To: General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the Central Committee Communist Party of the Soviet Union
From: The Priests of the Diocese of Panevėžys of the Catholic
Church of Lithuania
In 1987, the Catholics of Lithuania will celebrate the 600-year jubilee of the introduction of Christianity into Lithuania. In the course of 600 years, Christian teaching has become deeply rooted in our nation. The Constitution of the USSR guarantees freedom of conscience, but atheist activists turn this guarantee of the Constitution into something of little worth.
1.The children of believers are persecuted in school, morally terrorized for public church attendance and forcibly enrolled in atheistic organizations against the wishes of their parents. Those not signing up are warned that they will not be able to get into institutions of higher or advanced education. Those who do sign up are forbidden to fulfill religious oblications and those who participate in services, some of them candidates for diplomas, are not even allowed to take final examinations. Those wishing to fulfill their religious obligations must do so surreptitiously, and thus from their early years, are forced to be hypocrites. This is a canker on our society.
2.Various government employees and teachers cannot fulfill their religious obligations publicly as demanded by their beliefs and conscience. Therefore, to fulfill their religious obligations, they are forced to go to far-off places so that no one will see them. Teachers who are religious believers must speak against their own conscience -- like atheists, even though Par. 50 of the LSSR Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience. When someone in a responsible position leaves wife and children and remarries, this is considered his personal affair, and for it, he is not disciplined; if a government employee publicly carries out religious obligations, he is demoted.
A religious procession to Šiluva
3. The USSR Constitution guarantees equality of all citizens, but how is it in real life? The atheists have everything: Press, radio, television..., while believers are not allowed access to these means of communication. After World War II, only a part of the families of believers were able to obtain prayerbooks and catechisms. At the service of the atheists are all schools, from kindergarten to university, while it is forbidden to teach the children of believing parents catechism, even in church: for such instruction, priests are tried and punished. Believers are not allowed to plan excursions or hire a car, even a taxi to go to attend a religious festival, for example, Šiluva or the Calvary of the Lowlanders -- Varduva.
Believers are not always allowed to summon a priest to the hospital for a patient at the point of death.
It is not allowed to pray during the wake of a believer at the funeral parlor, as Catholics are accustomed to do.
4. According to Par. 50 of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic Constitution, the Church is separated from the state, but in real life, it is otherwise: When bishops or administrators of dioceses appoint someone to a parish or transfer him out, the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs, as representative of the atheist government, impeding the well-being of the Church, makes the final decision regarding clergy appointments, nomination of candidates to the episcopacy, or to administratorship of a diocese, the selection of seminary professors, the acceptance of candidates for the seminary and allows all too few of them to be accepted so that there is a great shortage of priests.
The Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs interferes in the composition of Priests' Councils and Colleges of Consultors. This is interference in the internal affairs of the Church. Officials of the civil government interfere even in religious devotions: Why did such and such a priest conduct services? Why were prayers offered for priests suffering in prison? They interfere even in families, and in the formation of par ish commi t tees.
5.Christianity was first introduced into Lithuania in Vilnius, so the Cathedral of Vilnius is the cradle of Lithuanian Christianity, and this shrine has been taken away from the faithful. Saint Casimir is the patron of Lithuania, but the church dedicated to him in Vilnius has been converted into a Museum of Atheism, just as the church erected by the offerings of the believers of Klaipėda has been transformed into a Philharmonic Hall. This is to ridicule the faithful.
6.The USSR has obligated itself to abide by the Universal Déclarât ion of Human Rights, the 18th paragraph of which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
The USSR has also obligated itself to carry out the Helsinki Final Accords, Section 7 of which states: "The participating states will respect individual rights and freedoms, including the freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief...", and in Section 10, it states, "The participating states wi 11 fulfill in good faith their obligations under international law, both those obligations arising from the generally recognized principles and rules of international law, and those obligations arising from treaties or other agreements, in conformity with international law, to which they are parties."
Hence, the abovementioned injustices against believers are a transgression against international obligations.
7. When clergy or faithful publicize the injustices and calumnies committed against them, they are accused of vilifying the Soviet Union and sentenced, e.g., Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, Father Jonas Matulionis and some Catholic laymen have been sentenced, just for defending believers' rights. If the government is to abide by the Constitution and its obligations, they should be released.
We appeal to you as leader of the nation to see that the aforesaid unconstitutional injustices and discrimination against believers be done away with and rectified. 1985
Signed by the following priests, Fathers:
1. Petras Adomonis, 2. Bronius Antanaitis, 3. Juozas Antanavičius, 4. Vincentas Arlauskas, 5. Boleslovas Babrauskas, 6. Jonas Bagdonas, 7. Juozas Bagdonas, 8. Bronius Balai ša, 9. Antanas Balai ši s, 10. Vytautas Balašauskas, 11. Jonas Balčiūnas, 12. Juozas Balčiūnas, 13. Jurgis Balickaitis, 14. Kostas Balsys, 15. Petras Baltuška, 16. Algis Baniui is, 17. Petras Baniulis, 18. Kazimieras Baronas, 19. Henrikas Bernatovičius, 20. Valdas Braukyla.
21. Adolfas Breivė, 22. Petras Budriūnas, 23. Jonas Buliauskas, 24. Jonas Butkys, 25. Paul ius Ciuckis, 26. Feliksas Čišauskas, 27. Algirdas Dauknys, 28. Juozas Dubnikas, 29. Steponas Galvydis, 30. Juozapas Garška, 31. Juozas Giedraitis, 32. Kazimieras Girnius, 33. Mykolas Gečys, 34. Antanas Gobis, 35. Al fonas Grauslys, 36. Antanas Gružauskas, 37. Klemensas Gutauskas, 38. Gaudentas Ikamas, 39. Vincentas Inkratas, 40. Tadas Ivanovskis.
41. Alfonsas Jančys, 42. Paulius Jankevičius, 43. Juozas Janulis, 44. Vytautas Jasiūnas, 45. Jonas Jatulis, 46. Paulius Juozėnas, 47. Jonas Jurgaitis, 48. Antanas Jušks, 49. Alfonsas Kadžius, 50. Antanas Kairys, 51. Vytautas Kapočius, 52. Stasys Kazėnas, 53. Lionginas Keršu I is, 54. Petras Kiela, 55. Antanas Kietis, 56. Anicetas Kisiekius, 57. Paulius Klezys, 58. Petras Krasauskas, 59. Vladas Kremenskas, 60. Stanislovas KrumpI iauskas.
61. Petras Kuzmickas, 62. Jonas Labakojis, 63. Juozas Laukšas, 64. Leonas Lukšas, 65. Petras Matkevičius, 66. Vytautas Marozas, 67. Aleksandras Masys, 68. Vytautas Masys, 69. Juozapas Mickevičius, 70. Antanas Mikulėnas, 71. Algirdas Miškinis, 72. Paulius Miškinis, 73. Antanas Mitrikas, 74. Kazimieras Mozūras, 75. Jonas Nagulevičius, 76. Algirdas Narušis, 77. Lionginas Nenišis, 78. Petras Nykstąs, 79. Albinas Paltanavičius, 80. Antanas Petrauskas.
