Upon examination of the 1985 Catholic Calendar-Directory, one notices certain mistakes and discrepancies from last year's Catholic Calendar-Directory. For example, in the list of bishops in Lithuania, there is no mention as there was earlier of their function. (Also the administrators.) This is noted only at the beginning of the list of clergy of each diocese. Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius is mentioned only in the list of clergy in Žagarė, and his title as Apostolic Administrator of Vilnius is not mentioned, even though last year he was mentioned briefly in the general list of bishops in Vilnius, Lithuania. This was done at the direction of Commissioner for Religious Affairs Petras Anilionis.
The list of judges of the Archdiocese of Vilnius should include the name of Father Donatas Valiukonis — as a matter of fact he is functioning, but in the list given in the Calendar he is not mentioned. Anilionis most probably dislikes him because he interfered with the uncanonical elections to the Priests' Council of the Archdiocese of Vilnius.
In the Liturgical Prayerhook published in 1984, the late Father Pranciškus Masilionis is not mentioned as the author of the hymn, "Radau bičiulį" ("I Found a Friend") Father Masilionis also has never been liked by the atheists.
On June 28, 1985, Commissioner for Religious Affairs Petras Anilionis invited the bishops and administrators of dioceses to Vilnius. The Commissioner himself spoke to them angrily and aggressively. The first topic which Anilionis touched upon was the chosing of candidates for the seminary in Kaunas.
The state, "has the right to interfere because the Church functions within the state", Anilionis emphasized at the beginning of liis talk. A number of the candidates proposed is unsuitable. In proposing candidates, one must pay attention to their political orientation, how their parents behaved during the German occupation and post-war years (The parents of candidates entering now were then, in most cases still teenagers or children. — Ed. Note) to make sure that they were not extremists. "For instance," Anilionis continued, "on the occasion of a first Mass at Father A. Balaišis' in Saločiai, one of the speakers said, 'A priest must not only recite prayers, but also be a fighter for Chinch and country!' Which do you wish to have?" Anilionis ironically asked the bishops, "priests or fighters?" (Here one recalls the warning of Christ regarding those who only pray: "Not everyone who says, Lord, Lord will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven". — Ed. Note)
Anilionis recited a whole litany of candidates to the seminary who, according to him, were unsuitable, e.g., Julius Sasnauskas, who had been active in Antanas Terleckas' and Father P. Masilionis' groups, and had been sentenced in 1980; (He did not even have the opportunity to submit his application to the seminary. — Ed. Note). Saulius Kelpšas, organizer of anti-state activities (Last year some seminary professors tried to accuse him of activities against the spiritual authorities. — Ed. Note). Adolfas Teresius — Father Alfonsas Svarinskas' emissary.
Also called unsuitable were Kazimieras Stulgys, Vidmantas Striukas, Lionginas Virbalas, Jonas Vailionis and others, on account of their acquaintance with zealous — in the words of Anilionis, extremist — priests. "Let the bishops not talk with or ordain such men. This is a personal reminder to Bishop Sladkevičius, who has ordained many such candidates to the priesthood. In the future, this will not be tolerated!
"As many illegal priests as are ordained, by that number the quota of seminarians-admitted that year will be decreased. The bishops have to guarantee that future priests not be extremists. Those pastors who recommend extremist-oriented priests to the seminary must be disciplined. The quota presently established is thirty candidates annually. Don't believe Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius who claims that it was thanks to letters he wrote that the quota was increased.
"If extremist-oriented seminarians become the majority in the seminary, the question of closing the seminary will be raised," threatened Anilionis. "For instance, seminarians V. Liuima and A. Luote brought anti-Soviet literature to the seminary (i.e., Juozas Girnius' books Žmogus be dievo — Man without God and Idealas ir laikas — Ideals and the Times — Ed. Note). For that, they were liable to seven years in prison, but we contented ourselves with expelling them from the seminary. (Orders in the seminary are to forbid seminarians to have typewritten material; for spiritual reading, only outlines of various disciplines and literature published during the Soviet era are allowed. — Ed. Note)
Anilionis expressed annoyance that unsuitable candidates were being proposed as instructors in the seminary, while "suitable" candidates (Father Bronius Bulika) are blocked by Bishop Sladkevičius. Allegedly, candidates recommended by the bishops: M. Petkevičius, Mintaučkis, J. Tunaitis and B. Strazdas are either old or ill or uneducated. Here Bishop Sladkevičius interrupted; for that he was sternly reprimanded by Anilionis. Father Vaclovas Aliulis, who is neither ill nor old nor uneducated was proposed. To that, Anilionis responded, "You do not know Aliulis! He does not know how to associate with seminarians, fie will never be allowed into the seminary. Besides, he refused when the government wanted to send him to Spain, and now he has enough to do."
Anilionis demanded that the bishops not interfere in the seminary, in the education of seminarians or in deciding the suitability of seminarians for the priesthood and choice of instructors, saying that this was exclusively the business of the seminary rector. The seminary is an independent institution (Thus Anilionis requires that the bishops disregard Canon Law Nos. 253, 259 and 263 — Ed. Note).
