In the beginning of September, 1985, the Rector of Kaunas Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Vytautas Butkus, warned the seminarians that there should not be any religious books in the seminary except course outlines, "These will be quite enough for you as priests-to-be," said the rector.
Reminding them that two seminarians had been expelled by the seminary administration at the beginning of the summer for reproducing religious books (presently they have been reinstated), the rector asserted that Lithuanian religious books are of dubious value, and asked whether it would not be better to study foreign languages. Obviously the rector spoke thus coerced by the atheistic government, a government which is constantly boasting to the world that in the USSR there are theological seminaries. What would the atheists say if they were allowed to study Marxist philosophy only from class notes, without the help of texts? For the formation of future priests, not only is a fund of specialized theological information important, but also interior formation, and for this, good religious literature is necessary for spiritual reading.
At the beginning of 1985, the underground group of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights sent two protests to government organs.
In the first, they speak out against the interference of the atheistic government in the formation of priests' councils. In the document, it is shown that excuses for such interference based on the Concordat between the Vatican and Independent Lithuania are unfounded. The government atheists try to justify their actions, saying that the Concordat acknowledged the right of the civil government to interfere in ecclesiastical appointments. The aforesaid Concordat speaks only about consulting on the nominations of bishop-ordinaries (but not of apostolic administrators) and of pastors (but not parish administrators, associate pastors, retired priests, etc.), with the president of the republic or the civil government. According to the Concordat, neither the nomination of apostolic administrators or bishop-administrators or of cathedral canons had to be made in consultation with the civil govenment. It is strange that the atheistic government, without signing a concordat with the Vatican, claims that it has broader rights to interfere in the affairs of the Church, the protest indicates.
The second document contains a protest against the arrest of Father Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis and young Romas Žemaitis. The same document comes out strongly against the government atheists' ban against praying publicly for the priest-prisoners, arguing that such a ban witnesses to the fact that in this respect, the plight of the Catholics of Lithuania is more difficult than the plight of the first Christians persecuted in Jerusalem, who, as is written in the Acts of the Apostles, were able to gather together to pray for the prisoner apostles.
On April 11, 1985, in the auditorium of the Middle School XV in Panevėžys, a meeting of representatives from the City of Panevėžys and rayon religious associations took place. The meeting was chaired by Commissioner Petras Anilionis, of the Council for Religious Affairs. At the beginning of the meeting, the Commissioner touched on the question of the Kaunas Theological Seminary. The lecturer expressed annoyance at complaints by the faithful to the government that the latter limits the number of admissions to the seminary. In his opinion, enough new priests are being ordained every year. "This year, actually eighteen seminarians will receive Orders," Anilionis explained. "It seems to me that such a number should suffice for every corner of Lithuania," the Commissioner unabashedly lied.
He went on to name a whole list of "transgressions" against the public order. "It is too bad, but there are still cases in which chiIdren's Christmas parties are arranged in churchyards," Anilionis complained, and as an example, he mentioned the parishes of Alytus and Prienai .
"The church is a house of prayer, and not a hall for various affairs," explained the Commissioner, "the ministers of cult of the aforesaid associations were warned and suitable penalties were applied to them. Know and remember in order that such things might not recur in your associations, because you wi11 be punished according to the law," the Commissioner threatened in a tone that was now obviously raised.
In his talk, he recalled one other "incorrigible" example. In the parish of Vadokliai, Father Juozas Janulis regularly shows religious films in church, and for this it had been necessary to transfer the aforesaid priest from the parish. Because minors and youth are serving Mass, the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs has decided to take appropriate measures also against the pastor of the parish of Šiliai, Father Juozas Balčiūnas, and the pastor of Miežiškiai, Father Kostas Balsys. The public order, according to Anilonis, is being disturbed also in the church of Panevėžys, where five to seven children sing in the choir and regularly serve Mass. "For minors, this is forbidden. When they are adults, no one will forbid it," the speaker frothed.
During the reception, the faithful inquired about publication of a liturgical prayerbook from various religious associations. Anilionis received reinforcing complaints about the lack of religious literature and prayerbooks.
Responding to the questions submitted, the Commissioner tried to give the impression that just recently religious literature of various kinds was published in large editions. According to him, editions were perhaps even too large for Lithuania, which is so small.
During the meeting, the question of processions was touched upon, e.g., in burying the dead. "Such processions disturb the public order, the banners and singers attract attention, and this without any government permission," he continued, at the same time warning committees of religious associations that all this was unnecessary.
The Commissioner was annoyed at Vatican Radio broadcasts in which instances of the persecution of the faithful are mentioned. He considered all that a lie. "In the future, we are going to take strict measures against troublemakers who come along. That's how it was with the priests Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius. We have more such candidates. 'Religion is forbidden! Religion is persecuted!...'" The furious guest was unable to finish his talk.
He spoke also about church repairs and religious instruction of children, "Prepare your children yourselves. You have catechisms. There are enough of them, and don't insist that every member of the family have his or her own catechism. Books must be respected and conserved. I warn association committees that priests are not to teach religion. You parents yourselves must teach them. The committees must pay more attention to the implementation of government regulations!"
The Commissioner avoided answer ing the questions of the faithful directly. The question of freedom of conscience, he equated with the raising of the standard of living. Some questions, the Commissioner for Religious Affairs refused to answer, arguing that on the slip the surname, age, education and religious association of the questioner was not ment ioned.