81. Albinas Pipiras, 82. Jonas Pranevičius, 83. Augustinas Pranskietis, 84. Robertas Pukenis, 85. Izidorius Puriuškis, 86. Antanas Rameikis, 87. Jonas Rimša, 88. Edmundas Rinkevičius, 89. Pranciškus Sabaliauskas, 90. Raimondas Saprigonas, 91. Aurelijus Simonaitis, 92. Bronius Simsonas, 93. Leonardas Skardinskas, 94. Jonas Skirelis, 95. Mykolas Stonys, 96. Vincentas Stankevičius, 97. Bronius Strazdas, 98. Alfonsas Strielčiūnas, 99. Aloyzas Sungaila, 100. Paulius Svirskis.
101. Ignas šaučiūnas, 102. Bronius Šlapelis, 103. Paulius Šliauteris, 104. Gediminas Šukys, 105. Juozapas šumskis, 106. Albertas Talačka, 107. Leonardas Tamošauskas, 108. Pranas
Tamulionis, 109. Stasys Tamuilionis, 110. Petras Tarulis, 111. Petras Tijušas, 112. Vytautas Tvari jonas, 113. Jonas Uogintas, 114. Benediktas Urbonas, 115. Sigitas Uždavinys, 116. Jonas Vaičiūnas, 117. Antanas Vaiančiūnas, 118. Antanas Valantinas, 119. Juozapas Varnas, 120. Paulius Varžinskas.
121. Antanas Vaškevičius, 122. Virginijus Vailentas, 123. Vytautas Zakrys, 124. Stasys Zubavičius, 125. Antanas Zulionis, 126. Bronius Žilinskas, 127. Serafinas Žvinys.
P.S. In the Diocese of Panevėžys, at the time of these signatures, there were 130 priests. Copies have been sent to the bishops and to the administrators of the dioceses.
To: The Bishops and Apostolic Administrators of Lithuania From: The Priests of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis
We the undersigned priests of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis, concerned that the 600-year jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania be suitably commemorated request the bishops of Lithuania and administrators of dioceses:
1.To invite our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, to visit Lithuania in 1987.
2.To request the Holy Father that he, on the occasion of the jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania, proclaim Blessed the Servant of God, Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis, and that he officially sanction veneration of Mykolas Giedraitis, who has the title of Blessed.
3. To request the government of the Soviet Union:
a. That priests should not be prevented from catechizing children as Canon Law requires,
b. That the faithful, especially children and youth, not be persecuted for the public practice of their religion and that they not be forced to join atheistic organizations,
c. That the Cathedral of Vilnius and the church of Klaipėda be returned to the faithful, that permission be given to erect churches in new cities, as well as in the suburbs of Vilnius, Kaunas and other large cities,
d. That the exiled Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, be allowed to return to his duties,
e. That the faithful be allowed to make use of the same freedom of speech and press as the atheists,
f. That the leadership of the Church not be interfered with in the appointment of clergy,
g. That suitable candidates not be prevented from preparing for the priesthood, and from being priests,
h. That the cases of Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius, Jonas Matulionis and lay believers, sentenced for defending the rights of the Church and of the faithful be reviewed, and that they be released,
4.To acquaint the believing public more widely with the life, virtues and activities of the Servant of God, Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis. Likewise, the other eminent personages of our nation be publicized: Father Andrius Rudamina, Father Jurgis Pabrėža, Father Alfonsas Lipniūnas, Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys, Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius, Professor Stasys Šalkauskas, Professor Pranas Dovydaitis, Educator Marija Pečkauskaitė and others.
5.To see that the seminary administration and faculty, behave everywhere as bright examples of Church spirit, and that they convey that spirit to their charges. Not to ordain to the priesthood seminarians who have not developed an ecclesiastical spi r i t in the semi nary.
6. To continue the successfully initiated work of propagating temperence. To see that in all dioceses and parishes, at least once a year temperence days would be organ i zed.
June 1, 1986
Signed by the following, Fathers:
1. Pranas Adomaitis 2. Vincas Akelis 3. Antanas Aleksandravičius 4. Algirdas Andrišiūnas 5. Jonas Alesius 6. Vincas Bandža 7. Jonas Baranauskas 8. Kęstutis Bekasovas 9. Vladas Bobinas 10. Jonas Bučinskas 11. Vytautas Būdas 12. Jonas Būga 13. Boleslovas Čegelskas 14. Vincas Čėsna 15. Vaclovas Degutis 16. Antanas Diškevičius 17. Gvidonas Dovydaitis 18. Petras Dumbliauskas 19. Antanas Gražulis 20. Juozas Gražulis 21. Jonas Grudzinskas 22. Juozas Gumauskas 23. Vytautas Guogis 24. Vytautas Gustai t is
25. Vytautas Insoda 26. Vincas Jalinskas 27. Boleslovas Jarušauskas 28. Juozas Klimavičius 29. Kazimieras Juškevičius 30. Petras Krasauskas 31. Kazimieras Kudirka 32. Lionginas Kunevičius 33. Juozas Kupstai t is 34. Antanas Liupšys 35. A. Liesis 36. Jonas Maksvytis 37. Jonas Malinauskas 38. Juozas Matulait is 39. Juozas Matulevičius 40. Antanas Mieldažys 41. Juozas Mieldažys 42. Stasys Mikalajūnas 43. Kazimieras Montvila 44. Petras Orlickas 45. Bronius Paltanavičius 46. Algirdas Pasilauskas 47. Pranas Perlaitis 48. Vincas Petruševičius
49. Ignas Plioraitis 50. Gvidonas Pušinaitis 51. Juozas Radzevičius 52. Vaclovas Radzevičius 53. Antanas Račkauskas 54. Boleslovas Ražukas 55. VaIer i jas Rudzinskas 56. Salemonas Samuolis 57. Petras Stika 58. Vaclovas Stakėnas 59. Gintautas Steponai t is 60. Jurgis Sventickas 61. Pranciškus Šulskis 62.
Antanas Urbonavičius 63. Vitas Urbonas 64. Juozas Užupis 65. Petras Vagneris 66. Romualdas Vaičiulaitis 67. Vytautas Vaitkauskas 68. Tadeušas Villianas 69. Jonas Varkala 70. Antanas Vitkus 71. Juozas Žemaitis 72. Kęstutis Brilius
Not found, Fathers:
1. Petras Balanda 2. Andrius Gustaitis 3. Donatas Jasulaitis 4. Juozas Juškaitis 5. Jonas Kavaliauskas 6. Leonardas Kavaliūnas 7. Jonas Palukaitis 8. Andriejus Rimas 9. Jonas Rusinąs 10. Alfonsas Sadauskas 11. Gracijus Sakalauskas 12. Gintautas Skučas 13. Juozas šalčius 14. Raimundas Žukauskas
To: Mikhail Gorbachev, Secretary General, Communist Party, USSR Copies to: The Bishops and diocesan administrators of Lithuania From: The priests of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis of the Catholic Church in Lithuania
At the present time, Fathers Sigitas Tamkevičius, Alfonsas Svarinskas, Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis and others, rank-and-file faithful, suffer imprisonment and exile.
To the believing public and to us priests of Lithuania, it is clear that they have been sentenced for faithfulness to God and the Church.
On that basis, we priests of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis request that you release the imprisoned priests and other faithful.