The Commissioner expressed annoyance at the fact that the bishops do not stop the activities of extremists in Church life. For instance, Bishop Sladkevičius has not straightened out Father Rokas Puzonas and Bishop Vaičius, Father Vytautas Skiparis and Antanas Beniušis. In the church at Žagarė, a show was produced for the Jubilee of Saint Cashnir. In Girdžiai, signatures were collected and in Viduklė, an anti-Soviet nest has been organized under the leadership of a woman. If this continues, it will be necessary to start closing churches.
Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis has been re-arrested because in a sermon, he recounted his impressions from prison. As far as the Commissioner knows, Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis was introduced to Kybartai by Father Algimantas Keina and Donatas Val-iukonis. (This is an untruth, fabricated by Anilionis to set the bishops against these priests. Unfortunately, it worked: One of the hierarchs remarked at this point, "Oh, those activists!" — Ed. Note)
He complained that too much was being charged for officially published prayerbooks, e.g., in Joniškis and the church of Žvėrynas in Vilnius, but they do not want to pay into the Peace Fund. Speaking of the Peace Fund, the commissioner complained that the situation is tolerable only in the Archdiocese of Vilnius, where one parish collects 93.10 rubles. Things are bad in the Dioceses of Kaunas and Vilkaviškis where the average parish only collects 46.20 rubles. Panevėžys, 41.60 rubles; Telšiai, 40 rubles and Kaišiadorys, 35.30 rubles. In the opinion of the Commissioner, every parish should allot 100 rubles for the Peace Fund.
Anilionis scolded the bishops for not participating in the Fortieth Anniversasry of Moscow's victory, April 17-19, organized by Patriarch Piman. Bishop Vaičius said, "Our representative, Archbishop Liudas Povilonis, was there." The archbishop said that he represented only himself.
Anilionis continued to berate the bishops, expressing dissatisfaction that Bishop Sladkevičius does not always inform him where and when he goes to which parish. He cast it up to the bishops that they submit pastoral letters to him too late for his examination; that is, censorship. Unexamined letters will not be allowed to go to the Vatican. If the Vatican makes reactionary commentaries about priests who have died, then telegrams concerning the death of priests also will not be allowed through. After the conference, the archbishop thanked Commissioner Anilionis "for this brainwashing".
On May 28, 1985, Commissioner Petras Anilionis came to the Chancery of the Diocese of Kaišiadorys where he arranged "a conference" for the deans of the diocese, who had been summoned there. Anilionis was dissatisfied with the behavior of the pastor of Giedraičiai, Father Viktoras Cukuras, who, in the words of the Commissioner, arranged on May 5 in Giedraičiai a commemoration of the 500-year Jubilee of Blessed Mykolas Giedraitis. "Worse still," the Commissioner complained, "he invited extremist priests Rokas Puzonas and Kastytis Krikščiūkiaitis who prevented the people from praying. . . The Lithuanian national anthem; Lietuva Tėvynė Mūsų ("Lithuania, Our Fatherland ") was sung (the hymn was not sung — Ed. Note) and Maironis' Lietuva Brangi, Mano Tėvyne ("Dear Lithuania, My Fatherland") was sung. "Why," he asked, "is that necessary?"
Father Krikščiūkiaitis gave an unsuitable sermon in Vepriai on Pentecost, telling the people that his parents had been exiled to
Siberia while he himself and gone hungry, grew up in an orphanage and became handicapped. . . "During the sermon, one must speak only about God," Anilionis explained to the deans.
The Commissioner criticized priests of Panevėžys and Vilnius for not coordinating their efforts in choosing Priests' Councils. "It is not good that people pray not only in church but also in the forest," said Anilionis. "Why did they have to make the Way of the Cross in the Vilnius Calvary? After all, the stations of the Calvary have long ago been demolished, so why walk around in the woods."
During the lecture, the Commissioner boasted to the deans that he knows who is in charge of the underground seminary.
On May 31, 1985, the deans of Kaunas and Vilkaviškis were summoned to a meeting with the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis. Anilionis stated that he would read a report about manifestations of extremism last year among the priests. Anilionis considers Father Rokas Puzonas and Father Antanas Jokubauskas as the greatest extremists. Allegedly, these priests, by their sermons — the one publicly telling how the KGB recruited him as an informer and the other, uninvited, singing the praises in the Churches of Saint Theresa and Saints Peter and Paul in Vilnius of the priests who had been sentenced — are themselves asking for prison. The Commissioner promised that arrangements for them to wind up in prison would be made. "Just think," said Anilionis, "Father Puzonas preached to people who came to Vepriai for Pentecost to receive the Holy Spirit, not about the Holy Spirit, but about himself."
In the opinion of Anilionis, the Jubilee of Saint Casimir went by not badly, there was no great fuss, except for the uproar caused in the Church of SS Peter and Paul by the extremist. A Jokubauskas and his cohorts. "During the incident, a surplice was torn, and that is state property," affirmed Anilionis.