Naujoji ViInia (Vilnius Rayon)
On June 21, 1985, Secretary Baronas of the Rayon Commission for the Implementation of Religious Regulations presented himself at the church of Naujoji Vilnia, together with two members of the Commission, and issued a summons to the parish pastor, a member and officialis of the Vilnius Archdiocesan Tribunal, who had tested children for First Communion. On September 5, Father Poškus was summoned before the Rayon Executive Committee and accused of violating the Religious Regulations. Father Poškus was given a warning for testing the knowledge of each child in the presence of the entire group where other children could learn from the questions and answers.
On July 5, 1985, into the chapel of the church in Šiluva, where Father Vladas Simaška was testing children for First Communion -- while explaining more difficult truths of the faith -- came District Chairwoman Vanda Galeckienė, Communal Farm Party organizer Antanas Petravičius, Veterinarian Narbutas and a few strangers. Petravičius threatened Father Simaška with imprisonment for teaching the children religion, and District Chairwoman Galeckienė wrote out a citation. The mothers who had brought their children to church began to defend the priest. A disturbance arose in church. Father Simaška did not sign the citations made out by the atheists.
Padubysis ( Šiauliai Rayon)
During the month of July, 1985, into the church of Padubysis, where children were being prepared for First Communion, came Chairwoman Grabažienė of the District of Padubysis, Secretary Kerbedis of the Communal Farm Party organization and Principal Bernotienė of the Middle School. They began warning Father Feliksas Baliūnas that by teaching children religion, he was violating the Regulations for Religious Assoc i at ions.
The pastor explained that it is his duty as a priest to do so. Besides, the officials would do better to worry about how to cope more effectively with drunks. This displeased the visitors, and they sarcastically retorted that it was the priests' duty to cope with drunks and not to teach children. The pastor recalled that it was precisely by teaching children religion that he was fighting for their sobriety and for their decency, while the officials were interfering with him. Father Baliūnas asked the uninvited guests not to visit him for such purposes and not to send committes. A citation for teaching children was sent to the rayon. Sometime later, the pastor was summoned before the Rayon Executive committee, and warned not to teach children, otherwise in the future he would be sternly punished. Besides, he was warned about participation of the youth in Saint John's Eve activities which he had arranged. For the priest to be where young people gather is a serious offense.
Šeduva (Radviliškis Rayon)
This summer, teachers and government officials of Šeduva went about visiting Catholic families with children and warned the parents not to dare allow their children to study the catechism.
This summer Vice Chairman Lankelis of the Rayon Executive Committee, coming into the Varėna parish church, warned the pastor, Father Jordanas Slėnys, a consul tor of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, not to teach children catechism. If he does not listen, his permit to redo the roof of the church with tin could be revoked.
Gargždai (Klaipėda Rayon)
The faithful of the Gargždai parish wrote to the LSSR Council of Ministers, the LSSR Ministry of Internal Affairs and the LSSR Ministry of Education, this letter of protest:
"On December 26 of this year, the Administrative Committee of the Klaipėda Rayon Executive Committee fined our priest, Antanas Šeškevičius, son of Kazys, 30 rubles for 'systematically teaching minors religion' on June 5.
"The administrative committee consisted of: Chairman S. Klevinskas, Secretary Mrs. D. šeporaitienė and members N. Ananev, Butkevičius and J. Kiriliauskas.
1.We parents instruct our children and bring them to church so that the priest might test them and admit them to First Confession and Communion. On June 5, the priest was testing each child separately. In the church also were some of the mothers and other believers. Four individuals came in and began demonstratively to count the children, look around and write... Since they told no one who they were, the mothers and believers asked them not to interrupt and to leave the church. A disturbance arose. The children began to shout, "Get out of here!" They left.
2.Sometime later, one of the faithful who had asked them to leave the church, Miss Rūta Adomavičiūtė, was jailed for ten days, and on June 26, the administrative committee summoned our priest. He was accompanied by about twenty mothers and other believers. Only then did it become clear that it was the committee in church: Mrs. Jūratė Darkevičienė, teacher of Class Three in Middle School II, Šatkauskas, representative of the militia, it seems, and A. Stalis, the district chairman. They reported in writing that the priest had taught the children religion. The priest explained that they saw him quizzing only one child, even though the priest has the full right and duty in church to teach everyone, and to teach the children their prayers by rote in one hour is impossible. The parents do that at home.
This was confirmed to the commission by some of the mothers: Mrs. Stankienė, Mrs. Škerienė and two other mothers who were believers. The priest had time to test only a few. Priests cannot afford to spend the whole day just quizzing children, so they set aside a time for the testing. Those come who wish to. It's quite possible for no one to come.
There is no organized instruction, nor can there be. Those who have come are waiting in line. That committee counted fifty-one children and arrived at a very mistaken conclusion: There are many children, so it is a school. It is allowable to quiz them only one-by-one, not in groups. The priest explained that the church doors are open to everyone, and everyone may enter. If this is displeasing to the government, let them station two militiamen at the door and let them allow one child at a time in for quizzing. We cannot do that.
During the Stalin era, an order was passed down to check the children's knowledge in the confessional, quietly whispering in their ear. Whoever is demanding now that the child be taken out somewhere for quizzing is committing the same stupidity, and it shows that in place of the religious freedom proclaimed in the Constitution, there is a harsh and unwise constraint.
3. The Church is separated from the school, but teachers have taken over in church! The state is separated from the Church, but militiamen terrorize the faithful in church just like the Czar's gendarmes did in Kražiai.
Hence we urgently ask you to defend us and our children from such inhuman and unwise attacks, so that we might be able to bring our children to receive the sacraments and pray in peace.