Signed by the Fathers:
1. Pranas Adomaitis 2. Vincas Akelis 3. Antanas Aleksandravičius 4. Algirdas Andrišiūnas 5. Jonas Alesius 6. Vincas Bandža 7. Jonas Baranauskas 8. Kęstutis Bekasovas 9. Juozas Berteška 10. Vladas Bobinas 11. Jonas Bučinskas 12. Gediminas Budevičius 13. Vytautas Būdas 14. Jonas Būga 15. Boleslovas Čegelskas 16. Vincas Čėsna 17. Vaclovas Degutis 18. Antanas Diškevičius 19. Gvidonas Dovydaitis 20. Petras Dumbliauskas 21. Vincas Dumčius 22. Antanas Gražulis 23. Juozas Gražulis 24. Jonas Grudzinskas 25. Juozas Gumauskas
26. Vytautas Guogis 27. Vytautas Gustaitis 28. Andrius Gustaitis 29. Vytautas Insoda 30. Vincas Jalinskas 31. Boleslovas Jarušauskas 32. Juozas Juškaitis 33. Juozas Klimavičius 34. Kazimieras Juškevičius 35. Petras Krasauskas 36. Kazimieras Kudirka 37. Lionginas Kunevičius 38. Juozas Kupstai t is 39. A. Liesis 40. Antanas Liupšys 41. Jonas Maksvytis 42. Juozas Matulaitis 43. Juozas Matulevičius 44. Antanas
Mieldažys 45. Juozas Mieldažys 46. Stasys Mikalajūnas 47. Kazimieras Montvila 48. Petras Orlickas 49. Bronius Paltanavičius 50. Algirdas Pasilauskas 51. Juozas Pečiukonis 52. Pranas Per lai t is
53. Ignas Plioraitis 54. Gvidonas Pušinaitis 55. Juozas Radzevičius 56. Vaclovas Radzevičius 57. Antanas Račkauskas 58. Boleslovas Ražukas 59. Valerijas Rudzinskas 60. Salemonas Samuolis 61. Petras Stika 62. Gintautas Skučas 63. Vaclovas Stakėnas 64. Gintautas Steponaitis 65. Jurgis Sventickas 66. Juozas Šalčius 67. Pranciškus Šulskis 68. Antanas Urbonavičius 69. Vitas Urbonas 70. Juozas Užupis 71. Petras Vagneris 72. Romualdas Vaičiulaitis 73. Vytautas Vaitkauskas 74. Tadeušas Vii lianas 75. Jonas Varkala 76. Antanas Vitkus 77. Juozas Zdebskis 78. Juozas Žemaitis 79. Kęstutis Brilius
Not found, Fathers:
1. Donatas Jasulaitis 2. Jonas Kavaliauskas 3. Leonardas Kavaliūnas 4. Jonas Palukaitis 5. Vincas Petruševičius 6. Rimas Andriejus 7. Jonas Rusinas 8. Alfonsas Sadauskas 9. Gracijus Sakalauskas 10. Kazimieras Skučas 11. Raimundas Žukauskas
On June 10, 1986, Petras Anilionis, Commissioner for Religious Affairs "brainwashed" the Deans of the Diocese of Kaišiadorys, responding to a communication from the priests to Mikhail Gorbachev, and trying to convince them that Soviet religious freedom is especially broad: "Even the children of church committee members can enter institutions."
Anilionis "forgot" to mention that only those youths are accepted who renounce their faith, enrolling in atheistic organizations, and who have not been involved with the KGB.
During the meeting the Commissioner faulted Father Jonas Zubrus for preaching in parishes other than his own.
V i i n i u s
On June 11, 1986, Commissioner Petras Anilionis of the Council for Religious Affairs summoned the Deans of the Archdiocese of Vilnius to the Chancery. To them, as he had to deans of other dioceses, the Commissioner responded to the petition from the priests of the Dioceses of Kaunas and Panevėžys, addressed to Mikhail Gorbachev.
The Commissioner expressed his displeasure at the fact that signatures are being collected on greetings to His Excellency, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, on the occasion of the fifty-year jubilee of his priesthood. It is the understanding of Anilionis that each priest can greet the bishop separately, but such collective greetings are a source of scandal to Lithuanians abroad, and specifically the magazine, Akiračiai (Perspect ives , published in Chicago Trans. Note).
On June 18, 1986, the deans of the Dioceses of Kaunas and Vilkaviškis were summoned to the chancery office. Here, Petras Anilionis responded to the communication of priests of the dioceses of Kaunas and Panevėžys to Mikhail Gorbachev.
"What hypocrisy! Some priests whom I have visited agreed that it it is good that they arrested Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius -- life is more peaceful! But when someone comes to collect signatures, they rush to sign.
"Remember, these documents are not thrown into the trash. They are catalogued and analyzed and when something comes up, everything will be recalled. Then you can blame only yourselves," the angry Anilionis began the meeting.
Anilionis was displeased that the petitions were based on international agreements and declarations. In his opinion, It would do to note well that in international agreements, rights and freedoms are provided for and guaranteed to the degree that they do not undermine the security of the country and the system of government.
"You have complete freedom of the press: 160,000 prayerbooks! When were there so many? Almost 200 per parish! And how many people are there in church? For example, in the parish of Šlavantai at Easter -- 33, in Šventežeris -- 120, in Lazdijai, about 200 -- so there are quite enough," Anilionis continued to lie.
The Dean of Lazdijai, Father Vincas Jalinskas, objected, saying that this was not true: In Lazdijai at Easter, there are over 2000 people and in Šventežeris, at least 1200 people!
Petras Anilionis was very displeased that there are parishes, e.g., in the Deanery of Lazdijai --Veisiejai and Kapčiamiestis-- which do not give government agencies statistical information about religious ministration, while other parishes submit deflated figures. "We shall record that there were no religious ministrations in these churches. Know that this can have painful consequences in the future when the state determines the editions for future prayerbooks," the Commissioner again threatened.
Touching on the question of catechisms, Anilionis affirmed that the government allowed the publication of enough catechisms; besides, some things from the catechisms were printed in the prayerbooks. "'And in general, why lie?' a priest said to me, 'we provide our own catechisms!' Then why cry that there are not enough?" the Commissioner persisted. (The faithful are provided with illegally published catechisms and prayerbooks at the risk of raids and arrests -- two cases concerning holy cards, raids, investigations and threats: Is this the "complete" Soviet freedom of press touted by Anilionis? -- Ed. Note)
During his lecture, the speaker recalled two seminarians who were expelled from the seminary on his orders for possession of illegally reproduced religious literature. Allegedly the commissioner knows that typewritten literature is still spreading in the seminary. "If we still catch them, there will be no mercy! There are complaints of a shortage of priests," Anilionis continued. "Then why do you let them go to other republics. The seminary in Kaunas prepares priests only for Lithuania, and the one in Riga for the entire Soviet Union. Take, for instance, Father Jonas Zubrus -- what is he running around for in Novosibirsk and elsewhere? If there are believers there, let them send their candidates to the seminary in Riga, and they will have their own priests! As for Father Zubrus, there are enough village churches in Lithuania."