In his talk, the Commissioner touched upon diocesan Priests' Councils: In his opinion, in the dioceses where there is a strong hand, all is well. Allegedly, it was only because of a weak hand at the helm that in the Diocese of Panevėžys, two councils materialized while in the Archdiocese of Vilnius, as many as three.
Speaking of Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis, Anilionis affirmed that he had, by his behavior, been asking for labor camp. (It is strange that after his arrest, some priests spoke in the same words.)
The Commissioner blamed Father Juozas Gražulis for publicly urging the faithful to sign a petition to defend the arrested priests.
The Commissioner ridiculed the underground seminary. "What kind of seminary is it: is not Father Antanas Šeškevičius the entire faculty?" said Anilionis.
The deans, for the most part, remained silent. After the lecture, there were refreshments for all.
In the spring of 1985, the office of Petras Anilionis sent its representative to Kretinga to give a lecture to members of church committees. The lecturer ridiculed mature people for relinquishing to children and youth "places belonging only to them" — the duties of altar servers. According to him, it was embarassing even to see how at the tinkle of a bell in the hands of children elderly people fall to their knees. In the opinion of the lecturer, old people should serve at Mass and not "kids"
On June 4, 1985, the diocesan deans and vice deans were summoned to the diocesan chancery at Telšiai on instructions from Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis. Anilionis, speaking about the Priests' Councils of the Dioceses of Vilnius and Panevėžys affirmed that priests do not agree among themselves, that there were several elections to the Priests' Councils, and so in these dioceses an abnormal situation developed: in one there were two and in the other, as many as three.
The Commissioner stated to the deans that in electing Priests' Councils, thatf the pastor of Šeduva (Diocese of Panevėžys) acted contrary to Canon Law and urged others to do so. According to information in the possession of the Commissioner, Canon Antanaitis accompanied to Aušros Vartai (Gate of Dawn) in Vilnius Father Antanas Jokubauskas, who spoke from the pulpit during the festival uninvited.
It is in the Diocese of Telšiai, comparing it with other dioceses, that there are the greatest number of parishes without priests. Anilionis dared to explain to the deans that the bishops of Lithuania had agreed in advance to leave one diocese without priests so that they might be able later to proclaim abroad that it was the fault of the government that there was a shortage of priests in the diocese. When Father Palšis asked why the priests arrested without cause were not released, the commissioner retorted that "they asked for it" and so, they would not be released.
In the spring of 1985, the church committees of twenty from the rayon were summoned to the Biržai Rayon Executive Committee for a talk. They were addressed by a lecturer sent from the Office of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, The lecturer affirmed publicly by name that one priest working in the rayon has a mistress and a child. He said all this in spite of the fact that Soviet courts and even the Supreme Court of the LSSR never certified the aforesaid accusations for lack of witnesses. Strange logic: Those who doubt the basis for the sentencing of the priests are accused of being anti-Soviet and disrespectful of the law. (A couple of years ago, the representative of the LSSR Supreme Court, Ignotas, spoke similarly over television about those who themselves pray publicly for the priests under sentence and who urge others to pray for them.)
Nevertheless, by decision of the same Supreme Court, a lecturer is sent to various rayon to give official lectures.
This does a disservice to atheistic propaganda.
On April 2, 1985, committees of twenty of churches in the rayon were summoned to the Šakiai Executive Committee. The meeting was conducted by Vice Chairman for Religious Affairs, Olšauskas. At the beginning, the speaker said that he had been a judge for ten years, and in his career he had tried some cases in which it had been necessary to punish individuals for not keeping the law regarding religious cults, so he indicated that the purpose of the meeting was the need "to clear up all possible confusion so that there would be no unpleasantness in court".
Vice Commissioner Olšauskas was disturbed by priests who had completed the underground seminary, calling them "imposters" who had not completed their education and were without Orders. They were criminals of various sorts, many of whom had been in jail for breaking Soviet law or were even now serving sentences there. "And you go to confession to them!" said the speaker, wondering.
As an example, he used Father Jonas Kąstytis Matulionis, sentenced for an All Souls' Procession. He recalled that there are times when pastors employ such priests as sacristans and organists, and then the latter work in church as priests. In such cases, not only the pastors would be punished, but also committee members, warned Vice Commissioner Olšauskas He instructed them that committee members seeing a strange priest in church are supposed to check to see whether lie has a registration card and If he has none to put him out of church.
The church is the house of prayer, and you must be on guard lest the priests use it for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda, which often happens, the speaker continued, and he read a number of sermon excerpts taken out of context, in which statement are made against the arbitrariness of atheists (officials or teachers). Olšauskas called these vulgar attacks against the entire Soviet government. Among such priests, the lecturer mentioned the Dean of Ukmergė, Father Antanas Danyla, and the pastor of the parish of Josvainiai, Father Leonas Kalinauskas, saying that the faithful themselves were dissatisfied with them, and petitioned the bishop and Commissioner for Religious Affairs to remove them.