4. We are annoyed and angered by the fact that they have penalized our priest for the carrying out of religious duties just like alcoholics for drunkenness. The Const i tut ion grants freedom of religion, but the government equates it with alcoholism. Who cannot be scandalized? We therefore request that the penalty imposed upon the priest be rescinded.
July 5, 1985 Signed by 663 Parents and believers!
Kužiai (Šiauliai Rayon)
On September 16, 1985, Father Kazimieras Si runas, former rector of the Theological Seminary of Kaunas, then pastor of Kužiai, died after being struck by a passing truck while walking along the roadside. The Vatican received a telegram about the priest's death belatedly. One wonders whether the reason for the delay was not the fact that just this year, Father Si runas was attacked by the atheists for teaching children catechism. Just prior to his death, the deceased was warned by the Rayon Executive Committee about teaching children religion. Father Sirunas, receiving the warning concerning the catechizing of children, explained that he would continue teaching children religion because it was one of his most important duties as a priest.
Besides the instances mentioned, also terrorized for teaching children the truths of religion were the pastor of the parish of Alizava, Father Stasys Tamulonis; the pastor of Leliūnai, and member of the Board of Consul tors of the Diocese of Panevėžys, Father Petras Adomonis and the Dean of šakiai, Msgr. Juozas Žemaitis.
Garliava (Kaunas Rayon)
On June 20, 1985, into the church of Garliava where children preparing for First Corrmunion had assembled for quizzing, came the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Garliava and two women. Seeing the assembled children, they wrote down their names and addresses and filled out a citation to Jadvyga-Gemma Stanelyte for teaching children. Later they summoned children with their parents to the Prosecutor's Office of Garliava and there questioned them.
On July 1, 1985, Jadvyga-Gemma Stanelyte was summoned to the Kaunas Rayon Prosecutor's Office to see Interrogator Seibutis. The interrogator accused Miss Stanelyte of violating the law "Concerning Separation of Church and State".
"It is not forbidden to believe, but teaching religion is not allowed," explained the interrogator.
"If Church and state are separated, then why do government officials invade the church and interfere with the faithful? You say that it is not forbidden to believe. However, according to the right you grant, we, the faithful, have to walk around wearing gags lest, God forbid, any word regarding religion get out. Is this not a ridiculing of freedom of conscience?" the lady under investigation said.
"You see," continued Seibutis, "the children are minors. They are still unable to decide for themselves, so it is not allowed to tell them about God."
"I agree that they cannot decide for themselves," replied Miss Stanelyte, "but then, you cannot talk to them against God, either, but atheism is forced on children as early as the kindergarten."
On August 2, 1985, Miss Stanelyte was once again summoned to the Kaunas Rayon Prosecutors' Office, this time to see Prosecutor Duobida. The prosecutor gave her a warning and threatened that in the future, for repeated catechizing of children, a criminal case would be brought against her in accord with LSSR Criminal Code Par. 142 2d, and she would be punished with imprisonement up to three years.
"To me, this warning is like an advance toward which I feel the obligation to work," Miss Stanelytė calmly told him.
The pastor of Garliava, Msgr. Andriejus Gustaitis, was summoned to a government office for teaching children catechism, and to their threats responded, "We have taught and we will teach for that is our sacred duty!"
Kriokialaukis (Alytus Rayon)
On the night of August 22, 1985, two unknown women knocked at the door of the rectory in Kriokialaukis, to see Father Vaclovas Stakėnas, a member of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, and requested the priest to come visit a sick person for religious ministration. When Father Stakėnas asked for the particulars, the strangers told him the name of a patient known to him, Mrs. Aleksandravičienė, of the Village of Daugirdai, whom he had visited approximately a month earlier.
The visitors explained that the sick mother did not wish to let her daughter Marytė go out, and as proof that they really were the Prienai relatives of the sick woman, they mentioned the names of three of the nearest neighbors.
The priest, taking the Blessed Sacrament from church, entered the automobile in which were the two aforesaid women and the driver who had brought them. After they had left the neighborhood, the driver extinguished the headlights and slowed down. At same time, on the left side of the road, a tall man to began to flag the automobile down, shielding his face with one hand from the lights.
On the right side of the road walked another man. When the priest requested that they not stop because most likely they were drunken individuals and he had the Blessed Sacrament on his person, the automobile immediately stopped. Jumping in, the men bent the priest's arms behind his back.
When the priest began asking questions and calling for help, one of the men put him in a choke-hold. The priest regained consciousness when the automobile had already proceeded a considerable distance. The culprits became nervous. Sometime later, it became clear that their nervousness was caused by an oncoming car.
The priest was ordered to bend down and when it appeared to the attackers that he had not bent low enough, they seized the priest by the hair and struck his head against the front seat back, thus knocking him fairly senseless and bloodying his face.
One of the women demanded, "Your gold, your money or your life!" When the priest explained that he had no money, that at best they would find up to 400 rubles at the rectory, the woman ordered the men to "Count the priest's ribs!", "To let him smell the pistol!", "Give him a hot-foot!", etc.
The men, after beating him considerably and ridiculing him, stated that they would take him to the woods, tie him to a tree and return to the rectory. Passing a dwelling, the assailants would knock the priest senseless with a blow to the head or a choke-hold.
Approaching the woods, the car turned into the forest road and proceding far from the main road, it stopped. Carrying their victim into the woods, the assailants struck him in the face, tore off the burse with the Blessed Sacrament and tied him hand and foot, from time to time demanding, "Tell us where you keep the gold and money."