The Commissioner agreed that in the Diocese of Telšiai, there is a great shortage of priests. Not infrequently, one priest serves three or four parishes, only it is his conviction that the extremist priests are responsible for such a situation, since they purposely incite to distribute the newly ordained priests to dioceses unevenly, so that they might be able to blame the Soviet government for the shortage of priests. To solve this problem, Anilionis advised straightening out the extremists not to try teaching the bishops and the situation will change. (We cannot understand why Anilionis could not bring himself to point out a single diocese in which there was a surplus of priests, or no priestless parishes -- Ed. Note.)
"In your petitions you complain that psychotics are being accepted for the seminary. For this, the priests who write them recommendations are responsible. Give us enough loyal and healthy candidates instead of fanantics and anti-Soviets, and they will be admitted," Anilionis explained.
"Failure to get along with the Soviet government will always produce bad results, and don't try to pressure me. For instance, in the church of Radviliškis, it is essential to raise the ceiling. The pastor, Vice-dean L. Vaičelionis, in an attempt to pressure me, said, 'People are getting ready to go to Moscow, so let's compromise, give us permission!' They don't have to go to Moscow, I am quite aware of the situation. It is necessary to raise the ceiling. The people want it, but neither I nor the Soviet government are to blame, but the pastor, who will not give in to the requirements of the local government and does not abide by the Regu I at ions for Religious Assoc i at ions. As long as such a situation exists, the parish will receive no permit.
The Commissioner would not allow Father Vaičelionis to explain, but interrupted him and continued. The speaker was displeased that priests and faithful are praying not only In church, but also at sites made sacred by the people: the Hill of Crosses, the little cemetery Žarėnai-Latveiiai, and especially in AIksneniai. "Here the extremists, Father Antanas Lukošaitis and Father Antanas Aleksandravičius, with the assistance of women living as nuns, are inciting religious passions praying outside, in public, when just a few hundred meters away is a church. It is time to straighten out these places," Anilionis complained.
"You cannot say we interfere in clergy appointments; for Instance, we did not allow Father Juozas Gražulis to be appointed to Rudamina only because his appointment there was sought by foreign agents -- chroniclers wishing to have the equivalent of their own network of correspondents in the republic. We wi11 not support such plans! For the fact that we did not allow that same priest to be appointed to Meteliai, you should be grateful. We are concerned that the Church have him longer. Being closer to his extremist brother (Father Antanas Gražulis, who is serving in the church of Alytus II), he can follow in the footsteps of the extremists, leading to prison. We are seeing to it that Father Gražulis have good friends and a good environment protecting him from this misfortune," said Commissioner Anilionis.
The Dean of Vilkaviškis, Father Vytautas Vaitauskas, asked what to do about catechizing children. In Gražiškiai, where he served earlier, there were only a few children, so it was possible to test them, each in a separate facility. But what to do in Vilkaviškis, where there are hundreds of children preparing for First Communion?
Vice Chairman Juozas Urbonas of the Rayon Executive Committee fell upon the children being tested in church, confiscated their catechisms, and threatened them.
Anilionis emphasized that priests were allowed only to test children, and by no means to teach, or give any explanations. What it means to test, every priest must know well and abide by it. As for Urbonas, he was soon due to retire. So Anilionis advised them not to create a commotion, and as an example of cooperation wi th the government, he indicated the parish of Kybartai. "The example of Kybartai stands as a witness of how beautifully atheists and believers can get along together when no disturbance is raised. As long as Sigitas Tamkevičius was around, it appeared that the flood of petitions from so-called wronged believers would not end. But when the sensible Father Alfonsas Sadauskas came, everything straightened out -- even the unmarried women claiming to be nuns are unable to stir up the believers. In this regard, Kybartai should be an example to other parishes," Anilionis said. (Not so, the faithful of Kybartai have many painful and unresolved problems -- Ed. Note.)
The extremists and the Voice of America have vilified our conferences as "brainwashing," the Commissioner persisted. "We know other examples. Some bishops allow the extremists to brainwash them (references were made to the bishops of Telšiai and Kaišiadorys), and after such brainwashing, we will not be able to talk sense with them. The bishops are supposed to brainwash the extremists, and not the other way around!"
The worst thing in the problem of petitions, according to Ani Mortis, is the fact that the document from the priests of the Panevėžys Diocese was sent out with the return address of little old Father Jonas Vaičiūnas (and when he was required to explain himself, the aforesaid priest replied, "I am old and not afraid of anything, I'm going to die soon anyway!" All this, in the words of the Commissioner, is a flight from legal responsibility and an abuse of the Soviet government's humaneness.), while the priests of the Archdiocese of Kaunas, in their petition, gave the chancery address.
After his lecture, Commissioner Anilionis refused to join the others at dinner.
On April 1, 1986, members of rayon church committees were invited to Joniškis for a meeting with Assistant Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Jozėnas. They were asked not to inform parish priests about the up-coming meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, Jozėnas praised Soviet freedom: In his opinion, enough prayerbooks are being published. The priests are supplied with missals; whoever wishes may participate in religious services, etc.
For about half an hour, Vice Commissioner Jozėnas spelled out to those assembled the "offenses" of Father Gustavas Gudanavičius, pastor of Žagarė. According to Jozėnas, the transgressions of this extremist can be separated into four categor ies:
1.Catechization of children. Last summer, before the evening Mass, he taught children religion.
2.He organizes funeral processions through the city with cross and banners.
3. He preaches political sermons.
4. He writes calumnious statements to the Soviet government. In these statements, he openly attacks Soviet government policy with regard to the Church. "It appears that Father Gudanavičius is convinced that we wi11 not dare send him as an elderly person to prison for anti-Soviet propaganda, but this cannot continue. In the first place, the church committee of Žagarė must require its pastor to discontinue his criminal activity," Vice Commissioner Jozėnas said.
Last year, while Father Gudanavičius was teaching religion to children, District Chairwoman Jasienė burst into church accompanied by Militiawoman Jūralienė, in uniform, and a representative from the school. Ignoring the fact that there were grown-ups in church with their children, the members of the committee took down the names of the children under instruction, and drew up a complaint against Father Gudanavičius. The rayon prosecutor warned Father Gudanavičius that for teaching the children religion, he risked three years in prison. Soon after, that same mi I i tiawoman, Jūra Menė, complained in the rayon newspaper that children were becoming delinquents.
Father Gudanavičius explained to the people in a sermon that the proliferation of delinquency is associated with adolescents' ignorance in the area of religion. He said that children were being prevented from knowing their faith, and this in itself, puts them on the road of amoral conduct. After this sermon, Father Gudanavičius was accused of giving a political sermon. Party organizer Jasas wrote in the rayon newspaper that in the District of Žagarė, twenty-eight propagandists are spreading the atheist worldview. Working especially well is individual contact among believers: Atheists actively visit families of believers and try to convince parents not to let their children go to church.
The pastor commented on this article from the pulpit, saying that there is only one priest in the parish against twenty-eight propagandists, and even he is forbidden to visit the families of the faithful...
The sermon was considered to be a political indiscretion. Jozėnas demanded that church committee members monitor the activities of priests more strictly. According to the Office of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, church committees are requi red:
1.To request rayon executive committees for permission for this or that priest to come in for religious festivals. The commit tee must not allow priests without such permission to approach the altar.
2.They must see that priests do not teach the children catechism.