Olšauskas raged against Father Kalinauskas for allowing Petras Paulaitis, who had returned to Lithuania after long years of imprisonment, to speak in church. The Commissioner characterized Paulaitis as a hardened foe of the Soviet government. "You see what the priests turn your houses of worship into, and what they use them for — for spreading anti-Soviet agitation and as theaters for showing films: not long ago, a film was shown in the church of Šakiai, itself. "Are there no film theaters in Šakiai, or perhaps there is a lack of films?" Commissioner Olšauskas emoted.
The lecturer stated that priests can perform religious ceremonies only in church and in the cemetery, and are allowed to visit the sick in the hospital only in the event that there are separate facilities. For the catechizing of children and visitation of believers, priests, according to the assistant, will be punished just as strictly. Finally, using a catechism and the scriptures for help, the assistant commissioner tried to convince members of parish committees that all government is from God; therefore it is necessary to respect it and to obey its laws.
After such and similar commands and demands, the floor was opened for questions. Members of the parish committee would not agree that priests should be forbidden to teach children catechism. After all, that is what they had trained for, to teach us believers, while parents do not have enough time or knowledge and have forgotten much. . . "Why may religion be taught only by one who is not properly trained? How would it look if someone issued a law forbidding doctors to treat people, turning over the healing function to people who knew nothing about it?!" participants in the meeting asked the lecturer.
To this question, the lecturer shot back angrily, "Whether it appears as a paradox to you or not is your business, but there is a law so it must be observed strictly, and if children began to be taught by such priests as Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius, Matulionis or others like them, they would teach those children who knows what. . .You yourselves have finished Middle School and you can very well teach your own children religion (As though in school there was talk, not against religion, but in favor of it), and if that's not enough for them, there is the seminary," Olšauskas replied to the member submitting the question.
The assembled faithful asked the assistant commissioner whether a grandmother may not teach her grandchild religion. The assistant commissioner shot back that no, only the father and mother have the right to teach religion.
From the audience came the question: "Is it true that priests, during their sermons, crudely attack the government as you said in the beginning of your talk? I never heard such things. Perhaps this is just something invented by the atheists? You yourself go to Šiluva and the Calvary of the Samogitians, so what kind of anti-Soviet propaganda was conducted there?"
"And what gives you the right to call firm evidence atheistic inventions? You can be sure that the law protects the rights and privileges of atheists as well as believers. So for such libel, you can be punished," Assistant Commissioner Olšauskas attacked the questioner.
Participants in the meeting, scandalized by such rudeness on the part of the assistant commissioner, began retorting from their places. . . One woman standing up, said, "If you atheists are so easily offended, why do you yourselves insult the believers?. . . Because my daughter went to church, her teacher stood her up before the class, called her a church-mouse, an old woman, backward, and afterwards, taking her to the faculty room, continued to taunt and threaten her. My girl came home weeping. By what right was this done?"
One man asked, "They pressured my son the same way, threatening that all roads would be blocked for him if he did not join the Communist Youth Organization. Do teachers have the right to act like that?"
When the meeting was over, a representative of the Rayon Executive Committee stated: "Now let us thank our speaker with a round of applause for conducting such an interesting and substantive discussion." But the participants in the "discussion" hurried out of the hall as if they had not heard the suggestion to thank the speaker.
On April 10, 1985, representatives of rayon church committees were summoned to the Skuodas Rayon for consultation. The lecture in the presence of Vice Chairwoman Mrs. Ložienė of the Rayon Executive Committee, district chairpersons and other government representatives was delivered by Kizas, a representative of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs. The speaker's purpose was to report on transgressions against the laws regarding religious cults, perpetrated in the republic during 1984.
Among transgressors of the law was mentioned Father Pudžemis, the parish priest of Mosėdis, in the Rayon of Skuodas, who during a sermon had urged the faithful not to read atheistic books. The lecturer crudely libelled the imprisoned priests Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas Kąstytis Matulionis, calling the suggestion to pray for them a crime
Kizas furiously attacked priests who have completed the underground seminary, calling them false priests and imposters, and he demanded that parish executive organs forbid them to preach or perform other religious ministrations. He considered as crime the organizing of children's Christmas parties at church, processions to the cemetery on All Soul's Day, the collecting of signatures on behalf of the jailed priests, traffic in religious articles in churchyards, and even the explanation of religious truths during the sermon. Kizas mentioned a host of examples in which he considered every statement by a priest concerning offenses by atheists, teachers or government officials against the faithful to be abuse of the pulpit, and at the same time, a crude transgression of the law.
Vice Chairwoman Ložienė of the Rayon Executive Committee expressed embarrassment that only the evangelicals allotted a portion of their collection, to the Peace Fund, and urged other congregations to follow their example. The vice chairwoman admitted observing the funeral of the pastor of Truikinai, Father Konstantinas Petrikas, for purposes of spying, going to Šatės to investigate that children were not being taught religion in church, to watch services on November 1 (The Feast of All Saints' — Trans. Note), to see whether there would be a procession to the cemetery. Lecturer Kizas affirmed that only the parents themselves have the right to teach their children religion, and upon attaining majority, the young people can study in spiritual schools.
