Recently K. Bagdonavičius' collection of literary pamphlets, Dialogai (Vilnius, Vaga, 1984), appeared in the bookstores. From this booklet the faithful of Lithuania learn how on the basis of an interview with the rector of the seminary in Kaunas, the plight of the Church in our country is described in a distorted fashion by the London Dailu Guardian (p. 243).
In it the rector, the Reverend Dr. Viktoras Butkus, recounts how in March, 1982, a new seminary church was blessed. This is not true; that church is not new. In 1982, the seminary had returned to it the Church of the Holy Trinity, which had been taken from it twenty years earlier. After all those years the walls were all that was left of a wonderful church. The beautiful altars were wrecked, artistic paintings and statues were destroyed. The church had been converted into a book depository.
It is thought that the late Cardinal Alfred Bengsch (of Berlin — Trans. Note) helped to get the church back when during his visit to Lithuania, he expressed surprise at the inadequate little seminary chapel which lacked light, air and space.
Father Butkus affirms that in Lithuania there are religious services for young people. In reality, the government allows such services only for seminarians. Everyone knows how the Soviet government reacts against youth retreats, Christmas programs for children, school year openings and youth Masses. All of these things are proclaimed not only as offenses against the laws governing religious associations, but even as anti-Soviet activity. (That was what Father Sigitas Tamkevičius was accused of in court.) The rector further tells us, ". . .Believing youth are allowed to serve at the altar." This is a very deceitful statement. Your attention is called to the fact that he does not say "children", but "youth". The laws for religious associations allow this only for young people over eighteen. If children serve at the altar in Lithuania, it is only because there are priests who ignore those regulations and go by the words of Christ, "Suffer the little ones to come to me."
He rejoices, as though twenty-two seminarians accepted into the seminary in 1982 constituted a large number. Before the war,
Cardinal A. Bengsch in Panevėžys.
there was more than one seminary in Lithuania, and they used to accept many more young men. Besides, it is not clear how many of the twenty-two seminarians will reach ordination. Most likely, it will be much fewer than priests who die that year. This situation recurs year after year, in spite of all the Soviet government's "goodness". Are these conditions normal for the work of the Church?
In the same article is a statement by Father Antanas Dilys attacking the Catholic Church in Poland. How does Father Dilys know that the priests of Poland are more concerned about nationalism than about God? We see this accusation in the atheistic press aimed against the zealous priests of Lithuania.
Regardless of misunderstandings in the past, the faithful of Lithuania evaluate favorably and are interested in the efforts of their neighbors the Poles, also facing difficult conditions to preserve the Faith in their nation.