All the bishops of Lithuania received an invitation from the Vatican Secretariat to pay an official visit to the Holy Father. Among those invited was also the exiled bishop, Julijonas Steponavičius. However, the Soviet government, fearing lest its plans with regard to the Catholic Church in Lithuania collapse, did not allow the exiled bishop to go to Rome, deceitfully arguing that there was too little
time to obtain a passport for travel abroad. If the Soviet government had wanted to, it would have provided a passport for travel abroad within two days.
Povilas Pečeliūnas, having finished his term in camp, was taken to exile in the far north. His present address is: 626806
Tiumenskaya obi. Beresovskiy rayon, pos. Igrim,
ul. Entuziastov d. 16 kv. 13 Pečeliūnas Povilas, Juozo
Since December 19, 1982, Antanas Terleckas has been carrying out his sentence of exile in the far east. His address:
686410 Magadan Omsukchan, pos. Industrialniy Omsukchianskogo r-na ul. Sportivnaya 5-17 Terleckas Antanas
Vaisuva (Kelmė Rayon)
During the night of September 21-22, 1982, culprits broke into the church, but apparently frightened by something, they did no significant damage.
During the night of December 8-9, 1982, someone broke into the sacristy. An amplifier was stolen. The culprits did 350 rubles worth of damage.
During the night of January 2-3, 1983, some culprits, unable to pry open the metal tabernacle of the main altar, carried it away. Later the tabernacle was found pried open in the forest, and in it, a ciborium with a few hosts. Another ciborium full of hosts was taken. In the snow could be seen the footprints of several culprits. With them they had a dog and sled. From this, it can be concluded that they were locals. The faithful informed the militia about the foul deed January 3, but the militia came after noon, when, with the snow melting, there were no footprints left. The culprits were not found.
The night of January 15-16, 1983, in the churchyard, the window of the shrine was opened and the statue of the Blessed Mother knocked over.
During the night of February 5-6, 1983, a small statue of the Pensive Christ was taken from a shrine in the cathedral churchyard.
On February 17, 1983, all the functioning bishops of Lithuania; the Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, Father A. Gutauskas and the Rector of the Seminary, Dr. Viktoras Butkus, were summoned to the Office of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs. Commissioner Petras Anilionis carefully prepared for a lecture, spent about two and a half hours convincing the Ordinaries that black is white and white is black, that is, that the Soviet government is very good, is even concerned for the affairs of the Church, and the nay-sayers, who hurt the Church are the extremist priests.
The Commissioner even manipulated Canon Law cynically, suggesting that the parish Committee of Twenty, formed by the government, is the rightful manager of the parish, and the place of the pastor is exclusively at the altar. Speaking of the seminary, the
Commissioner confirmed that the quota of those entering the seminary would be enlarged if the unofficial seminary stopped operating and there were no "priest - extremists". Rightly, one of the bishops noted that for the unofficial seminary, the Soviet government was responsible: If it had allowed all candidates for the priesthood to enter the Seminary in Kaunas, no one would have trained priests unofficially.
When Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius reminded the Commissioner that some persons strive for too much intimacy with the seminarians, and in this way, trouble them veiy much, to everyone's suiprise, the Commissioner responded: "Let them object to the KGB. Why do they give in?" What hypocrisy! Many of those who oppose the KGB end up rejected.
Before it was sent to the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR, the petition was additionally signed by the following priests of the Telšiai Diocese (See the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Number 55):
Msgr. Bronius Barauskas
Bronius Brazdžius Stanislovas Ežerinskas Kazimieras Gylys Stanislovas Ilinčius Konstantinas Jadviršis Petras Lygnugaris
Juozapas Meidus Juozapas Rutalė Petras Serapinas Henrikas Sirtautas Zigmas Šimkus Leonas Veselis Liudvikas Šarkauskas
Altogether, one hundred thirty priests signed the petition from the priests of the Diocese of Telšiai: two from other dioceses, and 128 from the Diocese of Telšiai (of a total of a possible 135). Father Česlovas Degutis, Father Zenonas Degutis and Father Stanislovas Sakutis declined to sign. Those out of the diocese: Father Juozas Mantvydas and Father Domininkas Bivainius, were not asked to sign. Nor did the Chancery of Telšiai sign.
Lately, the persecution of unofficially ordained priests has accelerated. An attempt is being made to intimidate them, and those who make it possible for them to fulfill their priestly functions.
To: Comrade J. Urbonas
Vice Chairman of die Executive Committee of the Council of Workers' Deputies, Vilkaviškis Rayon
Please acquaint Father Sigitas Tamkevičius with the enclosed warning and return it with his signature or, in case he refuses to sign, the signatures of witnesses.
