"To: The Curia of Vilkaviškis Diocese
A Statement by the Rev. Albinas Deltuva,
pastor of the parish in Veisiejai
"While Bishop L. Povilonis was administering the sacrament of confirmation at Veisiejai on July 28-29 of this year, several incidents occurred which scandalized the believers.
"With the excuse that it was harvest time, the days on which the sacrament of confirmation was to be administered were declared to be working days in the rayon. To local collective farms and state farms was given the order that they were not to provide any means of transportation. On Sunday it rained. The harvesting ceased. Still, inspection points on the roads to Veisiejai permitted only buses and private means of transport to pass through. All other vehicles and wagons carrying people were turned back. That was why only eleven persons from neighboring parishes in Byelorussia who desired to receive the sacrament of confirmation were able to reach Veisiejai.
"The believers have noticed that of the many Saturdays and Sundays occurring during harvest time, only the days during which the sacrament of confirmation was to be administered were declared working days.
"At about 4 p.m. on July 28, just before the bishop was to arrive, i was summoned to the city executive committee office. Soviet of Working People's Deputies Chairman Vaikšnoras and three others, who appeared to be state security operatives, demanded that i would not allow the sale of any devotional objects near the church. On the grounds that there were not as yet any stores selling religious articles and that the faithful had been supplied with such goods only through the churches, i categorically refused to comply with their demands, warning them that any interference in this matter by government organs may result in grievous misunderstandings. Their response was that no one is afraid of complaints.
"Shortly thereafter, during the welcoming of the bishop, Petras Rekus, an auxiliary policeman, assaulted one woman and forcibly snatched her devotional objects out of her hands and fled with them when a commotion began. Some people assert that the rosaries were being torn apart and crucifixes were being trampled underfoot, but i have not as yet found any eyewitnesses to this.
"Early in the morning on Sunday, July 29, policemen Leonovas and Morkevičius seized one woman's devotional objects and arrested her.
"Somewhat later, before 10 a.m., while the bishop was administering the sacrament of confirmation and Holy Communion was being distributed at the altar, Vitas Karaliūnas and Vitas Savukynas assaulted a man in the church and dragged him outside by force. The victim began to call for help. Many men and women hurried up to try to save him. Although a third man had joined the two attackers, they were forced to release their victim, whom they had already dragged out into the churchyard. Waiting for them at the churchyard gate was policeman Giedraitis, to whom they complained that their mission had failed.
"During the services, at about 10 a.m., uniformed policemen Savonis and Giedraitis, cruelly twisting his arms behind his back, led out of the churchyard a blind old man who, they had noticed, had several rosaries and crosses on chains in his possession. At the same time Vitas Karaliūnas, together with another man, seized two shopping bags from a woman and made off with them.
"Just after the bishop's departure, policemen Savonis and Giedraitis, who had asked a teacher from the vocational school to help them, tried to take devotional objects away from some man in the churchyard, but the provoked crowd pounced upon the policemen and ejected them from the churchyard. The policemen called for help, but by the time it arrived, the people had managed to disperse.
"Such facts do not benefit, nor do they bring honor to anyone. Perhaps the Curia can take the necessary steps in the appropriate agencies to assure that such incidents would not be repeated elsewhere.
August 3, 1973"
A Note from the Editor
At 5 p.m. on July 28, 1973, H.E. Bishop L. Povilonis was greeted ceremoniously as he arrived at the parish in Veisiejai. This was the bishop's first pastoral trip to the Vilkaviškis Diocese since his move from Telšiai to Kaunas.
Approximately 2,600 persons were confirmed at the church in Veisiejai on July 28-29. Some 10,000 people attended the ceremonies. About 3,500 persons received Holy