On October 8, 1986, the bishops of Lithuania, the administrators of dioceses as well as the rector of the seminary were summoned to the office of the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis, in Vilnius. After starting with his accustomed scolding of the bishops for not bringing "extremists" to heel, the Commissioner presented the bishops with three drafts written allegedly by some priests or other (if so, it was obviously not without the government's knowledge), of a joint declaration by the bishops of Lithuania supporting the political line of Moscow on questions of peace and disarmament. Anilionis repeatedly demanded that the bishops sign one of the three documents.
Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of Kaišiadorys expressed surprise that the worst possible timing had been chosen for such a wish on the part of the government. "A couple of days ago, on September 30, in an editorial from Pravda reprinted in Tiesa, the faithful and we bishops were called representatives of 'views untruthful from beginning to end.' Why then were the signatures of liars needed? Unless it was to trample our authority in the eyes of the public... in your editorial, you urged people to fight us with all means at their disposal while we are being forced to sacrifice our authority on your account," said Bishop Sladkevičius.
"What do you understand by 'all means'?" the Commissioner asked.
"The propaganda apparatus, the KGB..." the bishop explained.
"You are libeling us! For that, you can be taken to court! Where in the editorial is the term KGB?" Anilionis shouted, pulling out a newspaper. 'If you don't want to, don't sign, others will sign..." he heatedly scolded the bishop for speaking in the name of all.
"The whole world knows that the USSR is an atheistic state out to destroy religion. You are suggesting that we sign a document in which it says 'We wholeheartedly concur with the the leaders of the Soviet government...' What's the use of that? Enough pain is caused by those who grant unthinking interviews abroad," said Bishop Antanas Vaičius of Telšiai.
'Why do we have to sign here, and not at home after due consideration of what we are signing?" Bishop Sladkevičius interjected.
"Give us the drafts, we'll think it over ourselves," Bishop Vaičius addressed the Commissioner.
The Commissioner for Religious Affairs would not go along with that, saying 'If I give them to you, you'll pass them on to the extremists who will write in whatever they wish!"
Anilionis was also displeased with Bishop Sladkevičius' statement, 'Some things in the declaration we will delete, and some things we will add, for example, that more freedom be granted to believers..."
'What kind of freedom do you still lack," the Commissioner fumed.
Archbishop Povilonis explained to him that it is forbidden to catechize children and priests are penalized. The other bishops concurred.
Finally, Anilonis gave in, allowing the bishops themselves to prepare the document. The bishops signed the document they had edited themselves.
During the reception, the Commissioner unexpectedly suggested that as a "favor", the newspaper Gimtasis kraštas (Native Land), should print certain news items from the life of Catholics in Lithuania. For that, a priest would have to be appointed by the ordinaries who would work with the editors of the newspaper. Despite the fact that it made the Commissioner very unhappy, the bishops nevertheless refused the proffered favor.
Nevertheless, Gimtasis kraštas has begun to publish news of the life of Catholics in Lithuania. Optimistic rumors were even heard in the West: 'Perhaps Tiesa will also begin publishing such news?"
However, the very first news items were already full of misinformation... Mentioned was the participation of the bishops Antanas Vaičius and Juozas Preikšas in the religious festiva Šiluva.
Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius
Nothing was said of Bishops Julijonas Steponavičius and Vincentas Sladkevičius; also omitted was the fact that Bishop Antanas Vaičius had participated two whole days in the "Calvaries". It was made up of whole cloth that on October 8, a Peace Petition had been signed at the seminary.
Quoted later in the aforesaid article is the text, not of the document edited by the ordinaries, but the words of Commissioner Anilionis' proposed draft for a peace petition...
To: Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary
of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
From: The Priests of the Archdiocese of Vilnius of the Catholic Church in Lithuania
In 1987, the faithful of Lithuania will celebrate the 600-year jubilee of Lithuania's baptism. After 600 years, Christian doctrine has taken deep root in our people. The Constitution of the USSR, as well as that of the Lithuanian SSR guarantees citizens freedom of conscience. Often, however, the exaggerated zeal of certain government officials in spreading atheistic ideology reduces those Constitution guarantees to nothing.
1. The Apostolic Administrator of Vilnius, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, has for more than twenty-five years been removed from his duties as administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, for no crime and without trial, has been detained in Žagarė, far from his archdiocese. We request that Bishop Steponavičius be allowed to perform his duties.