Here Kizas listed all the spiritual schools of the various faiths operating in the Soviet Union, of which just two are Catholic, the seminaries of Riga and Kaunas, hypocritically stated that the number of students is set by the seminary administration and that the government helps in every way, providing the seminary with the necessary land, etc.
On April 12, 1985, a meeting — briefing session — of parish committee members from the rayon took place at the Kaišiadorys House of Culture. The meeting was headed by a representative of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs and by the Vice Chairman of the Rayon Executive Committee, Kaubrys.
The speakers began the meeting with the standard talk about freedom of religion, and the broad freedoms of believers, which they immediately negated with an endless list of various prohibitions: "Children under the age of eighteen have no right to assist the priest at Mass or other services, sing in the choir, participate in processions, these things will be strictly monitored," said the speaker. He warned that those disobeying would be disciplined, but he did not specify who would be disciplined — the children, their parents or the pastors of the parishes.
Upon inquiry why minors were forcibly enrolled in the Little Octobrist and Pioneer organizations without even their parents' knowledge, the speaker angrily retorted, "This is not the place for politicking! That's not why we asked you here!"
Responding to some other questions, he explained that they do not know anything because everything is done from Moscow and the Vatican.
Kiaukliai (Širvintai Rayon)
On March 22, 1985, Father Rokas Puzonas, pastor of Kiaukliai, was summoned to the Širvintai Rayon Office of the Prosecutor. Waiting for the priest in the Prosecutors Office was the Assistant Prosecutor for the Republic, Jurgis Bakučionis, who gave the priest another warning regarding infractions of the Regulations for Religious Associations. In the warning, Father Puzonas' "transgressions" were itemized: group catechization of children, the All Souls' Procession to the cemetery and "hero-worshipping particularly dangerous state criminals' .
It particularly displeased Prosecutor Bakučionis that Father Puzonas urged the faithful to pray for the sentenced priests Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas Kastytis Matulionis, and mentioned them in his sermons. The official was offended also by the exhibit in the church of Kiaukliai, with the above-named priests' photographs. "It is permissible to pray for them silently, but treating them as martyrs of the Church constitutes agitation against Soviet law. You thereby show that you want to follow in their footsteps." Bakučionis said.
Father Puzonas explained that the Catholics of Lithuania stand in solidarity with the men who have been sentenced, and that today it is the duty of every Christian to act the way the imprisoned priests acted.
After these words of Father Puzonas, Bakučionis took out two issues of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and began trying to show that it is a publication libeling the Soviet system, and that the imprisoned priests published it, so that they have been sentenced justly.
"But they are now in prison, and the Chronicle is still coming out. This means that it was not they who were putting it out, "Father Puzonas pointed out.
"They collaborated in the publication," the Prosecutor corrected himself. Having read a few excerpts from the Chronicle in which the present government is considered to be an occupational government, and the murder of Father Leonas Šapoka is treated as an act of vengeance of the part of the atheists, Bakučionis tried to show that this is not so. To the priest's question how it would be possible to catechize children without breaking Soviet law, Bakučionis replied that it is permissible to quiz them only one by one. Group catechization in the opinion of the prosecutor is already the nucleus of Catholic schools.
When the priest explained that the teaching of children is a direct duty of priests, and that over 500 priests and two bishops of Lithuania refused in writing to abide by the Regulations for Religious Associations and would never abide by them. Bakučionis stated that no one would pay any attention to that, and the Regulations would not be repealed.
Father Puzonas called the prosecutor's attention to the fact that the atheists brazenly break Soviet law, but no one punishes them for that. As an example, he mentioned that in the Kiaukliai elementary school, believing pupils are forced on Sundays to participate in various programs. Those who do not comply are summoned to the faculty room, interrogated and ridiculed. Believing children are enrolled in the Little Octobrist and Pioneer organizations and atheist groups without ascertaining their wishes or those of their parents. Asked whether Soviet teachers have the right to do so, Prosecutor Bakučionis replied that no one has such a right, but he declared that this is merely the arbitrariness of this or that teacher.
Father Puzonas rejected this lie, saying that it is a universal phenomenon — believing youth are treated this way in all the schools of Lithuania.
To: The Chairman of the Taurage Rayon Executive Committee Copies to: Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Peter Anilionis
The Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Telsiai, Bishop Antanas Vaičius
From: The Committee of the Batakiai Roman Catholic Religious Community
On March 16, 1985, we sent you a petition asking permission to add an extension to the belfry of the Roman Catholic parish church of Batakiai, so that the faithful would have at least tolerable conditions to participate in services. However, to date, we have not received a reply. We therefore remind you again that for fifteen years, we have not had suitable facilities for services. Often, especially on holidays and the occasion of funerals, we are forced to be outside during services in the rain, wind and cold. After all, we are praying in a belfry whose inside area is only twenty-five square meters.