3.In the parishes, All Souls' processions to the cemetery must not be organized; funerals must not become religious demonstrations. The priest is forbidden to take part in the funeral procession. It is forbidden to carry a cross or banners.
Even though the lecturer complained about the increase in activities of priests in the Joniškis Rayon, nevertheless as a matter of fact, in the rayon, as in other rayons in Northern Lithuania, the situation is sad. Following are a few examples:
Last year, Father Alvydas Granickas, who had just completed seminary studies, was assigned to Joniškis as associate pastor. The atheists, seeing that the associate was consorting with children and youth, began demonstratively to follow him, even on sick calls. The atheists dared to instruct the pastor of Joniškis which'priests to invite to religious festivals, and which not to invite. The church committee of the parish of Kriukai, without informing the pastor, is carrying out directions of the civil government. In the church of Pašvitinys, there are almost no children or youth. Area Dean, Father Boleslovas Stasuitis, intimidated by the atheists, asked one mother not to allow her children to serve at Mass. In parishes of the rayon, very few children are being prepared for First Communion.
The situation in Žagarė is somewhat better. Here, about twenty children are prepared for First Communion each year, where approximately ten years ago, over one hundred children used to be prepared. Terrorized in various ways are those people who in any way assist His Excellency, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius: Driving him to church festivals, priests' funerals or anywhere else. Penalizing them, officials openly say, "Don't drive the bishop or priests around!"
In atheist events, at the Žagarė school, pupils are turned against the bishop. It is explained to them that as long as Bishop Steponavičius is alive, Vilnius shall not have a bishop, and that is the only obstacle.
P r i e n a i
On April 3, 1986, members of the Prienai church committee were summoned to the rayon Executive Committee. About twenty-five persons assembled, with the atheists definately in the majority. The meeting was conducted by Vice Commisssioner for Religious Affairs, Jozenas. At the beginning of the meeting, the speaker talked about the Party Congress, emphasizing that under the Soviet government, living conditions had improved considerably. "Salaries are good and automobiles are easy to obtain: During the religious festival at 2emaiCig Kalvarija (Calvary of the Lowlanders), there are over five thousand automobiles", said Vice Commissioner Jozenas.
Jozenas scolded the faithful for petitions written to the Soviet government in Moscow, demanding the return of churches which have been closed and the release of the unjustly sentenced priests.
During the meeting, it was explained that priests are forbidden to make home visitations, and that it is forbidden to visit believers for the purpose of blessing their apartments. Committee member Vobolis objected, "Is it your understanding that I am supposed to bring my house to church to be blessed? After all, it is not the Party Secretary we invite, but a priest. It is we the faithful who support the church and the priests; you don't contribute a kopek, so please do not interfere in our affairs."
Asked why young men are prevented from enrolling in the seminary, and why those who enroll are terrorized by the KGB in
Father Juozas Žemaitis, pastor of the parish in Šakiai.
various ways, Jozenas tried to avoid the question, explaining that many more candidates are accepted into the seminary than it is possible, in general, to take. As for the fact that many churches lack priests, the speaker expresed the view, "There's nothing you can do about it -- there is also a shortage of agricultural specialists. "
One committee member inquired whether it would be possible to obtain permission to erect a cross. The question went unanswered. Last year, in response to a similar question, Jozėnas said that permission to erect a cross is given by the rayon government, in consultation with the local architect; however, the party leaders and architects sitting in the hall remained silent. They knew well that they do not have the right to give such permission. The Rayon Executive Committee Chairman, Maruškeviôius, said in his speech that there are laws which the faithful will have to keep quite strictly in the future.
On June 19. 1986, Father Juozas Žemaitis, Pastor of the parish of šakiai, was summoned to the rayon Executive Committee. Waiting for him were Šakiai Rayon Executive Committee Vice Chairwoman Mrs. Kasparevičienė, City Executive Chairman Angonis and Prosecutor Diržius. Vice Chairwoman Kasparevičienė scolded the pastor for ignoring the warning he received last year, and organizing children again this year, and systematically teaching them religion, thereby violating Par. 143 of the Criminal Code. Father Žemaitis explained that there is no organized teaching of children. During evening devotions, sermons catechetical in content are preached to all the faithful among whom there are no fewer grownups than children. All who wish to listen do so. Prosecutor Diržius advised him to send the children home and to speak only to the adults. The pastor declared that in Lithuania so far, there probably is no priest who would order children from church.
"There have been enough catechisms printed, let the parents themselves teach their own children religion," said Vice Chairwoman Kasparevičienė. Father Žemaitis corrected the Vice Chairwoman, reminding her that the supply of catechisms printed six months earlier, in a small edition, was bought up in a few weeks and that lately, it has been impossible to purchase or even borrow catechisms. To Vice Chairwoman Kasparevičienė's and Prosecutor Diržius' demand that he not violate Soviet law, Father Žemaitis responded that he has never been involved in ant i-state activity and has never broken any laws, but to explain the truths of the faith, and to help parents prepare their children for the reception of the sacraments is his essential duty as a priest.
Š i l a l ė
On July 10, 1986, a group of responsible Rayon Executive Committee officials forced their way into the church of Šilalė: Vice Chairwoman Mrs. M. Karinauskiene, TGTVK Director Lesčiauskas, Homeroom Teacher Mrs. Skalauskiene of the general class and Cultural Section Director Vytautas Jankauskas. In church at that time, Mass was being offered. Taking part in the services were seven women and about fifty children. The children were responding out loud to the prayers of the Mass. While services were going on, the officials did not interfere with anyone. But afterwards, all went to the sacristy and declared to the pastor, Father Antanas Ivanauskas, that they found him teaching children religion. The pastor explained that he had been offering Mass, and the children had taken part in the services. The officials drafted a report, stating that the children were being instructed, and forced the pastor to sign it. Father Ivanauskas explained in the second half of the report that the report had been incorrectly drafted. Father Ivanauskas was fined fifty rubles.
Gargždai (Klaipėda Rayon)
On December 30, 1985, Father Antanas Šeškevičius, the associate pastor of the parish of Gargždai, was summoned to the Laugaliai Home for Eldery Invalids to administer the sacraments to a seriously ill patient. Other patients of the home wished to make use of the same opportunity. The priest had barely taken care of the dying patient when a disturbance was heard in the corridor. Mrs. Jadvyga Dotienė, Assistant Director of the infirmary, was shooing away all those who wanted to meet with the priest... A frightened elderly lady, weeping, complained to the departing priest, "Now they'll take us away to the insane asylum..." The old people are afraid on account of the case of Janina Riaukaitė: Upon complaining about religious restrictions and other shortcomings, she was taken to the Infirmary for Psychiatric Invalids at Macikai, in the Rayon of Šilutė. Miss Riaukaitė requested several times to be returned to the infirmary at Laugaliai, but no one from the adminstration paid any attention to her requests.
The director of the infirmary agrees to admit a priest only to see patients obviously dying, but she refuses to grant requests of patients who are no longer ambulatory to call a priest.