2. The Cathedral of Vilnius is the cradle of Catholic Lithuania, but this shrine has been taken away from the faithful. Saint Casimir is the Patron of Lithuania, but the church named for him has been converted into a Museum of Atheism. The Church of Mary, Queen of Peace in Klaipėda, erected with the donations of the faithful, has been taken away from them and turned into a concert hall, while in the meantime the faithful are forced to suffocate in a tiny church. In Klaipėda at present, over 175,000 residents live, of whom the great part are believers, Catholics. We request that the confiscated churches be returned and that churches be allowed to be erected in the Cities of Naujoji Akmenė, Elektrėnai, Sneičkus and in the of Vilnius and other large cities.
3. The Code of Canon Law, (Canon 528, 1) obliges the pastors of parishes to teach religious truths to the children of believing parents. For the carrying out of this essential priestly duty, priests are penalized by fines, warnings and, in the not too distant past, even by deprivation of freedom. We ask that the Regulations for Religious Associations be amended so as not to clash with duties imposed on priests by Church law and priestly functions.
4. There are still not infrequent instances where the faithful, especially job-holders, and also children and youth being educated atheistically, are terrorized by threats, ridicule and otherwise. Religious children are forced to join atheistic organizations. We request that such transgressions not be tolerated, and that the faithful, especially children, not be terroroized for the public and zealous practice of religion.
5. In the Constitution, the principle of the separation of the state from the Church and the Church from the state is proclaimed. Government officials, however, interfere in what is purely a canonical activity of the Church: The organizing of diocesan priests' councils, the appointment of priests to various duties, the assignment of new bishops, even the choice of a vocation — blocking some young men from enrolling in the seminary. We request that the civil government not interfere in clergy appointments or church duties, that they would not interfere with suitable candidates to the priesthood to prepare in one way or another, and to be priests.
6. The Constitution guarantees equality of all citizens. That is beautiful! The atheists spread atheistic ideology by press, radio and television, often explaining in a distorted way the truths of religion and even calumniating Church representatives. Believers, meanwhile, have no access to these means of communication, even when they would like to justify themselves and to defend themselves from unfounded accusations. We request that the faithful be accorded the same freedom of speech, press and dissemination of religion as the atheists make use of in Lithuania.
7. When priests and laity make public these injustices perpetrated on the faithful and the evils occurring in our life, they are accused of calumniating the Soviet system, and for that they are punished. Yes, for example, according to the Soviet press, Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius were tried and sentenced. You see, they presented the facts of the spread of drunkenness in our society. We ask that the cases of priests and laity sentenced be reviewed, and that they be released.
We ask you, Mr. General Secretary, as the head of state, to abolish these anti-Constitutional wrongs, and to redress the injustices being done to the faithful.
June 13,1986, Vilnius
Signed by the following priests, Fathers:
1. Antanas Andriuškevičius, 2. Vaclovas Aliulis, 3. Josifas Aškelovičius, 4. Romualdas Blažys, 5. Jonas Boruta, 6. Aldas Antanas Čeponis, 7. Metardas Čeponis, 8. Vladas Černiauskas, 9. Petras Daunoras, 10. Antanas Dziekan, 11. Kazimieras Gailius, 12. Konstantinas Gajauskas, 13. Stasys Idzelis, 14. Ignas Jakutis, 15. Pijus Jakutis, 16. Vytautas Jaskelevičius, 17. Bronislovas Jaura, 18. Nikodemas Jaura, 19. Juozas Juodagalvis. 20. Pavelas Jurkovlianec, 21. Jonas Kardelis, 22. Algis Kazlauskas, 23. Algimantas Keina, 24. Juzafas Kvietkovskis, 25. Jonas Lauriūnas, 26. Stasys Lydys, 27. Stasys Markevičius, 28. Kazys Meilius, 29. Konstantinas Molis, 30. H. NaumoviCius, 31. Juzefas Obremskis, 32. Edmundas Paulionis, 33. Mykolas Petravičius, 34. Alfonsas Petronis, 35. Juozas Donatas Puidokas, 36. Stasys Puidokas, 37. Vytautas Pūkas, 38. Petras Purlys. 39. Bronislovas Sakavičius, 40. Justinas Saulius, 41. Leonas Savickas, 42. Marijonas Savickas, 43. Antanas Simonaitis, 44. Martynas Stonys, 45. Jordanas Slėnys, 46. Alfonsas Tamulaitis, 47. Česlovas Taraškevičius, 48. Steponas Tunaitis, 49. Albertas Ulickas, 50. Jonas Vaitonis, 51. Domas Valančiauskas, 52. Antanas Valatka, 53. Kazimieras Valeikis, 54. Stanislovas Valiukėnas, 55. Donatas Valiukonis, 56. Kazimieras Zemėnas.
1. Janas Charukevičius, 2. Jonas Grigaitis, 3. Kazimieras Kulakas, 4. Zenonas Patiejūnas, 5. Kazimieras Pukėnas, 6. Vladislovas Velymanskis.