We hear that rayon authorities allege there is a shortage of building materials. That is nonsense! First of all, we shall not need materials from government construction reserves, and if we did, it would be nothing compared to the scale of construction in the Tauragė Rayon. Second, building materials freely sold at building material warehouses would be enough for us. We request and we demand that you immediately send a clear, written reply to our petition of March 16, 1985. If we do not receive an answer within ten days, we will appeal to higher government levels.
We have become so exhausted in such abnormal conditions tor fifteen years that we cannot but remind you that we will not give up until permission is received to build an extension to the belfry.
Do we, the faithful of the Roman Catholic parish of Batakiai, working conscientiously for the government in farm work and other labor, not have the right to have suitable facilities for services?
After all, we are requesting of our rayon officials not alms like beggars, but we are demanding that to which we have a right, which the USSR Constitution and other applicable laws guarantee.
Batakiai, June 11, 1985
Signed by 15 members of the Batakiai
Parish Council (The text is unedited. — Ed. Note)
To: General Secretary of the USSR, Dr. M. Gorbachev The USSR Council of Ministers Council of Religious Affairs, attached to the USSR Council of Ministers
From: Representatives and Faithful of the Church Committee and Faithful of the parish of Gargždai. Klaipėda Rayon, Lithuania SSR
Esteemed Dr. General Secretary, we sincerely ask you for permission to add to the height of our church — a shed — so that forty years after the war, it would not look like a communal farm pig-sty, but like a real church in which there would be enough air, light and space. The Commission for Religious Affairs, attached to the Council of Ministers, gave us the following response to our request:
"Your petition regarding the reconstruction of the House of Prayer has been examined by the Executive Committee of the Rayon of Klaipėda. To decide the question, an appropriate commission was set up with representatives of the Health Department Epidemiology Section and of the Executive Organ of your community. The commission recommended installing a ventilator in your community's building. Department Director E.S. Galustian."
Regarding the commission, we have better information: It was a mistake: They visited the church-shed for three minutes and resolved the whole matter because it had already been decided not to allow the height of the building to be increased, but rather the will of Petras Anilionis. A commission must investigate everything thoroughly and record the facts. The representative of the Health Department
Epidemiology Section should have checked the cubic measurements, the ventilation and lighting, and considered how the ventilator would effect people. But they did nothing.
For we had already asked them earlier (September 22, 1983) in a petition to check everything and to present the facts so that we would have some basis for increasing the height of the church-shed, but the Rayon Executive Committee forbade them to do so. You can see clearly what kind of "competent commission" it was — just a fraud! We appealed to Klaipeda, and they informed us that in a public building there must be at least four meters per person, while in our church-shed there is only one meter of air. Hence, it is very difficult to breathe, people perspire and faint in summer, while in winter, the walls run with moisture.
In the ceiling of the church-shed are holes for a ventilation system, but they are of little help and the installation of a ventilator would be unwise, since it hums like a siren and nothing can be heard. That is how it works in the little church in Klaipeda. In ours it would be still worse, since it is a low-roofed shed. The ventilator would drive the people from that tiny little church. We therefore protest against the suggestion to install a ventilator; adding to the height is the only sensible solution.
If there was single representative of the church committee on the commission, he could not have been speaking for the whole committee and for thousands of the faithful, since he never consulted with the others. Therefore, we all protest against him: We have a democracy, not an aristocracy.
We request permission for adding to the height, not only on account of the breathing problem, but also on account of the building's appearance. At present, it looks like a communal farm pig-sty, while we need a building at least vaguely similar to a church. During the war we suffered: The Fascists burned down our tall church. The entire city was reconstructed while our little church remains as it was after the war.
We are now celebrating the fortieth anniversary of victory. That little permission would be just the gift of the government to us laborers in the fields and factories. A humane government would itself offer its workers better living conditions. The Soviet Constitution emphasizes, "The Communist party of the Soviet Union exists for the people and serves the people (Par. 6)." Adding to the height would not constitute construction of a new church. The roof is supported by columns. They need only to be extended, and one pair to be raised, most likely, reinforcing them from the outside with bricks: the foundation does not have to be touched at all.
Not to allow the extension of the columns means not to show your workers any good-will, when there is so much talk about freedom of religion and humaneness.
Honorable Dr. General Secretary, we ask you sincerely to show us some humaneness, let us raise the roof of our church-shed.
Enclosure: Photograph of the church-shed of Gargždai.
Our address: LSSR 235840 Klaipėdos Ray. Gargždai Tilto 1
April 14, 1985
Signed by 651 of us, for thousands
The parish of Gargždai had a tall wooden church, but in the beginning of the war, the Germans burned it down. The faithful built a temporary church out of a shed. Determined to erect one of masonry, they made a great quantity of large cement bricks. Until now, however, it has been not only impossible to erect one of masonry, but the Communist government does not even allow them to raise the roof of the shed, even though thousands of the faithful have repeatedly been requesting permission for several years. They request neither building material nor financial assistance, but only a permit, but even this they are not granting. In this way, they show what kind of freedom of religion it is which they loudly proclaim and what kind of humanism. This could all be seen from the petitions of the faithful.