Then they would stuff his mouth with a rag and begin to beat him, carefully so as not to leave marks.
After tormenting him for some time, they would pull the rag from his mouth and question him again, except that interestingly enough, they would pay least attention to his replies and would again beat him and ridicule him.
The most active were the women. They directed how and for what to beat the downed priest. After sufficiently tormenting him, they left their victim with his mouth stuffed and just so the rag would not falI out, they tied a sock over his mouth. Moreover, they tied his hands and feet tightly with elastic, and threw the priest into a shallow hole in the woods far from the main road.
Driving away, the culprits snatched up the burse containing the Blessed Sacrament and all the other liturgical appointments. Father
Stakenas, by a gargantuan effort, crawled out of the hole and for about four hours during the night, crawled on hands and feet swollen until they bled, crawled and rolled to the main road.
At about 6:00 AM, on the road between Alytus and Simnas, at the 10 km marker from Alytus, people hurrying to work found him. Father Stakenas was taken to the Alytus militia. The militia pretended to look for the culprits, but until now, it has not been heard that they discovered anyone. That night, the culprits did not return to the rectory or look for any money.
The faithful are convinced that this incident was a conscious attempt to terrorize the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights member Father Vaclovas Stakenas.
Kiaukliai (Širvintai Rayon)
On June 5, 1985, Father Rokas Puzonas, pastor of the parish of Kiaukliai, was summoned to the Executive Committee of Širvintai Rayon. Waiting for him here were Executive Committee Vice Chairman D. Tvirbutas and Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs Jozėnas. The Vice Chairman upbraided the priest for touching upon current events in his sermons:
For frequently mentioning the imprisoned priests and for publicizing examples of the persecution of the Church. Vice Commissioner Jozėnas was particularly displeased by the sermons Father Puzonas preached in Giedraičiai and at the demolished shrine of Verpiu Kalvarija, in commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the death of the Blessed Mykolas Giedrai t is.
Jozėnas scolded the pastor for acquainting the people with the story of his own recruitment by the KGB. In the words of the Vice Commissioner, the people had come to pray, to adore God, and not to listen to the biography of Father Rokas Puzonas.
It was also libelous to say that the death of Father Leonas Šapoka was the work of the KGB. Jozėnas affirmed that no one is persecuting the Church in Lithuania. When Father Puzonas mentioned the constant persecution against religion carried on by teachers of the Kiaukliai Elementary School, and their terrorizing of pupils, Jozėnas retorted that such a situation is completely normal, since the Church is separated from the state.
The priest is forbidden to associate with the youth, since this is no longer the religious sphere. If the priest remains recalcitrant, he will be irrmediately arrested and the church of Kiaukliai closed. All the believers will hold him, the priest, responsible for the church's closing; they wi I I condemn him and turn away from him. "Perhaps Father Juozas Zdebskis and Father Leonas Kalinauskas will come here a few times to remember him, but then everyone will forget him, just as they have Father Svarinskas, whom the foreign radio mentions ever less frequently," said Jozėnas.
The Vice Commissioner claimed that all information to the Vatican about Kiaukliai is transmitted by Father Puzonas. and that he belongs, in the words of Jozėnas, "to the extremists' general staff which makes cannon-fodder of young priests while itself remaining untouched."
Jozėnas stated that ten priests sign protests, fearing lest the foreign radio proclaim them "Red", and then they apologize to him, Jozėnas, for their signatures. For the arrest of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, "Many priests even thanked me and said that it should have been done long ago."
The Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs said that he did not doubt that the contents of this discussion would reach the Vatican, but the atheists are not afraid to continue doing what they've done till now. "It's too bad that these are not the days of Stalin; you would have earned yourself twenty-five years long ago. If you continue to act like this, matters will exceed the competency of Petras An i I i on i s' office, and be handed on to the prosecutor's office. We will arrest you without warning, and i t wiI I do the Church no good. What good did the activities of Father Svarinskas or Father Tamkevičius do the faithful? Did it increase the number of believers?" Jozėnas argued in favor of accomodation to the atheist ic government.
Finally, Vice Commissioner Jozėnas said that he was going to report the discussion to His Excellency the Bishop of Kaišiadorys, Vincentas Sladkevičius.
Father Puzonas informed his parishioners from the pulpit about the atheists' demands and threats, recalling how bravely the people of Kiaukliai had defended their church a hundred years earlier against the Czar's cossacks and urging the people to be worthy of their forebears.
Santaika (Alytus Rayon)
At the end of 1984, Father Vladas Bobinas applied to the Alytus Executive Committee for permission to replace the wooden churchyard fence with a metal one, and to rebuild the belfry, since the old one was rotted and it was possible that a falling bell could injure or even kill someone. At the end of February, 1985, the pastor again applied to Rayon Vice Chairman Makštutis for permission to begin renovations.
The Vice Chairman stated that the request would surely be satisfied, therefore, it was quite alright to begin work, and after the up-coming meeting of the Executive Committee, he would send permission in writing.
On March 26, after the framework of the belfry had been erected and the work of nailing on the facing had begun, Rayon Inspector L. Alekserūnas, Kriokialiaukis District Chairman J. Tamulėnas and Engineer G. Rinkevičius showed up in the churchyard and wrote out an order to cease construct ion work.
The church wall had been demolished, so it was impossible to interrupt work. On April 8, Father Bobinas was summoned to the Rayon, where the chairman of the Executive Committee again demanded that construction be discontinued. "Then why give verbal permission? Is it just so that it will be possible to summon me for reproach and intimidation?" the pastor asked the Chairman.