To: The bishops and administrators of dioceses in Lithuania From: The Priests of the Archdiocese of Vilnius
We, the undersigned priests of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, concerned that the 600-Year Jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania be suitably commemorated, request the bishops and administrators of dioceses in Lithuania:
1.To invite our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II to visit Lithuania in 1987, on the occasion of the Jubilee.
2.To request our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, on the occasion of the 600-Year Jubilee of the baptism of Lithuania, to proclaim the Servant of God, Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis, Blessed; to try to acquaint the faithful more widely with the life, virtues and work of the Servant of God, Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis; to arrange officially for the veneration of Mykolas Giedraitis, who enjoys the title of Blessed; to publicize those other saintly individuals of our nation: Father Andrius Radmina, Father Jurgis Pabrėža, Father Alfonsas Lipniūnas, Archbishop Mečislovas Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius, Professor Stasys Šalkauskis, Prof. Pranas Dovidaitis, Marija Pečkauskaitė, et al.
3.To see that the administration and faculty of the seminary be priests of high ecclesiastical character, and to get rid of those unsuitable; to try to see that candidates to the seminary be carefully chosen, in accord with canonical requirements and the decrees of Vatican II; to pay serious attention to problems which arise, and to expell unsuitable seminarians.
4. To continue the successfully initiated popularization of sobriety: at least once a year to plan temperance days in all dioceses and parishes.
5. To observe strictly the Apostolic See's decree of March 8,1984, regarding the participation of priests in international conferences:
6. To request the government of the Soviet Union:
a. For the exiled Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, to be returned to his duties;
b. Not to obstruct priests from catechizing children,
something Canon Law requires so explicitly (Can.52, par.l);
c. That the faithful, especially the youth and children, not be persecuted, terrorized for open practice of religion, and not be forced to join atheistic organizations;
d. That the Cathedral of Vilnius and the Church in Klaipeda be returned to the faithful, and that construction of churches be allowed in new cities (Naujoji Akmene, Elektrėnai, Sniečkus, Ignalina) and in the suburbs of Vilnius, Kaunas, and other cities;
e. To review the sentences of Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas-Kastytis Matulionis, and of laity sentenced for defending the rights of the Church and of the faithful, and to release them;
f. To grant believers the same freedom of speech, of the press and of belief enjoyed by the atheists in Lithuania;
g. That the civil government not interfere with the preparation of suitable candidates for the priesthood, nor with their priesthood;
h. That the civil government not interfere in the appointment of clergy to ecclesiastical responsibilities.
Vilnius, July 13,1986 Signed by 62 Priests
Signed by the following priests, Fathers:
1. Antanas Andriuškevičius, 2. Vaclovas Aliulis, 3. Josifas Aškelovičius, 4. Romualdas Blažys, 5. Jonas Boruta, 6. Aldas Antanas Čeponis, 7. Metardas Čeponis, 8. Vladas Černiauskas, 9. Petras Daunoras, 10. Antanas Dziekan, 11. Kazimieras
Gailius, 12. Konstantinas Gajauskas, 13. Stasys Idzelis, 14. Ignas Jakutis, 15. Pijus Jakutis, 16. Vytautas Jaskelevičius, 17. Bronislovas Jaura, 18. Nikodemas Jaura, 19. Juozas Juodagalvis.
20. Pavelas Jurkovlianec, 21. Jonas Kardelis, 22. Aleksandras Kaškevičius, 23. Algis Kazlauskas, 24. Algimantas Keina, 25. Tadas Kondrusevičius, 26. Juzafas Kvietkovskis, 27. Jonas Lauriūnas, 28. Stasys Lydys, 29. Stasys Markevičius, 30. Edmundas Minkevičius, 31. Konstantinas Molis, 32. H. Naumovičius, 33. Juzefas Obremskis, 34. Edmundas Paulionis, 35. Ignas Paberžis, 36. Mykolas Petravičius, 37. Alfonsas Petronis, 38. Juozas Donatas Puidokas, 39. Vytautas Pūkas, 40. Petras Purlys, 41. Bronislovas Sakavičius.
42. Justinas Saulius, 43. Leonas Savickas, 44. Marijonas Savickas, 45. Antanas Simonaitis, 46. Martynas Stonys, 47. Jordanas Slėnys, 48. Alfonsas Tamulaitis, 49. Česlovas Taraškevičius 50. Adolfas Trusevičius, 51. Juozas Tunaitis, 52. Steponas Tunaitis 53. Albertas Ulickas, 54. Jonas Stanislovas Ulickas, 55. Jonas Vaitonis, 56. Domas Valančiauskas, 67. Antanas Valatka, 58. Kazimieras Valeikis, 59. Stanislovas Valiukėnas, 60. Donatas Valiukonis, 61. Kazimieras Zemėnas, 62. Stasys Puidokas. Not signing:
1. Janas Charukevičius, 2. Jonas Grigaitis, 3. Kazimieras Kulakas, 4. Zenonas Patiejūnas, 5. Kazimieras Pukėnas, 6. Vladislovas Velymanskis.