To: The Supreme Court of the Lithuanian SSR From: Father Antanas Šeškevičius, son of Kazys
Resident of the Klaipėda Rayon
Gargždg m., Tilto 1-2
The Administrative Committee of the Gargždai City, Klaipėda Rayon , Council of Peoples' Deputies Executive Committee, fined me 50 rubles on March 26 of this year for accompanying a deceased person along Žemaitės Street in ecclesiastical apparel, thus violating Par. 50 of the Regulations for Religious Associations. Disagreeing wi th their decision, I appealed to the Peoples' Court of the Klaipėda Rayon, but the latter confirmed the fine on April 17 of this year, giving no consideration either to my testimony or that of witnesses, nor that of participants in the funeral or the faithful. It is my strong conviction that the administrative committee and the Peoples' Court acted unjustly, so I come to you requesting you to correct the mistake which has been made: to annul the decision for the fol lowing reasons:
1. Art. 50 forbids religious processions, rituals and ceremonies out-of-doors. However, a funeral is neither a procession nor a ceremony, nor a religious ritual, but a parade to the cemetery. When a soldier, a student or a Party Member, an atheist, is interred, there is a suitable parade with visible signs of respect. When a believer is interred, by centuries-old tradition, the priest, in funeral garb, precedes the casket. No one calls the funeral whether it be of soldiers, Party members or believers a procession or ceremony, but rather a funeral parade. It is a religious procession when they walk with the Blessed Sacrament through the city and the fields or when on ember days, the faithful approach the crosses. But nowadays, in our country, such processions are impossible.
Therefore, on March 14, the family and friends of K. Kerpė wished to bury him as a Catholic, and not as an atheist, so they asked me to accompany the remains in procession to the old cemetery, 300 meters further on. It is my duty to carry out the wishes of the faithful in accord with the law. Hence, neither participants in the parade nor the priest violated Par. 50 of the Regulat ions for Religious Associât ions. Hence, the priest was penal i zed un justly.
2. Mrs. J. Miliauskienė, Chairwoman of the City of Gargždai, in 1985 sent the church committee a letter stating that for reasons of safety, "All forms of parades, marches and processions including funeral processions" are forbidden, but that order was not promulgated anywhere publicly: not in the newspaper nor anywhere else, but parades and non-church funerals continue to take place as in the past. In other words, this ban is meant only for us. However, the faithful do not know this, so they accompany the remains from the city and the villages to the church, and in keeping with an old tradition of the residents of Gargždai, to the old cemetery, and then they drive to the new cemetery in Laugaliai, 2 km away.
Moreover, the Administrative Commission in levying the fine on me stated to me and twenty of the faithful that processions are allowed, only the priest must sit in the cab of the truck. As a matter of fact, traffic along out-of-the-way Žemaitės Street is very sparse, so there is no interference. The Administrât i ve Commission, in levying the fine, said nothing either verbally or in writing about interference with traffic. The greatest criminal is the priest in his surplice and biretta before the casket, and not in the truck cab. Did he hinder traffic more than the wide truck carrying the casket? Is it logical to penalize him?
3. In 1977, Commissioner for Religious Affairs Kazimieras Tumėnas summoned me to Vilnius, and gave me an answer to my petition of July 19, 1977: The priest is allowed to precede the casket, and he may even carry the cross. He came to Gargždai and so informed Comrade Leita. Hence, we interred believers in this way without any interference until the unthinking outbursts of local officials last year, forbidding such a funeral. Is it possible that the comissioner understands Par. 50 less clearly than rank-and-file atheists who twist his words making it a criminal offense? Then all articles become chaotic. Each one explains things as he sees fit.
4.The funeral of a believer with a priest, cross and banners is guaranteed also in the Roman Catholic Ritual for the Dioceses of Lithuania, lid, pps. 256-265, printed by the government in 1966, and surely checked out with the government. Commissioner Tumėnas himself used i t as a basis for his actions. That Ritual has not been annulled.
5.This is the procedure for funerals even in cities of the rayon where traffic is lighter and in almost all non- rayon cities and towns, like Gargždai, and in villages. Is Gargždai a separate republic, where the laws are different?
6.The Peoples' Court of the Rayon of Klaipėda has been presented with an affadavit signed by 528 believers and participants in the funeral, in which, over their own signatures, they expressed the wish to inter their dear ones and to inter themselves at all times in the Catholic manner (with priest, cross and banners).
Three participants in the funeral of the late K. Kerpė (Stefanija Kerpienė, daughter of Jonas, residing in Dovi Mai; Stasė Urbonienė, daughter of Antanas, of the J. Janonis Collective Farm and Mrs. Zuzana Telšinskienė, living in Saulažoliai) clearly testified during the trial that they requested me to inter the deceased in the Catholic manner. I carried out their wishes; as a priest I could not do otherwise. I therefore request the Supreme Court to annul the unjust fine and, in this way, influence the government of the City of Gargždai not to interfere with funerals in the future.
Enclosures: 1. A copy of this petition for the Peoples' Court of the Rayon of Klaipėda. 2. A copy of the affidavit from the faithful of the parish of Gargždai and participants in the funeral.
Gargždai, April 21, 1986 Father A. Šeškevičius
P.S. On July 31. 1985, the Administrative Committee of the Gargždai Ci ty Execut ive Corrmi ttee had accused Father Antanas Šeškevičius of organizing a funeral procession from church to cemetery, and fined him 40 rubles. When Father Šeškevičius refused to pay the fine, Marshall Galina Kavoliūnienė showed up at his home, and in the presence of the witness Vladas Šatkauskas, confiscated a transistor radio, number VEF-202.
Kazokiškės (Trakai Rayon)
Father Jonas Zubrus was invited to preach during the Feast of Pentecost in the church of Kazokiškės. After the feast, the Rayon Administrative Committee fined the local pastor, Father Jonas Kazlauskas, 50 rubles for allowing Father Zubrus to preach without consulting rayon authorities.
Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis admonished Father Zubrus in writing for the sermon he delivered in Kazokiškės. The preacher had allegedly misinformed the faithful by asserting that the hopes of the 18th Century enlightenment and the positivists that education and science will solve all problems did not come about.
Tauragnai (Utena Rayon)
In June, 1986, the pastor of Tauragnai, Father Bronius Šlapelis, was given a 25-ruble fine for inviting priests from neighboring parishes to a parish religious festival without permission of the rayon authorities.
V i e v i s (Trakai Rayon)
In July, 1986, the Administrative Committee of Trakai Rayon penalized the pastor of Vievis, Father Antanas Cerna, 50 rubles eel7132 because visiting clergy had conducted services and preached in the church of Vievis during the Festival of Saints Peter and Paul, without obtaining permission of rayon authorities. After the reprimand from the government atheists, Father Černa's nerves were effected and he went to the hospital for treatment.
Vepriai (Ukmergė Rayon)
In Aukštaityje, the Festival of the Calvary of Vepriai is quite widely known. Although the Stations of the Cross were demolished a long time ago by the Soviet government, the faithful nevertheless come to Vepriai in great numbers from various places in Lithuania at Pentecost, and after Mass, singing hymns, they make the Way of the Cross, making use of the sites of the former shrines.
By order of the Soviet government, the local pastor, Father Juozas Vaičeliūnas, is required to report to Antanas Perednis, Vice Chairman of the Ukmergė Executive Committee, which priests are going to hold services during the festival days, or preach.