To: The Lithuanian SSR Council of Ministers
From: The Church Committee and Faithful of the Parish of Gargždai, Rayon of Klaipėda
On August 19 of this year, we addressed a petition to you asking for permission to increase the height of our church-shed. We received a notice that Commissioner for Religious Affairs Petras Anilionis had not considered the petition sent to him by you, and that he had forwarded it "according to competence" to the Klaipeda Rayon Executive Committee. He did the same with the petitions from Moscow.
Learning that he had left the disposition of the entire case to the Executive Committee of the Klaipeda Rayon, we went in small groups at least ten times (61 persons in all) to request permission to see the Chairman, and especially the Vice Chairman. He promised to summon the Commissioner for Cults, told them to wait and not to leave; and kept procrastinating. When the petition did not arrive, we went back. Vice Chairman A. Leita told us verbally that he is not giving a permit because they don't have the materials. "You can write all the way to Moscow, and there will still be no permit!"
Every living being fights for its existence and that is what we are doing, because life forces us to: we need air, light and a decent church, not a low shed. We therefore come to you again requesting a permit. Even the Vice Chairman of the Council for Religious Affairs attached to the Council of Ministers of the USSR, seeing our church-shed, said that it is no church, and that it should be remodelled.
We ask not for building materials, but only for a permit to raise the roof; building material we have, as we wrote in our last petition. We would raise the roof at our own expense. So why not allow your workers to arrange things for themselves more comfortably? Now, our little shack looks like an American Negro ghetto next to the multi-storied government building. Is it not a shame to treat believers so?
The Soviet Constitution specifies: "Officials must, at regularly scheduled intervals, consider the suggestions and petitions of individuals, respond to them and take the necessary measures" (Par. 49).
And who is considering our petitions? One jurisdiction passes it on to another, and everything goes around in a circle: The Executive Committee of Klaipeda, receiving through Commissioner Petras Anilionis our petitions returned from all levels, once more calls upon the Commissioner to decide the matter even though he has turned everything over to them, "according to competence".
When did we receive a considered reply in writing within a set time? It looks as though we were without rights. Some believers, therefore, are even saying, "Lets not ask for permission to raise the roof; they'll take away what we have, just as they took the church in Klaipeda," while the Constitution in Par. 49 states: "Every citizen of the USSR has the right to submit to government organs suggestions for improving their function, and to criticize shortcomings in their work."
We believe that the LSSR Council of Ministers has more power than the Executive Committee of the Klaipėda Rayon, and so we respectfully ask you to give some attention to our request and allow the roof of the church-shed, which you see in the photograph, to be raised.
We will not repeat our arguments for raising the roof since we set them forth in our last petition, August 19, 1985. That petition, signed by 1094 persons, we enclose together with the photograph. And now, only the representatives of the church committee and oi the faithful sign on behalf of thousands.
Gargždai, December 12, 1984
Signed by 495 Believers
Marcinkonys (Varėna Rayon)
On January 29, 1985, the late pastor of the parish of Marcinkonys, Father Nikodemas Pakalka, was being buried, after having worked in the parish forty-five years. In order that children and youth would not participate in the priests funeral, work teams and similar programs were organized at the Middle School at Marcinkonys. Especially active was Teacher Severiną.
On April 28, 1985, in the Church of Saint Michael, the fortieth anniversary of the death of Father Alfonsas Lipniūnas was being commemorated. The faithful gathered for Mass. Father Lipniūnas' relatives, acquintances and no small number of youth from various places in Lithuania came. During the solemn Mass, Father Vaclovas Aliulis told those assembled about the life of Father Lipniūnas, his work, his activities, characteristic personality traits: strong faith, ardent love of neighbor and undying enthusiasm, even in the most difficult moments of life. After Mass, the youth recited prayers for the occasion, sang a few hymns and placed flowers on the altar.
When the memorial service was over, one of his friends distributed photographs of Father Lipniūnas to those who had participated.
On March 15, 1985, the Hill of Crosses was badly vandalized. The statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the statue of Mary were damaged. About fifty crosses and shrines were demolished and the glass in shrines and pictures was broken. And who can count the thousands of small standing and hanging crosses and rosaries which were set out in orderly fashion or tastefully hung from larger crosses, bearing within them people's pain or witnessing their gratitude? The night of March 15, they were ruthlessly scattered and trampled in the snow. (The Hill of Crosses is a popular religious shrine repeatedly razed by the government and restored by the people. See Chronicle No. 48 — Trans, note)
Žarėnai - Latveliai (Šiauliai Rayon)
On May 16, 1985, at Pentecost, a small group of about thirty devotees assembled in the vandalized little cemetery of M lėlaičiai. Villagers, intellectuals, children and the youth knelt on the earth excavated by bulldozers, which had already managed to adorn itself with new crosses, and prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary, sang the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary and hymns. After praying, one young man read these verses:
. . . Here brooded Christ with His hands manacled,
in the poor home of wooden wayside shrines,
but they decided to take from Him His shelter
just as from the Lithuanian in strange surroundings far away
When steel tractors attacked the cemetery
crumbling the bones from parents caskets,
what the cossacks' sword had not cut down —
was finished by the blindness of their unworthy descendents.