(Juozėnas signature) Commissioner P. Anilionis
Enclosure: 1 page
Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs Attached to the USSSR Council of Ministers Lithuanian SSR
To: Father Sigitas Tamkevičius
Pastor of Kybartai Catholic Church
On June 10, 1982, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, Pastor of the Religious Association of the Catholic Church in Kybartai, was informed of the warnings from the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs concerning the fact that he invited citizen Kastytis Jonas Matulionis who has completed no spiritual school, has not been ordained to the priesthood, and does not have a registration card, and arbitrarily allowed him to function as associate pastor. The aforesaid citizen, unemployed anywhere, holds Mass under the guise of priesthood, hears confessions, gives sermons of an antisocial nature and presides over church processions and ceremonies.
In the warning, it was pointed out that Father Tamkevičius, by his illegal actions, violated the October 31, 1968 Instructions of the Council for Religious Affairs, attached to the Council of Ministers of the USSR, "Concerning the Survey of Houses of Prayer and Buildings of Religious Associations, and the Procedure in Registering the Executive Organs and Ministers of Cult of Religious Associations', Par. 17, 18, 19. However, Father Tamkevičius has as yet drawn no conclusions.
I again warn Father Sigitas Tamkevičius and require him not to allow to satisfy the religious requirements of believers an individual calling himself a priest, but lacking a registration card. Otherwise, you will be liable to prosecution, and the religious association, on the basis of Par. 35 of the Regulations for Religions Associations, will have its registration cancelled.
February 15, 1983 Commissioner P. Anilionis
I have read the warning. March 11, 1983 Father Tamkevieius
Father Tamkevičius did not sign the warning. The warning was only read in the beginning of March, but a copy was not presented.
To: Their Excellencies, the Bishops of Lithuania
From: The Priests' Council of the Archdiocese of Vilnius
As we know, in April of this year, you will be going to the Vatican for your ad limina visits to Rome. (Trans. Note —All bishops must visit the Pope every five years. Even though Lithuanian bishops had been allowed by Soviet authorities to attend Vatican Council II and synods of bishops, these were the first ad limina visits Soviet authorities allowed.) On the occasion of similar visits in the past, matters pertaining to the Lithuanian hierarchy woidd be decided. Unfortunately, in considering these matters non-collegial-ly (that is, without consideration for the opinion of other bishops and the priests), even in the distant past, painful mistakes would occur, some very difficult to correct, whose sad consequence we feel even now.
We think that during this visit, also, questions pertaining to the administration of the dioceses (specifically that of our capital, the Archdiocese of Vilnius) will be touched on, which are infinitely sensitive, not only to us priests, but also to the faithful of all Lithuania. Therefore, it is very important that such matters be decided, not by some one bishop alone, but by all the bishops of Lithuania, collegially, without in any way excluding His Excellency, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, who unfortunately in the past, was not even informed of plans in this area.
In considering questions pertaining to the administration of the
The bishops of Lithuania pose with Pope John Paul II during their ad limina visit to Rome, April, 1983. From left to right: Canon A. Gutauskas, Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius; Bishop Vincentus Sladkevičius of Kaišiadorys; Bishop Liudas Povilonis of Kaunas; Pope John Paul II; Bishop Antanas Vaičius of Telšiai; Bishop Romualdas Krikščiūnas of Panevėžys (who has since resigned from his duties due to ill health) and Bishop Povilonis' secretary.
Archdiocese of Vilnius, it is self-evident tht to take into consideration the opinion of His Excellency Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, is absolutely essential, for he is, after all, the true ruler of our archdiocese. By deciding these questions without his agreement, great disharmony could be introduced into relations between the hierarcy and the priests.
Vilnius, March 25, 1983
Members of the Priests' Council of the Archdiocese of Vilnius:
Jonas Lauriūnas Algimantas Keina Jonas Vaitonis
Mykolas Petravičius Alfonsas Petronis
Kazimieras Memėnas Edmundas Paulionis Donatas Valiukonis
In February, 1982, the Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Juozėnas, visited the Deans of the Telšiai Diocese: The Dean of Tauragė, Father T. Puzaras; the Dean of Šilalė, Father F. Valaitis; the Dean of Plungė, Father K. Gasčiūnas; Vice Dean of Žemaičių Kalvarija, Father Alfonsas Lukoševičius; the Dean of Mažeikiai, Father Jonas Gedvilą; he also paid a visit to the Bishop of Telšiai, Antanas Vaičius. The purpose of Vice Commisioner Juozėnas was to convince the deans, and through them, the priests and faithful of the deaneries, that the Soviet government, in arresting Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, acted justly.