This year, Father Petras Tavoraitis, pastor of the neighboring parish of Pabaiskis, was invited to preach. Vice Chairman Perednis refused to give permission since Father Tavoraitis refuses to vote in the election and at All Souls', he goes with the believers to the cemetery to pray.
At approximately the same time when the elevation of Father Algirdas Gutauskas to monsignor was learned, the news spread in Lithuania about his interview with the Austrian newspaper Volksstimme (September 12, 1985). How authentic this interview is, what are the actual words of Father Gutauskas and what is the figment of the reporter's pen is difficult for the reader to judge...
The faithful are shocked by Administrator Gutauskas' statement that he does not know any people in the Diocese of Vilnius who have been persecuted or otherwise pressured on account of their religion or loyalty to the Church. A living example of such persecution is Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius of Vilnius, and his twenty-five-year-old exile. Surely Father Gutauskas has not forgotten that he himself was once calumniated in the press, forfeited his registration card, and for some time could not fully carry out his priestly duties!
During the interview, the administrator of the diocese mentioned that, "Politics is the affair of the Party and the government, and priests should pray."
At the time when Father Gutauskas' registration card was confiscated from him, he was not involved in politics, so what was he punished for? Nowadays, the administrator of the diocese, Father Gutauskas, travels abroad, his statements can be found in the atheist press (Canon Law forbids cooperating with the atheist press)... This is not a ministry of prayer...
Does the administrator abide by this rule expressed to the reporter that politics is not fitting for a priest?
When almost all those entering the seminary and studying there are terrorized by the KGB in one way or another, and when there is the public statement of Father Rokas Puzonas, describing in detail the ways in which this interference takes place, the assertion of Father Gutauskas that he does not know anything about interference by the civil authorities in acceptance of candidates to the priesthood is shocking. It is known to everyone in Lithuania what outside forces demand of the candidates and who is the final arbiter of their numbers -- the rector or the commissioner.
Asked about the convicted priests Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius, the administrator explained that he could not say much since the trial had taken place in Kaunas. As a matter of fact, the trial took place in Vilnius and caused a great sensation.
It is not without grounds that believers asked themselves how Father Gutauskas could have been ignorant about a trial
Petras Paulaitis lying in state in Kretinga.
which went on for about a week, when the faithful gathered every morning at the Gates of Dawn to pray, and only after that they rode over to the courthouse.
The administrator boasted that high-level ecclesiastics do not live so poorly: They travel abroad, see Rome, Lourdes, Nairobi... That is one side of the coin. But where is the other?
At the end of the interview, Father Gutauskas exhibited a prayerbook (or missal) printed on good paper at a government press, and bound in leather. It should be noted that the good paper is not a Soviet, but a Vatican gift, while the leather binding was not done at the government press, but privately.
If the honorable administrator really sees the present-day life of the Church in Lithuania the way he describes it in his interview, then how is it possible, ignoring the obvious facts, to administer Church affairs?
The atheists' permission to renovate this or that church is merely a secondary matter, doing little to help the proclamation of the Gospel in Lithuania today under pressure to become atheistic. When there are no believers what good will the restored churches be?
In the spring of 1986, the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis, demanded that the Interdiocesan Seminary of Kaunas delay the ordination of Deacon Edmundas Atkočiūnas to the priesthood. The reason was that Deacon Atkočiūnas failed to attend lectures on the Soviet Constitution during the academic year. Thanks to the reaction from priests and the efforts of Bishop Antanas Vaičius of Telšiai, the Commissioner withdrew his demand.
On February 19, 1986, Petras Paulaitis died in Kretinga, having served thirty-five years in Soviet camps. During the funeral, friends placed a Lithuanian tri-color ribbon on his casket. Funeral services were conducted by Father Liudvikas Šarkauskas. The pastor of Kretinga, Father Bronius Burneikis (even though he himself did not participate in the funeral), was summoned to come to Vilnius and give Commissioner Petras Anilionis an explanation concerning Petras Paulaitis' funeral. Bishop Antanas Vaičius of Telšiai was required to guarantee in writing that such "offenses" will not be repeated.
K a i š a d o r y s
After the appearance in Soviet Woman magazine of the article by V. Balkevičius entitled, "The Holy Family", cynically impugning the honor of Jesus and His mother, Mary, His Excellency Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of the Diocese of Kaišiadorys informed the editors of the magazine in writing that he was cancelling his subscription to the aforesaid journal.
On June 12, 1986, the sixtieth anniversary of the creation of the Ecclesiastical Province of Lithuania was commemorated in the Cathedral of Telšiai. Participating in the commemoration were: Bishops Liudvikas Povilonis, Vincentas Sladkevičius and Romualdas Krikščiūnas, Diocesan Administrator Msgr. Kazimieras Dulksnys, many priests and a great throng of the faithful, especially of the youth.
During the services, they prayed for the deceased bishops of Telšiai, chancery staff and seminary professors. After the services, the youth of the Telšiai Cathedral greeted their bishop, Antanas Vaičius, on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday and name day. At the end of services, Maironis' Lietuva brangi , mano Tėvynė ( Beloved Lithuania, My Homeland) rang out powerfully, and at the same time, emotionally.
Bishop Antanas Vaičius
On May 17, 1986, in the Church of Saint Michael, in Vilnius, the centennial of the birth of Professor Stasys Šalkauskis was corrrnemorated. Father Vaclovas Aliulis spoke in two sermons of his life, his person and his work. Participating in the commemoration was the wife of Professor Šalkauskis, whom the youth and the faithful from other cities of Lithuania presented with flowers after the services. A similar commemoration was held in the parish church of Saint Anthony in Kaunas.
Ž e m a i č i ų K a l v a r i j a
June 2-9, 1986, crowds of people from all over Lithuania thronged to the great religious festival of Žemaičių Kalvarija, especially many young people. Feeling, after a powerful religious experience, that all of the faithful are children of Mary's Land, and having drawn strength to live virtuously, the devotees returned home.
On Sunday, and on Wednesday of the festival which has become the traditional priests' day, Bishop Antanas Vaičius of Telšiai presided over the services and procession. At the shrines, sermons were preached. During the Festival of Žemaičių Kalvarija, 23,000 communions were distributed. Even though the KGB engaged in various forms of harassment, more of the faithful participated this year than last. Commissioner for Religious Affairs Petras Anilionis, wishing to begin monitoring the sermons preached during the festival, demanded that prior to the festival, Bishop Vaičius submit the names of those priests who were going to preach.
From the list of preachers which he received, Anilionis immediately struck the name of Father Edmundas Atkočiūnas. Despite the requirements of the Commissioner, about sixty sermons were preached at Žemaičių Kalvarija.
Immediately after the festival, Anilionis visited Bishop Vaičius in Telšiai and required that the Dean of Plungė, Father Kazimieras Gasčiūnas and the pastor of Žemaičių Kalvarija, Father Liudas Dambrauskas, be summoned. Anilionis sternly rebuked the bishop and the aforesaid priests for not abiding by his directives during the Festival of Žemaičių Kalvarija. The Commissioner was particularly bothered by the sermons preached by the Associate Pastor of Telšiai, Father Boleslovas Jonauskas, the pastor of Žarėnai-Latveliai, Father Algimantas Pakamanis and the pastor of Kiaukliai, Father Rokas Puzonas. For his sermon, Father Jonauskas was even summoned to the Vilnius KGB to explain himself.