The Chairman did not reply directly to the question, only told him to await further information. On April 10, the above-named committee came to the church of Santaika and again wrote out another order, noting that Father Bobinas had erected the wooden framework for the belfry and had put on the siding wi thout permission. Moreover, they indicated in the order that the belfry had to be torn down by April 24.
On April 15, the Administrâtive Committee of the Rayon Executive Committee fined Father Bobinas 25 rubles for infraction of the building code.
To: the Executive Committee of Alytus Rayon Copies to: Bishops Administering Dioceses Commissioner for Religious Affairs
Santaika Parish Committee Meeting Held May 19, 1985
We, the Executive Committee, the Board of Trustees and members of the Committee of Twenty of the parish of Santaika have considered the questions which Alytus Executive Committee Vice Chairwoman, Mrs. Laukiene, brought up to Father Vladas Bobinas, pastor of the parish of Santaika in the presence of District Chairman Tamulynas. They were the following:
1.The pastor, Father Vladas Bobinas, by organizing help for church work, adversely effected spring work on the communal farm;
2.Undermined the Communist Saturday aid because he forced people to work where they were not sent;
3.Wrecked school public assemblies by forcing students to work for the church, so that athletic contests which had been planned did not take place;
4. Arbitrarily plugging into electricity from the school building, he endangered the lives of the pupils;
5.Acting arbitrarily in the communal farm dispatcher's office, he personally filled out a voucher for himself, and taking a truck, left for Kaunas to pick up fencing. He requested a car from the wrong persons;
6.Constrained Vytas Smaidžiūnas to work at the church, and so the pigstys were left uncleaned.
Having considered the questions raised and the accusations, we reply:
1.The workmen labored at the church only after working hours; moreover, the remodelling took place in church at a time when spring work on the communal farm had not yet begun, and so he could not have undermined it;
2.On the Communist day of assistance, the pastor advised the workers not to cart fill dirt off somewhere to the fields as had been planned, but to deposit it nearby in the depression next to the churchyard. Fcr this reason, the assistants could not have been undermined, but only faciI i tated;
3.The school children did not work at the church, but only a few of them came accompanying their mothers to pick up trash;
4.The electricity was connected up, not from the school building, but from the stanchion, and it was connected up by a specialist, in accordance wi th safety regulations, so there could not have been any danger to life;
5.Everyone knows that requisitions are filled out by the appointed individual, and it is not the pastor's obligation to determine who has the right to assign a truck;
6.The pastor has no possibility of forcing anyone to work or not to work, and did not importune anyone, especially Vytas Smaidžiūnas.
Therefore, the accusations brought against the pastor are of a libelous nature and as such must be withdrawn and punished. Please inform the Santaika parish committee regarding this matter.
Sudeikiai (Utena Rayon)
In the churchyard of Sudeikiai is buried the former pastor, the poet Father šnapštys-Margalis (1877-1921). Over the long period of time, the gravestone had eroded. The present pastor, Father Povilas Jozėnas, and some faithful, with the assistance of the Dean of Utena, Jonas Pranevičius, planned a new monument.
The grave of Father Šnapštys has been included in the list of cultural monuments. The faithful applied to the Ministry of Culture and received permission to erect a new monument.
A beautiful Lithuanian ways ide shrine was carved with appropriate inscriptions, but the Rayon Executive Committee would not allow it to be erected on the priest's grave. The authorities themselves erected a standard monument on which is inscribed, "Poet J. Šnapštys-Margalis".
The atheists are not allowing the erection of a cross on the graves of the more significant priest-cultural figures, or any inscription that this is the grave of a priest. The wayside shrine of the faithful was erected elsewhere in the churchyard.
Daugailiai (Utena Rayon)
This summer, the children of the sister of the local pastor, Father Petras Baltuška, spent their vacation with him. Their happy shouting in the churchyard displeased the local atheists. By order of the Rayon Executive Committee, officials of the children's home and a representative of the local militia ordered the priest to take the children away, in spite of the fact that they are close relatives.
Meškuičiai (Šiauliai Rayon)
On May 2, 1985, the Friends of the Eucharist from, various corners of Lithuania assembled at the Hill of Crosses where in a drizzle, and with KGB agents attentively looking on, they tended to this corner of symbols of the cross of Christ. Having finished their work, the volunteers gathered at the statue of the Mother of God for common prayer. With tears in their eyes, the faithful gazed on the image of the Mother of God. Mary's head had been knocked off by vandals, but reattached by good people; the statue was missing one hand and was much the worse for wear.
After prayer, Father Leonas Kalinauskas preached a sermon for the occasion, thanking everyone for their work and dedication; Father Kęstutis Daknevičius recalled the imprisoned priests, Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis and the laity who, undeterred by suffering, also assumed a heavy burden of sacrifice, and he urged everyone with his or her own sacrifice, supportable by love, to support those in prison and all the suffering.
Before beginning the rosary, Father Antanas Jokubauskas recalled the meaning of the words of Christ uttered on the cross. After the rosary, Marija, Marija was sung. In closing, the pastor of the parish of Žarėnai, Father Algirdas Pakamanis, blessed the members of the work group, reminding them how important it is to bear patiently and lovingly the burden of one's daily duty, to be undaunted by persecution, to pray for the persecutors and specifically for those who recently desecrated the Hill of Crosses.
The word is that the government atheists are again preparing to demolish the Hill of Crosses, already razed more than once. At the present time, malodorous water from the coat factory in Šiauliai is admitted into the little stream which flows past the hill.