On February 11, 1983, Vice Chairman J. Urbonas of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee, accompanied by the Chairman and the Secretary of the City of Kybartai, visited the rectory in Kybartai, and attempted to read Father Sigitas Tamkevičius an official warning because on February 6, this year, in the church in Kybartai, signatures were collected protesting against the arrest of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas.
Father Tamkevičius would not agree to hear out the text of the warning because Vice Chairman Urbonas refused to leave a copy of the warnings, and when the official still tried to read it, the pastor left him in the room and went out. Father Tamkevičius stated that it is not his duty to drive the collectors of signatures from the church; this duty can be performed by militiamen and KGB.
On February 10, 1983, Secretary Tėvelis of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Party Committee visited the Kybartai Middle School and went from class to class, speaking to the pupils about Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, under arrest. He argued that the priest had associated with "bandits" (that is, with the post-War partisans of Lithuania), organized the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, processions to Šiluva, etc.
Speaking of Santa Claus, who had visited the children of the Kybartai faithful at Christmas, he deceitfully claimed that the pastor, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, on that occasion tried to rouse the people against the Soviet system and distributed pictures of the flag of bourgeoise Lithuania. (In fact, Christinas pictures were distributed to the children.)
At the end of his talk, the official began to show religious books which the Soviet government had published. He even showed them the lectionary printed on paper obtained from the Vatican, and the Holy Father's encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), also sent from the Vatican. We call attention to the great number of religious books which go, not for priests or faithful, but to commissars whose purpose is to agitate against the Church. Tėvelis unblushingly stated, falsely, that in Lithuania the Soviet government had published more copies of the catechism than of the constitution, but the priests were hiding them in an attempt to arouse in the people a mistrust of the government.
In January-February, Party Secretary Tėvelis and Rayon Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Urbonas visited various factories and organizations in Kybartai, many times, libeling Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. During the meetings, it was claimed more than once that the fate of Father Svarinskas awaits Father Tamkevičius.
Adakavas (Tauragė Rayon)
On February 3, 1983, the Pastor of Adakavas, Father V. Šikšnys was summoned to the Tauragė Executive Committee to see Vice Chairwoman (Mrs.) Ulbienė. Waiting for him in the office, besides Vice Chairwoman Ulbienė, was a man in civilian clothing whom the Vice Chairwoman introduced as "the Deputy". The Deputy would not give his name, even at the priest's request, for an hour and a half, Vice Chairwoman Ulbienė, and the chekist masquarading as a deputy lectured Father Šikšnys for allowing children to go to church, for associating with the youth, for inviting priests to religious festivals without permission of the rayon government, and making repairs in church without their knowledge. Most of all, he was angry, and even threatened with paragraphs from the Code of Criminal Law, because the faithful in church in Adakavas, had signed petitions protesting the arrest of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas. It was the second time that the aforesaid "deputy" engaged in such a conversation with Father V. Šikšnys.
In March, 1983, the Catholic Calendar-Directory was sent out to the priests of Lithuania. Missing from the Directory is the list of seminarians studying at the seminary in Kaunas, which it is essential to include each year next to the list of priests of all dioceses.
The priests of Lithuania cannot understand why the name of the unofficially ordained deacon, Ričardas Jakutis, is included, but not the names of other priests equally unofficially ordained: Petras Naudėnas, Jonas Matulionis, Jonas Boruta, etc.
The Rector of the Seminary, Father Viktoras Butkus, describes in the Directory, life in the seminary from 1945 to the present.
It is understandable that frank truth concerning the seminary would not have slipped through KGB censorship. Those are not the colors in which they would like the face of the seminary to be sketched. What a terrible history would be opened up if anyone recorded how the KGB and the Council for Religious Affairs terrorizes the seminarians and faculty.
Tirkšliai (Mažeikiai (Rayon)
On February 3, 1983, the pastor, Father Vincentas Gauronskis, was summoned before the Rayon Executive Committee. Here he was berated, and warned for speaking in his church about the arrested Father Alfonsas Svarinskas. "When you sentence him unjustly, we will also publicize it", replied the priest.
To: The Commissioner for Religions Affairs, P. Anilionis
From: The Associate Pastor of the Parish of Prienai, Father Antanas Gražulis, Prienai, Gorkio 15
On January 25, 1983, I was summoned to the Prienai Rayon Executive Committee, where K. Morkvėnas gave me your written warning to read, saying that on December 25, 1982, I had libeled cultural institutions (libraries, motion picture theaters and other cultural establishments), and had turned pupils against teachers.