To: Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central
Committee, Communist Party of the Soviet Union
From: Priests of the Archdiocese of Kaunas of the Catholic Church in Lithuania
In 1987, the Catholic faithful of Lithuania will commemorate the 600-year jubilee of the introduction of Christianity into Lithuania. During these 600 years, Christian teaching has sunk deep roots in our Lithuania. The USSR Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but the activists of atheism nullify this Constitutional guarantee:
1. The children of believing parents ai e persecuted in school for public church attendance, and they are forcibly enrolled in atheist organizations against the wishes of their believing parents. Those not enrolling are warned that they shall not be able to enroll in college or university. Those who do enroll are forbidden to fulfill religious obligations, forced to dissemble and thus from childhood, are made to act hypocritically. This is a serious mistake on the part of our society.
2.Various employees and teachers are unable publicly to fulfill their obligations as required by their convictions and conscience. Hence, in order to fulfill their religious obligations, they are obliged to travel to distant places where no one knows them, or to marry or baptize children by night lest anyone see them. Teachers who are believers must speak contrary to their own conscience, like atheists, even though Article 50 of the USSR Constitution guarantees freedom of conscience. When someone in a responsible position leaves his wife and children, and remarries, it is considered a personal matter, for which he is not penalized. But if a government employee publicly fulfills his religious obligations, he is demoted.
3.The USSR Constitution guarantees the equality of all citizens before the law. But how is it in real life? The atheists have everything: press, radios, television, while the faithful are prevented from making use of these communications media. After World War II, only a fraction of families of believers were able to obtain prayer-books and catechisms. The atheists are served by all schools, beginning with kindergarten and ending with the universities, while the teaching of catechism to the children of believing parents is forbidden, even in church, and priests are penalized for teaching it. The faithful are not allowed to organize trips, make use of automobiles: it is even forbidden to go by taxi to religious festivals; e.g.: to Siluva or the Calvary of the Lowlanders. In hospitals and nursing homes for the aged, the faithful are not always allowed to summon a priest for the patient before death. It is forbidden to pray at the bier of a believer in funeral establishments, as is customary among Catholics. These are just a few examples.
4.According to USSR Constitution Art. 50, the Church is separated from the state, but in reality it is otherwise: When the bishops or administrators of dioceses appoint or transfer priests from parishes, the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, as the representative of the atheistic government to the detriment of the Church's well-being, has the final say regarding the appointment of priests to parishes or their removal, the choice of candidates for bishop or diocesan administrator, the appointment of instructors to the seminary, the admission of candidates to the seminary and with too few of them allowed to be admitted, there is a great shortage of priests. The Commissioner for Religious Affairs interferes in the internal affairs of the Church: the formation of priests' councils and colleges of consultors; civil government officials interfere even in the services: Why did this priest hold services and not some other? Why prayers were recited for suffering priest-prisoners... they interfere even in families and in the creation of church committees...
5. Christianity was first introduced to Lithuania in Vilnius, so the Cathedral of Vilnius is the cradle of Christianity in Lithuania, and this shrine has been confiscated from the faithful; Saint Casimir is the Patron Saint of Lithuania, but the church named after him in Vilnius has been transformed into a Museum of Atheism. This is an insult to the faithful.
6. The USSR has obligated itself to abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art. 18 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 bis religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."
The USSR has also obligated itself to abide by the Helsinki Accords, Art. 7 of which states: 'Participating states will conscientiously carry out their obligations according to international law of the appropriate agreements and other agreements to which they are a party."
Hence, the abovementioned offenses committed against the faithful are a transgression against international obligations.
7. When priests and faithful make public the wrongs and calumnies committed against them, they are accused of vilifying the Soviet Union and they are brought to trial like Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius, Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis and some Catholic laity who have sentenced for defending the rights of the faithful. We ask you to release them.
We ask you as the leader of the state to do away with the above-mentioned anti-Constitutional evils and others and to repair the wrongs being done to the faithful.