žemaičių Kalvarija (Plungė Rayon)
This year during the great solemnity of Žemaičių Kalvarija (Calvary of the Samogitians), in the middle of the week, government officials called in members of the parish committee and warned that they might have to answer for infrigement of Soviet laws during the solemnity. The atheists were particularly displeased because children carried banners and the canopy over the Blessed Sacrament during the procession.
On July 6, 1985, throngs of the faithful participated in the solemnity at Žemaičių Kalvarija, among them many young people. The KGB watched those praying at the stations. When Stanislovas Baškys of Telšiai began photographing, six KGB agents fell on him, seized his camera and, having beaten the young man, took him to a car. The KGB agents became even more furious when they found the camera empty. Baškys was questioned about whom the camera belonged to, where he had met Miss Regina Teresiūtė of Kelmė and what he had talked about with Miss Rita Bobliauskaitė of Telšiai .
Baškys was held by the chekists for about one hour.
Žalioji (Vilkaviškis Rayon)
At the beginning of April, 1985, Rayon Executive Chairman Juozas Urbonas called in the Dean of Vilkaviškis, Father Vytautas Vaitauskas, and insistantly demanded that the dean forbid the pastor of Didvydžiai, Father Antanas Lukošaitis, from carrying out services in the cemetery of Žalioji. The faithful of the parish of Žalioji have been praying in the cemetery ever since their church was confiscated and turned into a mill.
On May 2, at Pentecost, Urbonas himself observed the faithful praying in the cemetery of ŽaIioji . Calling over Father Lukošaitis, the Vice Chairman demanded that he terminate the services. The assembled faithful were angered by this clumsy interference of the government in the order of service. Urbonas, avoiding any discussion with the faithful, quickly left the cemetery.
On May 27. 1985, Vice Chairman Urbonas showed up at the rectory in Alksnėnai, where Father Lukošaitis lives. Not finding the priest at home, he told the woman who cleaned the church that the pastor should present himself at the rayon offices on May 28.
The next day, Urbonas again came to Aleksnėnai and read the pastor a warning concerning the holding of services in the cemetery of Žalioji, and demanded that he sign an acknowledgement. The pastor refused to do so.
On June 11, a delegation of the faithful from the parish of Žalioji went to see Vice Chairman Urbonas. The latter showed the people various injunctions, reading them aloud and commenting on them. The Vice Chairman considered the holding of services in the cemetery an infringement of the law and tried to play on the sympathies of the people, saying that by so doing, they would put the priest in prison.
On June 14, Mrs. Ona Muraškienė and Alfonsas Kalvaitis visited Vice Chairman Urbonas to request permission for a priest to offer Mass in the cemetery on June 15 (the anniversary of death of their relatives). The request was rejected with a warning that if services took place without his permission, the priest would be turned over to the prosecutor's of f ice.
At the beginning of August, the faithful sent a petition signed by fifty individuals to the rayon Party secretary, demanding that a priest be allowed to offer Mass in the cemetery of Žalioji on August 18. The petition was forwarded to Regional Chairman Adomas Gudynas of Klausučiai, who granted the request.
On August 21, Mrs. Elena Lapinskienė and Mrs. Kazimiera Bubnaitienė went to the offices of the Council for Religious Affairs in Vilnius. The Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs, after listening to the demands of the faithful, stated that there is no parish of Žalioji, it has been abolished, and that all this has been coordinated with the bishops. Priests are allowed to hold services for the dead in the cemetery only on November 1, but for holding Mass any other day in the cemetery, they can be arrested on the spot.
On August 2, Mrs. Lapinskienė was called in to see Rayon Vice Chairman Urbonas who scolded the woman for writing a petition to the Office of Religious Affairs. He demanded that she tell him who drafted the petition and raged because Regional Chairman Gudynas allowed the priest to hold services on August 18, and at the end of the interview, Urbonas dared to claim that the bishops had abolished the parish of Žalioji.
Recently, the faithful of Žalioji have continued praying in the cemetery. Placing the Mass vestments on the little altar set up in the chapel, they read the prayers and sing the hymns of the Mass.
Sasnava (Kapsukas Rayon)
In April, 1985, Petras Gražulis, a resident of the Village of Sasnava sent the Prosecutor of the LSSR the following petition (For the beginning of events, see Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 67):
"As I mentioned in my first petition of March 26, 1985, I was detained on Chernyakovsky Street in the City of Šakiai while driving an automobile, license BA 3 21-06, Republic no. 77-05, by Kęstutis Astrauskas, of the Department of Motor Vehicles. Because of questions which arose in his mind, he ordered me to follow him to the militia stat ion.
"A passenger, riding with me, Vytis Kačergis, requested that I let him out. I stopped and he got out and went off. The aforesaid inspector began to persue him. Kačergis, frightened, began to run, but was stopped by a driver for the Šakiai Rayon Fire Department.
"Running up, Kęstutis Astrauskas struck him in the neck. The fire department driver brought Kačergis over to some cars. Commandeering a passing vehicle, he put us in with a man on either side. One of them was the fire department driver who had stopped the young man, and the other, a passenger in the automobile. The inspector told the driver of the vehicle to follow him, but he told the men on either side to guard us.
"They brought us to the station house. After about fifteen minutes, Inspector Astrauskas demanded the keys to the automobile I had been driving, and I gave them to him.
"Immediately, the Chief of the Šakiai Rayon Criminal Investigation Division showed up, and ordered me to be searched. When I demanded a prosecutor's warrant for the search, the official stated, 'One more expert on the law! The Prosecutor will come in and stand here while we do the search.' I replied that it is not enough for him to stand there; what was needed was written permission.
