CATHOLICS OF LITHUANIA WRITE
"To: Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR
A Petition by a Group of Believers
"Scathing antireligious propaganda is being waged in the press, at meetings, in schools, on the radio and television, in motion pictures and the theater, which does not hesitate to use distorted facts, unjust accusations, and the ridicule and debasement of believers. Under the guise of antireligious action, even the disparagement of the nation occurs. This is done in the motion picture Herkus Mantas, in which, while propagating atheism, a grievous, historically unconfirmed accusation is made: that Prussians offered human sacrifices to their gods. To degrade and belittle religion in the eyes of the people even vile means are used without hesitation.
"Religion is being condemned while atheism is foisted upon everyone by force. What are the results of this?
"Lenin taught that the truth of ideas, theories, and science is confirmed by practice. It has been almost thirty years since the young generation and the entire population has been educated and directed in the spirit of atheism. In schools during lessons and all extracurricular activities atheism is being propagated, and religion is scorned. Caricatures ridiculing believers are put in showcases in the schools. Students who attend church are interrogated, intimidated, occasionally even punished, as happened to [Miss] Aurelija Račinskaitė, whose deportment grade was lowered and the entry added, 'for attending church.' What has this not overly brief practice of atheistic nurturing shown?
"Whereas before the introduction of atheistic education into the schools thievery, banditry, attempts upon a person's life, and sexual incontinence were very rare among the youth of Lithuania, now these are everpresent phenomena. In the war against juvenile delinquency, children's quarters have been set up at police departments. Never before in Lithuania were drunkenness, theft, murder, dishonesty, and dereliction of duty as rampant as in recent years. Laxness of conscience is evident in contacts with employees and officials everywhere: in stores and factories, in administrative, doctors', and other offices. Experience has shown that atheistic training is incapable of fostering strong moral principles in the young, and atheistic propaganda is unable to improve the morality of the public.
"Christian morality, which has withstood centuries of trial and fosters conscientiousness and encourages self-control, the overcoming of undesirable tendencies, the conscious performance of one's duty, and an inner sense of responsibility for one's actions—it is now being repudiated and hampered.
"Believers are being assailed but are not allowed to defend themselves. Article 123 of the LSSR Constitution, which proclaims the equality of every citizen in all areas of public life, and Article 125, which guarantees LSSR citizens freedom of speech, press, assembly and street processions, are not applied to believers. They cannot defend their beliefs at meetings, or in the press, or on the radio, or by any other means which atheists can use to disseminate their ideas without interference. Books of religious content cannot be published. It is true that Maldynas [Book of prayers], Vatikano II susirinkimo nutarimai[Decisions of the second Vatican Council], and Naujasis Testamentas [The New Testament] were published in Lithuania during Soviet rule. Three books in the period of some thirty years! And even these were published in such limited editions that only very few families of the faithful were able to acquire them. The press and official statements by government representatives often condemn racial and religious discrimination in other lands. Then why is religious discrimination allowed in Lithuania?
"We, the undersigned believers, request the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR to bar religious discrimination and to allow Lithuania's believers:
1. To defend and disseminate their beliefs by means of the media (press, lectures, radio, television)
2. To establish public organizations of and for believers
3. To publish newspapers and religious books
4. To attend church services without fear of persecution or punishment if they are students
5. To enroll an unlimited number of candidates in the theological seminary
6 To be secure from every means of religious discrimination
"We want to believe in the good will of the Soviet government. In Poland and other socialist countries, believers attend church without hindrance, catechize children, and publish religious books. We await the cessation of all religious discrimination in Lithuania also.
Signatures of five hundred and forty (540) believers."
"To: the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR
"We are sending the text of a petition to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR, which was signed by 540 believers. The original pages of the petition bearing the signatures are not being submitted for the following reasons:
"Sent by the Procurator of the LSSR, Interrogator J. Vilutis, who handles especially important cases, terrorized Catholics in Kaunas, Panevėžys, and elsewhere for several months solely because they had solicited or were only suspected of having solicited signatures for the petitions addressed to the Soviet government concerning discrimination against believers. The signers of the above-mentioned petitions were also harassed. The government of the LSSR thus demonstrated, not its desire to consider the rights of believers, but only its aim of imposing an alien ideology upon Catholics.
"At the beginning of August of this year, the Soviet government forbade the bishops of Lithuania to administer the sacrament of confirmation 'until after the harvest.' This administrative interference by a secular government in the administering of sacraments clearly demonstrates with what kind of "harvesting" the Soviet government is concerned—with the forcible weaning of the people from religion.
"Because of the aforementioned reasons, we shall send the texts of the petitions which bear 540 signatures to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR only when we are completely convinced of the good will of the Soviet government. At the present we are convinced only of its desire to quietly and quickly, even through inhuman means, to destroy the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
"We would also like to inform the Presidium that four copies of the petition addressed to the Ministry of Public Education of the LSSR bearing 320 signatures and four copies of the petitions bearing 302 signatures addressed to K. Tumėnas, the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs, were received late. These signed copies will be added to the previously gathered copies of the petition about which the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was informed in the declaration dated May 14, 1973.
"Thus, a total of 14,604 believers have signed the petition addressed to the Ministry of Public Education of the LSSR concerning the discrimination of believing students, and 16,800 believers have signed the petition addressed to Council for Religious Affairs Commissioner K. Tumėnas concerning the lack of Catholic publications. August 31, 1973
Representatives of the Catholics in Lithuania"
THE ARCHDIOCESE OF VILNIUS
In early August, 1973, Murnikovas, deputy commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs, informed the bishops and ecclesiastical administrators of Lithuania that because of the "harvesting" in the month of August it would not be possible to administer the sacrament of confirmation on Sundays or on the Feast of the Assumption (August 15).
Not knowing about this prohibition, believers gathered in great number in Šilalė and Alunta on August 15, and great was their discontent, since the bishop had not been allowed to come because of the so-called harvest.
Bishop R. Krikščiūnas informed the priests of Panevėžys Diocese that because of the harvest even the devotional ceremonies had to be postponed. The priests, how-ver, held the devotions as formerly, and the authorities did not dare to interfere.
On August 15, priests in pulpits informed their parishioners about the postponement of the sacrament of confirmation to some later date. The more courageous priests frankly indicated the true reasons for this prohibition and delay.
Murnikovas and other government officials had been mainly concerned with preventing thousands of children from receiving confirmation at the time most convenient to them.
This prohibition of administering the sacrament of confirmation is gross interference by the government in the affairs of a religious cult.