Signed by the following priests, Fathers:
1. Jonas Albavičius, 2. Jonas Aleksiūnas, 3. Jonas Augustauskas, 4. Jonas Babonas, 5. Feliksas Baliūnas, 6. Eugenijus Bartulis, 7. Vytautas Brilius, 8. Viktoras Brusokas, 9. Prosperas Bubnys, 10. Alfonsas Bulotas, 11. Mykolas Buožius, 12. Izidorius Butkus, 13. Juozas Čepėnas, 14. Kęstutis Daknevičius, 15. Antanas Danyla, 16. Juozas Dobilaitis, 17. Gerardas Dunda, 18. Jonas Fabijanskas, 19. Pranciškus Gaižauskas, 20. Bronislovas Gimžauskas, 21. Jonas Girdzevičius, 22. Zigmas Grinevičius. 23. Stanislovas Gruodis, 24. Vytautas Griganavičius, 25. Gustavas Gudanavičius, 26. Antanas Ylius, 27. Antanas Imbras, 28. Juozas Indriūnas, 29. Leonardas Jagminas, 30. Leonas Jakubauskas, 31. Antanas Jokubauskas, 32. Gintautas Jankauskas, 33. Antanas Jurgutis, 34. Stanislovas Kadys, 35. Juozas Kaknevičius, 36. Leonas Kalinauskas, 37. Jonas Kazlauskas, 38. Algirdas Kildušis, 39. Petras Liubonas, 40. Vladas Luzgauskas, 41. Romualdas Macevičius, 42. Eimutis Marcinkevičius, 43. Petras Martinkus, 44. Pranciškus Matulaitis. 45. Kleopas Jakaitis, 46. Aleksandras Markaitis, 47. Juozapas Matulevičius, 48. Petras Meilus, 49. Ričardas Mikutavičius, 50. Petras Mikutis, 51. Aleksandras Milašius, 52. Romualdas Mizaras, 53. Algirdas Močius, 54. Petras Našlėnas, 55. Bronislovas Nemeikšis, 56. Pesliakas, 57. Vladas Petkevičius, 58. Steponas Pilka, 59. Petras Petraitis, 60. Vaclovas Polikaitis, 61. Jonas Povilaitis, 62. Vladas Požėla, 63. Povilas Pranskūnas, 64. Boleslovas Radavičius, 65. Vytautas Radzevičius, 66. Vaclovas Ramanauskas. 67. Aleksandras Ramanauskas, 68. Juozapas Razmantas, 69. Liudvikas Semaška, 70. Eduardas Simaška, 71. Antanas Slavinskas, 72. Boleslovas Stasiutis, 73. Kazimieras Statkevičius, 74. Jonas Survila, 75. Viktoras Šauklys, 76. Pranciškus Ščepavičius, 77. Jonas Tamonis, 78. Vaclovas Tamoševičius, 79. Petras Tavoraitis, 80. Jurgis Užusienis, 81. Juozapas Vaičeliūnas, 82. Alfredas Vanagas, 83. Boleslovas Vairą, 84. Juozapas Varvuolis, 85. Jonas Voveris, 86. Lionginas Vaičiulionis, 87. Jonas Račaitis, 88. Pijus Žiugžda. To: The Bishops and Apostolic Administrators of Lithuania From: Priests of the Archdiocese of Kaunas
We undersigned priests of the Archdiocese of Kaunas, concerned that the 600-year jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania be properly commemorated request the bishops and diocesan administrators of Lithuania:
1. To invite our Holy Father, John Paul II, to visit
Lithuania in 1987 for the solemnities.
2. To request our Holy Father, John Paul II, on the occasion of the 600th Anniversary of the Baptism of Lithuania, to proclaim the venerable Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis Blessed; to see during the preparatory period that the believing public become more widely acquainted with the life, virtues and work of Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis; also to publicize the veneration of Mykolas Giedraitis, bearing the title of Blessed. We ask that the faithful be introduced also to the other spiritual greats of our nation: Father A. Rudamina, Father Jurgis Pabrėža, Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys, Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis, Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius, Father Alfonsas Lipniūnas, Professor Stasys Šalkauskis, Professor P. Dovidaitis, Barbora Žagarietė, writer Marija PeCkauskaitė.
3. That the civil government not interfere in the affairs of the seminary of Kaunas, especially in appointing the administration, the instructors and even choosing students for the seminary. In the existing abnormal circumstances, there are many cases in which students finish the seminary and are ordained to the priesthood, not only disinclined to care for the needs of the faithful, but themselves unwilling to live a spiritual life. This is not only painful, but also detrimental to the Church. It is regrettable that even mentally ill individuals are ordained. Canon Law and the Decrees of Vatican II call for a very careful screening of candidates: "In all selection and testing of seminarians, necessary standards must always be firmly maintained, even when there exists a regrettable shortage of priests. For God will not allow His Church to lack ministers if worthy candidates are admitted, while unsuited ones are... directed toward the assuming of other tasks..." (The Decree on Priestly Formation, Chapter III, Number 6).
The plight of the Church is very difficult when the civil government meddles in the affairs of the Church: assignment of priests to parishes, choice of bishops and diocesan administrators and even in the makeup of priests' senates and colleges of consul-tors.