"Major Jokūbai t is went to Prosecutor Vidmantas Diržius of šakiai Rayon to request a search warrant. However, the prosecutor, instead of the warrant, gave him the Criminal Code and told him to read Par. 195, according to which no warrant is necessary to perform a search. Reading it, I understood that this article is based on Par. 188 and 192, and Par. 188 of the commentaries 3d lists five exceptions in which a warrent is unnecessary for carrying out a search. In this case, those exceptions did not apply. Therefore, on the basis of Par. 188, I would not agree to allow the search to be carried out without the Prosecutor's sanction which he, being right on the spot, could have easily written.
"Nevertheless, in spite of my demands, Chief Jokūbaitis of Criminal Investigation carried out the search in the presence of witnesses Algimantas Gudaitis and Algis Manusevičius. Not finding anything, they did not record the search. And so I wrote you, the Prosecutor of the LSSR, a complaint which was signed by the aforesaid witnesses to the search.
"Later, in the sight of the same witnesses, they carried out a search of the car I had been driving. From it, they took two crowbars and a quantity of literature. I did not sign the search record, reasoning as follows:
"1. When they took me to the station house, the car i had been driving had been left standing on the street, alone and unguarded. Inspector Astrauskas took the automobile keys from me only after fifteen minutes in the stationhouse, so the automobile remained on the street no less than a half hour.
"2. I saw the automobile on the street, in front of the militia station, only about two and a half hours later, during the search, at about 1:00 PM.
"3. When they began carrying out the search, the interior of the automobile was in disarray. Rags and other things had been pulled out from under the seat. Who had been rummaging about in the car was unclear.
"4. Since the automobile and the articles in it are not mine, I could not certify by signature whether those articles belonged to the owner of the automobile or had been placed there during the two and a half hours for purposes of provocation, with the idea of placing charges.
"I also explained that during such a long time, in my absence, you could have put anything in the automobile. I could vouch for the authenticity of the articles taken from the automobile, that they are mine, or that they belong to the owner of the automobile only if you had not taken me away from the automobile for a single minute before the search.
"The officials shouted, 'Don't be imagining things. These are conscientious people working here.'
"I replied that I did not trust their conscientiousness, because they do not abide by the law, and now, making such mistakes, probably on purpose, you have forced me to doubt your conscientiousness. You were convinced that I did not know the law, and you had your way unchecked. I also do not believe that you do not know these laws. In your desire to implicate me, by not observing the law, you became implicated yourselves.
"After they had searched the car, they took me back to the station house. They continued interrogating me and Kačergis. During the interrogation, they asked me where I lived and where I work. I replied for purposes of identification. I also stated that I had not committed any crime, nor did I plan to do so. Therefore, I did not reply to the other questions: where, with whom and why I had been driving.
"I have been sentenced neither to house arrest, nor to a job program. Only such criminals are obliged, before going out, to obtain permission and to notify the Rayon Department of Internal Affairs where they are going.
"I am a free citizen, so I am not obliged to inform of ficers of the Šakiai Rayon Internal Affairs Division before going. The car I was driving was a private vehicle, so no itinerary was necessary. At approximately 5:00 PM, from the militia station where I was sitting in the ready room, Major Jokūbaitis summoned me once more to the car. Once again, two individuals in civilian dress searched the car for about half an hour. They were looking for something, saying over and over again, 'There must be more!'
"Prosecutor Vidmantas Diržius went by. I complained to him that the officials of the šakiai Rayon Internal Affairs Division were acting arbitrarily, carrying out a search of my person and automobile, without his sanction. He replied that nowadays, even the search of an apartment does not require an order. The fact that they do so implies that one has committed a crime. To my complaints that after carrying out a body search they did not record it, and carrying out a second search of the automobile they did not even call in witnesses, the prosecutor did not answer.
"Carrying out a second search of the car, they did not find the article which 'had to be there', so they did not document the search.
"They detained me on the basis of Par. 146, suspecting me of a crime. Since they found two crowbars in the automobile, I was suspected of breaking into automobiles and garages. During the search and interrogation, it became clear that these garages and crowbars were the least of their worries. One of them, calling himself a prosecutor, added, 'We do not break into garages; you are greater criminals than robbers, hooligans or even murderers.'
"'So what are we? What have we done and why are you letting us go if we are so dangerous?'
"He shouted, 'I know where you had been riding around, what you did in Šakiai, Kurdikos Naumiestis, Gelgaudiškis, Griškabūdis and elsewhere: You were collecting signatures addressed to the Prosecutor of the LSSR, requesting that the priests be released from prison!'
"From these words, it became clear that during the search, it was not evidence of garage break-ins which were sought, but rather signatures and petitions which in their opinion, are worse crimes even than murder.
"After this discussion, Comrade Prosecutor, an important question arose whether to turn to you. To ask you and to complain to you is a crime, and according to them, even greater than murder. Perhaps, after these two petitions addressed to you, I shall be given even stricter punishment than murderers. Please answer that question. As far as I know, the Soviet Constitution does not forbide even a criminal to lodge a complaint, to ask compassion. Perhaps, along with the Constitution, there is another written version of the Constitution which considers all that a terrible crime?
"They stopped me, detained me, took me to the station house and searched me, on the basis of Par. 146, that is, on suspicion of having committed a crime. However, when it became clear two days later that I had not burglarized the garage, and that I had not committed that crime greater than murder, namely, the collecting of signatures to a petition addressed to you, Mr. Prosecutor, requesting the release of the priests under sentence: Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis, the militia released me.