Alksnėnai (Vilkaviškis Rayon)
On September 18, 1985, Vice Chairman Juozas Urbonas of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee came to see Father Antanas Lukošaitis, pastor of the parish of Alksnėnai. The Vice Chairman was displeased with the pastoral work of Father Lukošaitis among the faithful, especially the services in the Žalosios Cemetery and the fréquentation of the Alksnėnai Shrine by crowds of people. Because of the fact that the faithful travel to the shrine of Alksnėnai from just about all over Lithuania, and because Mass is held and sermons are delivered, Urbonas threatened to take care of Father Lukošaitis just as he had the priests of the parish of Kybartai, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis. The Vice Chairman sternly declared that a criminal case had been initiated against Father Lukošaitis. The priest replied, "In your hands is a stick, in ours is the rosary."
At this, the Vice Chairman calmed down and, bidding farewell, left the rectory.
On September 25, 1985, Father Lukošaitis was summoned to the Office of Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis for a lecture. The main charge was that he serves as many as four parishes. Anilionis declared that Masses held in the Žalioji Cemetery for the dead are not religious ceremonies allowed by law. The Commissioner recalled the case of Associate Pastor J. Matulionis as a "disturber of the peace" and gave Father Lukošaitis to understand that if he continued to hold services in the Žalioji Cemetery, he would be considered a similar disturber of the peace. As firmly as possible, he forbade the priest to service the chapels of Slabadai and the Žalioji Cemetery.
Taking his leave, Anilionis warned Father Lukošaitis to abide by all the directives which had been given.
Rumšiškės (Kaunas Rayon)
In October, 1985, with the permission of Father Juozas Žemaitis, scenes were shot in the church of Rumšiškės for the film Paskendulė ( The Drowned Woman). On one side of the church sat about one hundred actors and on the other, the faithful. In the sermon during the services, the pastor explained that the Church, too, must contribute to "culture". "Is it our duty to add to the work of those for whom it is already difficult?" Father Žemaitis sympathized with the filmmakers.
Even the weekly Literatūra ir Menas ( Literature and Art) was scandalized by the atheistic distortions in the film.
M i k o l i š k i a i (Kretinga Rayon)
On March 11, 1986, the church committee of the parish of Mikoliškiai addressed to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR a request for help:
"On July 28, 1976, the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the LSSR ratified by decree the Regulations for Reiigious Associations. The third regulation guarantees 'the religious association has the right to obtain... means of transport'. For our parish, this regulation is very practical for we must obtain a bus with about twenty-six seats, or at least a Latvija to bring communal farmers from the villages to church on Sundays, and to take them home, for they live 4-11 km. from the church, and it is impossible to get there by scheduled bus or to come back; the schedule is not convenient. For elderly people to go and to return on foot is impossible, and only three families still I i ve near the church.
"We requested the motorpool to change the bus schedule for Sundays, but they did not deign to do so, even though it would not have been difficult. For some time, we used to hire buses from various agencies, but the local government forbade this. We requested the administration of the J. Janonis Communal Farm to transport its workers on Sundays to church and to bring them back, but they refused to do so. What are we to do? We are forced to avail ourselves of the right granted by you to obtain our own means of transportation. We applied to the Council of Ministers of the LSSR, asking whether they could sell us a used bus, or at least a Latvija. The response was positive, but it required the consent of the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs. The latter explained that in the Reguiations, the word transporation means only a light automobile. At first, even the Commissioner allowed us to acquire a bus, but he quickly began to explain this regulation in his own fashion.
"In the petition, the faithful of the parish of Mikoliškiai note the fact that there is no logic in the actions of Commissioner Anilionis: 'No permission is needed to obtain a light automobile', while in the Regulations, it is clearly stated that the association has the right to obtain the means of transportation. 'That is inhumane,' write the faithful, 'a special effort is being made to make life difficult for communal farmers.' Meanwhile, the Soviet Constitution asserts, 'The Communist Party of the Soviet Union exists for the people and serves the people.' (Par. 6)
"We hope to receive a just and humane reply and permission to purchase at least a used bus," the church committee of the parish of Mikoliškiai ends its petition.
On April 19, 1986, the church committee of Mikoliškiai again applied to Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis with the request that he facilitate transportation. The people of Mikoliškiai name in their petition a whole list of agencies and organizations: The LSSR Ministry of Automobiles, Transportation and Highways, the carpools of Kretinga and Klaipėda and the administration of the J. Janonis Communal Farm, all of which refused to help them.
"Just as you cannot force a person to abstain from food and drink, so you will never be able to force a believer not to go to church," it states in the petition. "Therefore, we request you, in the name of all of us, to help us by your intervention. You have enough power to address the appropriate agencies. ...Help us to rent a bus because this is possibly easier. For the humaneness you show us, we wi11 be thankful."
Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis refused to assist the fai thful of Mikoliškiai.
P r i e n a i
To: Comrade M. Gorbachev, General Secretery of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Copies to: The Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of Lithuania Commissioner P. Anilionis of the Council for Religious Affairs
From: The Faithful of the Parish of Prienai ,
For a number of years now, the priests of our parish have been terrorized for visiting the apartments of the faithful (1986, City of Prienai, Tarybų armijos gatvė). We invite them ourselves, while atheist teachers visit our homes uninvited, and there try to carry on agitation against our religious convictions, and for this they are neither punished nor terrorized.
Is this compatible with the equality of believers and unbelievers before the law, which our Constitution proclaims?
What law forbids us to invite a priest (as a full-fledged citizen of the USSR) into our homes? We wish to live in homes which would be blessed annually by the priests in keeping with our Catholic traditions. Surely, this modest wish of ours cannot pose a threat to the Soviet order?
Please arrange that the government organs of the Rayon of Prienai would cease terrorizing our priests and would not prevent them from visiting our apartments.
Signed by 1670 believers
P a š i l ė (Kelmė Rayon)
On April 13, 1986, after the principal Mass, the faithful of Pašilė, adults and children, greeted their pastor, Father Stanislovas Anužis, on the occasion of his name day. A show by the children ended with the choristers' singing, Ilgiausių metų ( Long life!) ... This did not please chairman Antanas Pakutinskis, the Chairman of the church committee, supported by the government. In every way he could, he berated the choristers, children and church security guard Antanas Saunoris.
On April 14, Pakutinskis informed the Rayon Executive Committee about the celebration for the priest. Back from the rayon, he threatened to report church guard Saunoris for "crime", called him a state criminal, etc.
I n d ū r a (Gardinas Region)
The Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs of the Region of Gardinas demanded of Father Kazimieras Žilys that he not read the lesson during Masses for the dead from the letter to the Philippians beginning with the words, "Our homeland is in heaven..." (Phil 3,20).
In the opinion of the Commissioner of Gardinas, that is an anti-Soviet statement. In his words, "If our homeland is in heaven, that means that the Soviet Union is no longer the true homeland of the faithful."
That same Commissioner criticized Father ŽiIys for not giving absolution to persons living together without the Sacrament of Matrimony. Allegedly, that would be a kind of punishment applied to believers while the Regulations for Religious Associations do not allow priests to assign punishments to believers.