4. To continue the auspiciously begun work of temperence: at least once annually to arrange temperence days in all parishes and dioceses. To strive not only for sobriety, but even for abstinence among clergy and laity.
5. For clergy not to participate in activités forbidden by our Holy Father Pope John Paul II.
6. That the bishops and diocesan administrators of Lithuania request the government of the Soviet Union:
a. To return to his duties the exiled apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, His Excellency Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius;
b. To review the sentencing of Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas Matulionis, as well as lay faithful, for defending the rights of the Church and the faithful and to release them;
c. To allow priests to catechize children as Christ and Canon Law oblige them;
d. To refrain from persecuting and terrorizing the faithful and especially children and youth for the public profession of religion, something which Art. 50 of the USSR Constitution guarantees, and not to coerce them to join atheistic organizations; in institutions of learning during the process of educating children and youth not to infringe on the rights of believing parents to rear their children in accordance with their religious beliefs;
e. To grant believers the same right of utilizing media to disseminate their worldview, as that used by the atheists;
f. Not to turn Sundays into workdays and Catholics to be allowed to assist at Mass and for Christmas at least not to be a workday, and the faithful be allowed to celebrate it freely;
g. To return to the faithful the Cathedral of Vilnius, the Church of Saint Casimir, the church in Klaipėda and to allow new churches erected in the new cities: Naujoji Akmenė, Elektrėnai, Snei
also in the suburbs of Vilnius, Kaunas and other large cities. We trust that the 600-year jubilee of the baptism of Lithuania will be celebrated more solemnly than was the 500-year jubilee of the death of Saint Casimir in 1984.
1. Jonas Albavičius, 2. Jonas Aleksiūnas, 3. Jonas Augustauskas, 4. Jonas Babonas, 5. Feliksas Baliūnas, 6. Eugenijus Bartulis, 7. Vytautas Brilius, 8. Viktoras Brusokas, 9. Prosperas Bubnys, 10. Alfonsas Bulotas, 11. Mykolas Buožius, 12. Izidorius Butkus, 13. Juozas Čepėnas, 14. Kęstutis Daknevičius, 15. Kazimieras Dambrauskas, 16. Antanas Danyla, 17. Juozas Dobilaitis, 18. Gerardas Dunda, 19. Jonas Fabijanskas, 20. Pranciškus Gaižauskas, 21. Bronislovas Gimžauskas, 22. Zigmas Grinevičius. 23. Vytautas Griganavičius, 24. Gustavas Gudanavičius, 25. Antanas Ylius, 26. Antanas Imbras, 27. Juozas Indriūnas, 28. Leonardas Jagminas, 29. Kleopas Jakaitis, 30. Antanas Jokubauskas, 31. Jonas Girdzevičius, 32. Eugenijus Jokubauskas, 33. Gintautas Jankauskas, 34. Antanas Jurgutis, 35. Stanislovas Kadys, 36. Juozas Kaknevičius, 37. Leonas Kalinauskas, 38. Jonas Kazlauskas, 39. Algirdas Kildušis, 40. Petras Liubonas, 41. Vladas Luzgauskas, 42. Romualdas Macevičius, 43. Eimutis Marcinkevičius, 44. Petras Martinkus, 45. Pranciškus Matulaitis. 46. Juozapas Matulevičius, 47. Petras Meilus, 48. Ričardas Mikutavičius, 49. Petras Mikutis, 50. Antanas Milašius, 51. Romualdas Mizaras, 52. Algirdas Močius, 53. Petras Našlėnas, 54. Bronislovas Nemeikšis, 55. Kazimieras Pesliakas, 56. Vladas Petkevičius, 57. Petras Petraitis, 58. Steponas Pilka, 59. Aleksandras Počiulpis, 60. Vaclovas Polikaitis, 61. Jonas Povilaitis, 62. Vladas Požėla, 63. Povilas Pranskūnas, 64. Jonas Račaitis, 65. Vytautas Radzevičius, 66. Boleslovas Radavičius. 67. Jonas Rakauskas, 68. Vaclovas Ramanauskas, 69. Juozapas Razmantas, 70. Liudvikas Semaška, 71. Eduardas Simaška, 72. Antanas Slavinskas, 73. Boleslovas Stasiutis, 74. Kazimieras Statkevičius, 75. Jonas Survila, 76. Viktoras Šauklys, 77. Pranciškus Ščepavičius, 78. Jonas Tamonis, 79. Vaclovas Tamoševičius, 80. Petras Tavoraitis, 81. Jurgis Užusienis, 82. Juozapas Vaičeliūnas, 83. Boleslovas Vairą, 84. Alfredas Vanagas, 85. Pijus Žiugžda, 86. Juozapas Varvuolis, 87. Jonas Voveris, 88. Lionginas Vaičiulionis. To: Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR Konstantin Kharchev, Chairman of the Council for Religious Affairs LSSR Council of Ministers ; From: The Catholics of Klaipėda and All Lithuania
We, the Catholics of the City of Klaipeda and all Lithuania, erected with our own funds in 1961 the Church of the Queen of Peace in Klaipėda, a 200 sq. meter dwelling, and three garages. That same year, even before it was put to use, by order of Nikita Krushchev, the church and all its structures was taken away from us and turned into a concert hall. We have been wronged because we never have committed any crime. We built the church with government permission. Now, we have nowhere to pray. The little church we have is 12 meters wide and 22 meters long — 48 sq. meters are occupied by the presbytery, leaving 216 sq. meters for the faithful. We do not fit: some individuals faint from the stuffiness in church, others are
The Klaipėda church after conversion to a concert hall.
