumbent upon a priest and those who have the power to allow or forbid me to perform them did not forbid or recall me.
Lithuania has a Church province governed by bishops and, as a lawful priest, I belong to them. Neither Urbonas nor anyone else other than the Church, can decide about my priesthood.
As regards the certificate, I wish to state the following: Not a single Lithuanian priest had a certificate after the war. When the government decided it needed certificates, government agencies issued them. My case is similar: if I need a work certificate, let the agencies in charge of the matter issue one, and the question will be solved. Why are slander, threats and provocation of believers necessary and useful?
I am charged with performing no useful work! I do not work among the atheists, but among believers. As you know, Comrade Secretary, believers are in the majority in Lithuania. I perform very useful work.
I am a priest! No one will deprive me of the priesthood, and wherever I am, I will perform the work incumbent upon a priest.
Lithuania has a correspondence school seminary. The current times have given it a stimulus for existence. Not everyone who applies is admitted to the Kaunas Theological Seminary. Therefore, as long as the security police decides on the suitability of candidates to the seminary and sifts them out, the correspondence school seminary will exist. Where must the young men who wish to become priests go study when they are rejected by the Kaunas Theological Seminary?
The only answer and realistic path is the correspondence school seminary.
Our Pope John Paul II attended just such a seminary. I am a priest! Whether Urbonas and those like him wish it or not, it is an accomplished fact. Please don't discriminate against me. I have experienced sufficient discrimination in the past: in 1959 I was expelled from the conservatory for singing in the Vabalninkas church, in 1974 I was ordered dismissed as Director of the Art Gallery, and in 1977 from the Vilnius University Science Library where I worked as an artist.
I then worked as a sacristan, studied and became a priest.
Mr. Secretary, please advise the appropriate agencies to refrain from discriminating against me, and if it is necessary that government agencies register me as a priest, let them do so: let them register me and forward the registration certificate to the following address:
232001 Vilnius, Gorkio 17-6 Rev. K. Matulionis.
February 28, 1982 Father Matulionis
To: First Secretary P. Griškevičius of the Central
Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party A Protest from: The believers of the Kybartai Parish.
We, the believers of the Kybartai Parish, were shocked and stunned at the news that the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee wishes to drive from our church Father Kastytis Jonas Matulionis who serves us so well. Rayon officials are attempting to convince people that the priest who ministers to us is not a genuine priest and does not have the government's permission to work as a priest.
We take this occasion to affirm: since the Church is separate from the state in the Soviet Union, it is inappropriate for government officials to decide which priest is valid and which is not. Second, if despite the separation of Church and state, government permission is still required for a priest to perform his duties, we ask you, as head of the party, to order the appropriate government agencies to issue Father Kastytis Jonas Matulionis the necessary permit. This priest is very necessary for our parish and we will not allow him to be driven from Kybartai.
February 28, 1982 Signed by L033 residents of Kybartai.
On March 30, 1981, Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis, residing in Vilnius, at Gorkio 17-6, was urgently summoned several times to the Republican Prosecutor's Office to see Assistant Prosecutor Bakučionis.
At the beginning of July 1981, Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis was visited by a militia official who brought a document from the Vilkaviškis Rayon militia, requesting an investigation into whether the named priest is registered and lives at the indicated address, where he works, whether he believes in God, etc. When he failed to find the priest at home, the militiaman questioned a visiting relative. On his way out, he left a summons for Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis to appear at the militia department on Dzerzinski Street at 8:30 A.M. on July 16th and 17th.
On March 18, 1982, Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis found in his mail box in Vilnius at Gorkio 17-6 a reminder to appear at 10:00 A.M. on March 18th at the office of the Vilkaviškis Assistant Prosecutor P. Bogušauskas.
In none of the above instances did Father Matulionis appear at the aforementioned government agencies because he had committed no offense. All the summonses had but one purpose: to blackmail the priest who was ordained without government permission.