THE ARCHDIOCESE OF VILNIUS
As 1972 was ending, approximately 10,000 copies of the Bible—the New Testament—were printed. In February, 1973, priests were able to obtain them from the curias. Pastors of smaller parishes received only a few copies. Larger parishes received ten to twenty copies. It is said that an average-sized parish received ten copies. Two copies of the New Testament were allotted to each parish church, two to each priest, and as for the rest, the pastor had the right to distribute them at his own discretion among the more active Catholics. On the average, each Catholic was entitled to one page of the New Testament!
People say that when the New Testament was being printed at the Vaizdas Printing House, workers for the project were selected only from Party members. Despite their "loyalty" to the authorities, a substantial number of copies of the New Testament disappeared from the printing house.
When the New Testament came out, certain atheists in Vilnius, pretending to be Catholics, attempted to buy it from the pastors so that as few of them as possible would be left for believers.
Some Catholics were happy with the New Testament, others criticized the translation, and still others said: "We won one ruble's worth but lost ten rubles' worth." After all, such a limited edition of the New Testament will be of little practical use, but the Soviet government will utilize it for propaganda purposes—see what freedom of the press there is in Soviet Lithuania!
The Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party took a great number (we lack exact information) of copies of the New Testament. For propaganda reasons, many New Testament books were sent to Lithuanians abroad, to dignitaries of the Catholic Church, and others. Many copies of the New Testament went to non-Catholic Christians, and several hundred were reserved for the theological seminary.
Speaking at a plenary election meeting of the committee for cultural ties between Lithuania and Lithuanians abroad, H.E. Bishop R. Krikščiūnas explained that "Catholics in Lithuania publish any religious books they need... Here, still smelling of printer's ink, is a very significant publication—Šventojo Rašto Naujasis Testamentas [New Testament]. The Bishop's statement produced the following reaction by Catholics: "We have no religious books!" That was how the petition from Lithuania's Catholics to K. Tumėnas, the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs originated.
Numerous letters from various corners of Lithuania began to pour into the Books by Mail Bookstore, requesting, "Send us the New Testament." Unfortunately, everyone received a negative reply.