The wooden sun-rays split beneath the sedges,
the hirelings of violence smashed the little shrines,
and sank the legacy of their forebears in the swamps.
And the martyrs of freedom mourned,
But wounded hearts again cultivate hope.
And the broken cross announces He will rise.
It urges us to love the dawn of the third day,—
Lithuanian will survive Siberian glaciers.
As they gathered and departed, the faithful were closely watched and were photographed by four civilians, one of them KGB Agent Slankauskas, from Šiauliai The KGB men showed no rudeness and kept their distance, approaching nearer only after people had finished praying and had begun quietly conversing.
At the foot of the largest cross, together with lighted candles, were placed the bones of those interred here,which had been dug up in bulldozing the cemetery. In among the broken-off trees arose re-constructed crosses, the symbols of Samogitian resilience, loyalty to the faith and to the nation. After singing Marija, Marija, the people dispersed.
Tryškiai (Šiauliai Rayon)
During the night of May 2, 1985, unknown culprits tore up the Stations of the Cross in the churchyard of Tryškiai. The glass frames of the stations were pried open and some of them broken. The pictures were torn from the frames and scattered about the churchyard; they had been painted on canvas, copies of the Stations of the Cross by an Italian artist.
The Village of Geniai (Alytus Rayon)
On January 15, 1985, a KGB agent showed up at the home of the Baciuškas family, living in the Village of Geniai. The chekists wanted to know where their son Algis worked. When the mother told them that he was working at the packing house in Alytus, the KGB agent said that he was working not only at the packing house, but also moonlighting distributing religious newspapers. The mother began weeping and repeated that it was not so.
"We know that he is a good worker, a believer; let him go to church and pray, just so he doesn't get involved in suspicious activities," the KGB agent told the mother. As he was leaving, the chekist threatened, "We'll round them up one by one!"
In the neighborhood, the KGB agent asked whether the Baciuškas family has relatives abroad, whether it received packages and whether the priests visit them often. At the communal farm office, the KGB agent stated, "We'll neutralize the Gražulises, and the same fate awaits Algis. It's just too bad that he's so young!"
Pabaiskas (Ukmergė Rayon)
Before Easter, 1985, Chairman Boškevičius of the District of Pabaiskas told Secretary Janina Jankauskaitė of that same district to go to the church Easter morning and get at least an estimate of how many people participate in the services, how many automobiles are parked at the church and what the pastor will be speaking about in his sermon. Miss Jankauskaitė categorically refused to do so. Then the chairman went to his brother, Boleslovas Boškevičius a factory worker, asking that he, participating in the services himself, would learn everything and report in writing. Boleslovas Boškevičius being a believer, did not carry out the chairman's commission completely.
Miroslavas (Alytus Rayon)
On Easter, April 7, 1985, in the church of Miroslavas, the faithful collected signatures to a petition addressed to the Pro secutor of Lithuania, demanding that the priests Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas Kastytis Matulionis be released, as well as others innocently sentenced for their religious beliefs.
As they were collecting signatures, Jurgis Grubliauskas, Chairman of the Miroslavas District, came into the churchyard. Calling aside those collecting signatures, the chairman pointed out to them that collecting signatures on behalf of the imprisoned priests and others is a crime. When the people collecting the signatures explained that defending priests who are innocently imprisoned is not a crime, but rather every decent person's duty, Grubliauskas left the churchyard. Some time later, Grubliauskas informed the rayon government by telephoning about those gathering signatures and he himself, returning to the churchyard, continued forbidding them to collect signatures.
On April 8, 1985, Miss Aldona Raižytė, teacher of Kaunas City Kindergarten No. 46,was relieved of her position: she had gone to work at the kindergarten just a few months earlier. Miss Raižytė had earlier been discharged from a Kaunas City kindergarten.
After a few weeks had gone by, a group of children and youths were standing around in the churchyard of Petrošiūnai after evening services. In the churchyard was Miss Raižytė also. Seeing the children, Mrs. Bužinskienė, Vice Chairwoman of the Panemunė Rayon Executive Committee of the City of Kaunas, introduced herself. After asking what they were doing there, she accosted Miss Raižytė, "How did you dare to get a job at the kindergarten with your ideology?"
Mrs. Bužinskienė accused Miss Raižytė of teaching the children catechism, threatened to file a complaint immediately, and began counting the children, but then quickly relented, only threatening to come back to church the next time with the militia... The vice chairwoman suggested to Miss Raižytė that after thinking things over thoroughly, she come to the Executive Committee; she told her to find work, but by no means in any children's institution. Miss Raižytė thanked her for the advice and told her that if, on account of her religion, she could not work in her specialty, she would work as a charwoman in church.
Lithuanian, remember that:
Father Alfonsas Svarinskas
Father Sigitas Tamkevičius
Father Jonas Kastytis Matulionis
Docent Vytautas Skuodis
and others wear the chains of a prisoner that you might be able to believe and live freely.