I never libeled cultural institutions, but simply explained that there they do not talk about God, prayer or celebrating Sunday...
I never set schoolchildren against the school, but if the state does not respect the religious convictions of schoolchildren who are religious believers, and of their parents, what else can we do?
I would like to ask: How would the Communists act in those countries where they were subject to destruction? The policy of the Communist government of the Soviet Union not to pay attention to believers, I consider unjust. If, in other countries, e.g., the German Democratic Republic, Yugoslavia and Poland, Christmas is celebrated and schools are not in session that day, why could our government not give some consideration to our beliefs and respect them, when that same government requires respect from believers for its own convictions.
Allow us to celebrate the most important religious holidays which the majority of the residents of Lithuania wish to celebrate, and then there will be no misunderstandings.
Par. 50 of the Constitution forbids the inciting of discord and of hatred in connection with religious creeds. I did not incite discord but only reminded people of the injustice being done to us, when we are not allowed to celebrate one of our most important holy days, Christmas. It is precisely forbidding the celebration of religious feasts which constitutes incitement of discord and of hatred among citizens.
February 18, 1983 Father Antanas Gražulis
In the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Number 56, it was reported that a case was being fabricated against Jonas Sadū-nas.
He was put away in the psychiatric hospital in Vilnius, from which he was released December 2, 1982.
On January 24, 1983, Jonas Sadūnas was summoned to the Prosecutor's Office of the Rayon of Vilnius. Here he was asked whether he did not have government awards or citations. When Sadūnas explained that he had only a citation, Prosecutor Krempovki said that these awards were too insignificant to allow him to be amnestied on the basis on the decision of the Council of the Supreme Soviet on December 27, 1982.
Assistant Prosecutor J. Nenartovch claimed that Sadūnas had written a complaint against Farm Director Petras Dūkštas in vain, since he has the Order of Lenin, and if he had committed a crime, he certainly would have been amnestied. Investigator Juciūtė let Sadūnas read a Bill of Particulars and asked whether he pleaded guilty. Sadūnas replied that he did not admit any guilt. Moreover, five points on the indictment were fabricated, since he had written nothing of the sort.
On February 9, 1983, Prosecutor Krempovski, summoning Jonas Sadūnas, shouted, "In your head, you have not brains, but manure. So in your trial, you will act the martyr, or perhaps you would
Jonas Sadūnas, his wife Marytė and daughter Marija — Vilnius, 1978.
like to play Jesus Christ. You're all alike: your sister and your wife... if you decide to become ill again and do not come to interrogation sessions, I don't care whether you're lying in the hospital. I will personally write out the order for your arrest."
On March 18, 1983, Sadūnas received a document prepared by Interrogator (Miss) R. Juciūtė, in which Sadūnas is accused of libeling Farm Director Dūkštas. The accusation is biased, the facts have not been checked, and in many places, are downright false, seeking to get rid of Jonas Sadūnas, who was on the KGB hit-list.
Josvainiai (Kėdainiai Rayon)
On March 3, 1983, the Pastor of Josvainiai, Father Leonas Kalinauskas, wrote to His Excellency, Bishop Liudas Povilonis, a petition in which, among other things, it states:
"On February 17, of this year, Josvainiai District Chairman Sereikis and Communist Party Secretary Šavelis of the Vienybė Communal Farm, presented for my signature, the written warning of Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis. In it I am warned concerning my part in the Commemoration of the 50th Jubilee of the death of the Lithuanian poet, Maironis, in which the youth participated.
"I was also warned about violating Par. 50 of the Constitution, because I invited the graduates to services, by letter. I told them that the Church is separated from the school, but that the pupils are not, since they are free children of believing parents, able to go to school and to church. I refused to sign this unjust accusation."
On March 14, 1983, the Administrative Commission of the Prienai City Executive Committee, consisting of Chairman Valatka, Vice Chairman Bendinskas, Secretary (Miss) Stankevičiūtė, and members Andriulis and Jaunius, sentenced jubiliarian Father Jonas Palukaitis and Associate Pastor Father Antanas Gražulis forty-five rubles apiece, because they visited residents in the Village of Nova Ūta.
March 18, the aforesaid commission assessed Father Antanas Gražulis an extra fine of fifty rubles for visiting residents of the Village of Klebiškis March 9, even though he had visited no more faithful after March 9.
To: The Prosecutor of the LSSR
The Editors of Valstiečių laikraštis (Village News)
From: Believers of Upyna (Šilalė Rayon)
A P e t i t i o n
Having read in Valstiečių laikraštis on February 15, 1983, the the article, Kyla juodas durnas (Black Smoke Rising) we believers wish to ask, "How much longer will such articles aimed against the Church, the priests and the faithful continue?"