forced in the heat, cold and rain to stand outside, to kneel on snowy, dirty sidewalks and the powerful ventilators installed are very noisy. The windows are open the winter and summer, and people often become ill from the cross draft.
In 1939, about 60,000 residents lived in Klaipeda, and five churches served them. When the church was being erected in 1961, about 80,000 people lived there, and now, there are 200,000 living there. In 1961, with the closing of the churches in Nida, Juodkrantė and Klaipeda, there were about 130,000 Catholics in the surrounding areas.
To date, the following have been approached concerning the return of the Church of the Queen of Peace in Klaipeda:
1.In 1974, a petition was sent with over 3,000 signatures, to Chairman Kuroyedov.
2.In March, 1979 — a declaration to Leonid Brezhnev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and to Kuroyedov, with 10,241 signatures.
3.In October, 1979 — a petition to Leonid Brezhnev and Kuroyedov with 148,149 signatures.
4. In 1980, a petition to Brezhnev and Kuroyedov with 600 signatures.
5. In June, 1981, a delegation of three individuals called on the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Council for Religious Affairs.
6. In 1981, for the second time, a ten-person delegation visited the Council for Religious Affairs.
7. In 1982, a petition was sent to Leonid Brezhnev and Kuroyedov with 21,033 signatures.
8. In 1982, a petition was sent to Leonid Brezhnev.
9. In 1982, for the third time, a delegation often persons visited the Council for Religious Affairs in Moscow.
10. In 1983, a petition was sent to Andropov and Kuroyedov with 22,539 signatures.
11.In 1983, a fourth time a ten-person delegation visited the Council for Religious Affairs in Moscow.
12.In 1984, a petition was sent to Konstantin Chernenko and to Kuroyedov with 11,202 signatures.
13.In 1984, for the fifth time, a four-person delegation visited the Council for Religious Affairs in Moscow.
14.In 1984, for the sixth time, a three-person delegation visited the Council for Religious Affairs in Moscow.
15.In January, 1985, for the seventh time, a delegation of three persons visited the Council for Religious Affairs in Moscow.
16.In May 1985, for the eighth time, a four-person delegation visited Moscow.
17. In May, 1985, war veterans and participants sent petitions to Gorbachev and the Council for Religious Affairs.
18.In 1985, the faithful of Klaipeda sent Mikhail Gorbachev a petition with 1,135 signatures.
19.In 1986, petitions were sent to the Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers and to the Council for Religious Affairs, with 10,501 signatures.
20.In 1986, for the ninth time, a delegation of the faithful visited the Council for Religious Affairs in Moscow.
For several years now, it has been suggested that the present little church be reconstructed and enlarged by a few hundred meters. We do not agree with such a suggestion for we could be left without any church. Such remodelling takes very long: they have been remodelling the theater in Klaipeda for the sixth year, the teachers' home for about ten years, etc. Once again we repeat we will not agree to remodelling the little church. People from all continents sailing in and seeing our situation and the wrong committed against us are surprised at such action on the part of the government.
On the occasion of the 600-year jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania, we request that you redress the wrong done us — to return the church we built for ourselves or to put up another just like it. Living conditions force us to do so.
This petition was signed by:
Archdiocese of Vilnius - 507 believers Archdiocese of Kaunas - 2313 believers Diocese of Panevėžys - 6600 believers Diocese of Telšiai - 1259 believers Diocese of Kaišiadorys - 2242 believers Diocese of Vilkaviškis - 7706 believers
To: Petras Griškevičius, First Secretary of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party, LSSR Copy to: The Editor of Soviet Woman magazine
In the USSR and LSSR Constitutions, the equality of all citizens before the law is emphasized, and we are reminded that it is forbidden to incite hatred in connection with religious cults.