"Comrade Prosecutor, please tell me on what basis they treated me like a criminal, and worse. The first day of my detention, they did not give me anything to eat, even though all criminals are fed three times a day. After the first day of interrogation, they took me to an unheated cell. Afterwards, they took me to another cell which was heated, but full of smoke. In order to escape Carbon monoxide poisoning, I was told to keep the window open. The smoke made my eyes smart and gave me a headache. It was practically impossible to see daylight in the cell.
"There was a thick window cemented into the wall which had some holes burned in it with the aid of a hotplate. It was difficult to distinguish between day and night. High above the door behind a metal grate, a dim electric light shone red. It was impossible to read, there was no chair or table, to say nothing of bedding. For a toilet, I had a pail right in the cell, and had to put up with the stench.
"Nor was the food anything to write home about. For breakfast, there was bread and a cup of tea, for lunch, bread with soup and in the evening, soup with bread. The second night, it was cold lying down, since the cells were unheated. I was overcome with shuddering. There was no place to wash or shave. Since it is impossible to spend two days standing, I lay down on the dirty floor in my good suit. When they released me, my clothing was wrinkled and dirty, and I had 60 km. to go home by bus.
"Where was I to go? I was embarrased to show myself to people and afraid lest I be recognized. Where was I to go? That is how a Soviet citizen looks leaving the Internal Affairs Division after two days. Who will make restitution for the moral and material wrongs?
"They parked my car without documenting it or sealing it, when they shut me up in the cell. Along with all my things, they took my car keys. When they released me after two days, I refused to claim the car, since it was not mine, and what of its contents belonged to its owner, I did not know. Thus, I was fearful that if anything was missing, the owner would blame me."
Josvainiai (Kėdainiai Rayon)
On June 28, 1985, a group of young people who were believers, accompanied by a few adults, gathered near Josvainiai on the bank of the Šušvė River, to celebrate St. John's Eve, in keeping with old folk customs: with song and dance. As participants were gathering, a senior lieutenant of the militia, two auxiliaries and a civilian showed up. The latter produced an authorization from a ranger of the Kėdainiai Rayon, issued in the name of Mykolas Armanavičius, and stated that the banks of the Šušvė River constitute a scenic preserve, where the lighting of bonfires and driving of automobiles is forbidden.
The parents of the local youngsters shrugged their shoulders in surprise: They were hearing about such rules for the first time. The young people directed the ranger's attention to the fact that they had just policed the area, because on their arrival, they had found the blackened remains of campfires, and a pile of whiskey bottles of various kinds. Where had the ranger service been earlier? "Tell us straight out: Did the KGB send you?" The people asked, refusing to be deceived. The truth came out when, upon checking drivers' documents, it was discovered that one of them was a priest, the pastor of Kiaukliai, Father Rokas Puzonas.
One of the auxiliaries emotionally began to explain that priests are not allowed to drive schoolchildren. The officials began threatening fines and jail sentences. It became clear that it would not be possible to look for the "fern blossom", or to recall the beautiful traditions. Exchanging thoughts on how "broad" the rights of a Lithuanian Catholic are, the people slowly dispersed from the so-called scenic preserve, whose location here Is not Indicated by any advertisement or sign.
On July 19, 1985, a militia officer presented himself at the home of Regina Teresiūtė, at Laisvės 11, in Kelmį. Not finding the young lady at home, he frightened her mother, saying that he was going to arrest her daughter for being involved in anti-Soviet activity, not working at a government approved job and for vagrancy. (Miss Teresiūtė is employed as organist at the parish of Žalpiai.)
The mother replied that her daughter was working, and was not Involved in any activities. A few days later, the same officer warned the girl's parents several more times. For two weeks, about fifteen residents of Žalpiai and almost all the neighbors of Miss Teresiūtė in Kelmė were questioned. Officials tried their best to turn the people against Regina, claiming that she was detrimental to youth, transmitted information abroad, was not working anywhere and was involved in anti-Soviet activity.
Laugaliai (Klaipeda Rayon)
On August 13, 1985, Vilnius residents Genovaite Sakaliene and Eleanora Sasnauskaite, along with Kelme resident Regina Teresiūtė, visited the ex-convict (who had spent 30 years in the camps of Siberia) Justas Gimbutas at the Laugaliai Home for Invalids, where Gimbutas is presently. The visitors were nastily assailed by a woman who introduced herself as the Vice Director of this institution. Without presenting proof of her own identity or her position, the unknown woman demanded to know the visitors' names. When the visitors did not rush to show her their documents, and explained that they had not done anything wrong, the Vice Director began shouting that she had seen a photograph of Miss Teresiūtė, and knew that she was an undesirable person.
On the way to the bus terminal, the visitors were approached by a vehicle from which a man jumped, and presented a document issued to the name of Vytautas Saulys, an officer of the Internal Affairs Department of the Rayon of Klaipeda, and demanded that they show their documents. Otherwise, he threatened to take them to the local station house to establish identification. When Miss Teresiūtė produced her papers, all three were released and Internal Affairs Department Officer Saulys drove off, having completed his assignment.
Along the road from Alytus to Seirija, stood a cross erected by the Friends of the Eucharist about ten years earlier. This year, in preparation for the fortieth anniversary of the victory against Hitler's Germany and as guests from France, veterans of the Normandy-Nemunas Escadrille, were expected for the occasion, the area of the road was being cleaned.
The government officials were bothered by the cross standing by the wayside. At the direction of the government atheists, the cross was demo Iished on May 14.