By this article, without any doubt, you wish to turn people against our pastor, Father Vytautas Skiparis. VL Reporter (Mrs.) S. Mockuvienė, under the guise of our name, as believers, hurls entirely unfounded accusations against Father Skiparis.
We the undersigned faithful of the parish of Upyna, must tell you the following:
"We the faithful put up the church with our own hands. It is supported and kept in good repair by our funds. Heating was installed in the church, not by the pastor's decision, but by the decision of all of us faithful, and at our expense. Father Skiparis has been working in our parish for eight months, and not once has it been heard that he would have said anything about a 'Bolshevik government'; never was it known that he would have 'threatened' anyone, or 'violated the Constitution' as reported in the newspaper.
"The article is shot through with a spirit of hatred against our pastor, assisted by lies, deceit and dishonesty.
"Such articles turn people not against priests, but against those who write like this.
February 27, 1983 Signed by 519 parishioners of Upyna"
On March 9, 1983, Pranas Budginas sent the Prosecutor of the LSSR the following petition:
"I was quite annoyed in reading the Valstiečių laikraštis of February 15, 1983, to find, 'my own words' and 'my own signature " where I had never signed, and had said nothing of the sort. How do you dare to act so dishonorably?
"I strongly demand that you make amends for the moral wrong committed against me."
Druskininkai resident Viktoras Burba received news from Afghanistan in the summer of 1982 that his son Rimas Burba, while doing his military service, disappeared without a trace July 7. His mother, hearing the terrible news, became ill for the entire month. In December, two senior army officers visited the Burbas and reported that their son was alive in a neutral country. They told them to write letters, but they the text. Apparently great efforts will be made to have the parents and other relatives ask Rimas Burba in their letters, not to remain in the West.
Mikoliškės (Kretinga Rayon)
The parish church of Mikoliškės is far from the more populous villages; so there are many obstacles for the faithful who wish to go to Mass on Sundays. They cannot make use of bus transportation as the schedule is unsuitable. The people repeatedly appealed to various agencies of the republic, even to government offices in Moscow, asking that they be allowed to rent a bus on Sundays, or to obtain one of their own. However, up till now, matters have not improved.
Lately, they have been renting a bus every Sunday, in which people are taken to church and back to their homes. On February 6, 1983, the Highway Patrol stopped them on their way to church. The passengers were ordered out and the driver, after having his trip sheet and driver's license taken away, was returned to Gargždai. The people reached the church on foot, and returned (for some of them, it was four to thirteen kilometers to church).
In the beginning of 1983, Vice Chairwoman (Mrs.) V. Lozienė, of the Executive Committee of the Skuodas Rayon Council of Workers' Deputies, demanded a list of the members of the church committee. (Mrs.) Lozienė was surprised that the church committee treasury was overseen by Bookkeeper (Miss) Navickaitė of the Rayon Department of Education. On January 7, 1983, Communist Party Secretary (Mrs.) Veitienė of the Department of Education tried to "re-educate" (Miss) Navickaitė, but unsuccessfully. After change in cadre bookkeeping. On January 12 and 21, 1983, two new women workers were taken on in the bookkeeping section, who had no experience of bookkeeping. On February 1,1983, Director Bubliauskas of the Department of Education suggested to (Miss) Navickaitė that she resign from work, and when she refused, she was discharged. After nineteen years as bookkeeper here, and only with high recommendations, she had to leave to make way for newly hired women.
Žarėnai (Telšiai Rayon)
On December 11, 1982, the Pastor of the parish in Žarėnai, Father Alfonsas Pridotkas, wrote a petition to CPSU General Secretary Andropov, as follows:
"The sunset of my life is approaching. In 1983, I will be sixty. On that occasion, I would like to erect a cross next to my house. In this connection, I went to the Rayon architect, and afterwards, to the LSSR Council of Ministers. Everywhere the response was negative. In the last response, they wrote, ' . . .we would like to inform you that the regulations for private construction confirmed June 25, 1975, by Decision No. 228 of the LSSR Council of Ministers, erection of crosses on private plots are not foreseen and not allowed.' (Emphasis by the author of the original.)
"I am shocked by this reply. Even a priest is not allowed to erect a cross alongside his home on the occasion of his jubilee.
"I think that forbidding one to erect a cross alongside his own home contradicts freedom of conscience and the Constitution. Please allow me to erect a cross next to my residence, within the boundaries of the individual lot, on the occasion of my 60th jubilee."