We are firmly convinced that the editors of Tarybinė Moteris (Soviet Woman) transgressed against the principles of the Soviet Constitution by publishing in issues number two and three, 1986, Vladas Balkevičius' article, "The Holy Family", which was full of the most horrendous calumnies against the persons of Jesus and Mary, dear to believers. The author of the article knows well that the calumnies he repeats have long ago been answered, but he repeats them nevertheless. The conclusion keeps suggesting itself that the author's only purpose was to ridicule the Christian religion and to insult and demean the faithful. How would the Communists react if the same sort of calumnies against persons dear to them, Party activists, were to appear in the Catholic press or priests' sermons. The Communists would feel insulted and demeaned. Such behavior would incite hatred between faithful and atheists.
This is how dishonorably V. Balkevičius and the editors of Soviet Woman acted. We demand that the editors of Soviet Woman and Vladas Balkevičius publicly retract the calumnies against the persons of Jesus and Mary dear to us. We request you, First Secretary, to see that atheist articles of such a nature would never appear again.
Archdiocese of Vilnius - 486 believers Archdiocese of Kaunas - 2313 believers Diocese of Panevėžys - 6600 believers Diocese of Telšiai - 1259 believers Diocese of Vilkaviškis - 5720 believers Diocese of Kaišiadorys - 2301 believers
To: The Chairman of the Presidium of the LSSR Supreme Soviet From: Fathei Alfonsas Pridotkas
Resident of Žarėnai, Telšiai Rayon
The pope of the Roman Catholic Church appointed Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius. The commissioner of religious cults deposed the bishop from office and exiled him to Žagarė in the Rayon of Joniškis. From the Archdiocese of Vilnius, which belongs to him, he was exiled to a different diocese, and a different parish. This was done twenty-five years ago. After the passage of twenty-five years from the beginning of his exile, this fact has been of interest to many residents of Lithuania. The following questions arise:
1. Can the Commissioner for Religious Cults transfer or
exile a bishop from his diocese to another?
2. Who gave the commissioner such a power, and when?
3. What is the longest period for which the Commissioner for Religious Cult can exile a bishop to a diocese not his own?
I would be very grateful if you answered these questions for me.
It is surprising that Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius has already spent twenty-five years in exile, but the exile still goes on. It has occurred to me to inquire of legal specialists whether Bishop Steponavičius had been treated according to applicable public law promulgated and known to all, or perhaps someone went too far, perhaps they exceeded their mandate. On this matter, I inquired with the Juridical Consultancy of the College of Attorneys and asked them to answer these few questions:
1.How long a sentence can the Peoples' Court give? It replied, "Fifteen years."
2.For what kind of transgressions? 'For betrayal of the homeland (Par. 62), for spying (Par. 63), for aggravated homicide (Par. 104), for larceny on an especially large scale (Par. 5)."
3. What is the longest period of exile for which the Peoples' Court can sentence one? 'From two to five years."
4. For what kind of crimes? 'For crimes touched upon by Articles 62, 63 and 96."
5. Besides the Peoples' Court, can someone else hand down a sentence to exile so that a citizen could live only in a special place? 'They cannot."
6. Can any agency or government official exile a citizen without a decision of the Peoples' Court? "They cannot."
7. Can the Commissioner for Religious Cults exile a priest or bishop from his residence to some other rayon, to another dwelling place, without the decision of the Peoples' Court? "They cannot penalize them thus as an official of cult, there is no such law."
8. It would seem that someone is being arbitrary. "So it would seem!"
What kind of thoughts arise? Traitors, spies or murderers can be punished by exile only by decision of the Peoples' Court, and that, for no longer than five years? The bishop has remained in exile for twenty-five years already, and there is no end in sight. It would be interesting how that could be compared with the Criminal Code. The bishop is not a traitor to his country, was never a spy, has committed no theft, but with regard to the length of his exile, he is worse off then they. The penalty imposed on the bishop (according to his exile) has exceeded the limits of the sentences of the worst criminals by 500%.
The greatest criminals have the right to legal defense. They can apply to attorneys to defend them, call witnesses for the defense, present proofs of innocence and take advantage of promulgated law. They know what sentence could be applied to them, and once sentenced they know when their time will end. In a trial, the judge hands down a decision in consultation with associate judges after hearing arguments by prosecution and defense; with Bishop Steponavičius however, something strange occurred. Even to a legal specialist, it would seem that there was something like arbitrariness here, that the Criminal Code contains no paragraphs on the basis of which they could exile the bishop from his diocese for over twenty-five years. In my opinion, that is arbitrariness: someone is exceeding promulgated law. How does all this seem to you?
Was Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius treated justly? If you think otherwise, I would ask you to say so. If you find any truth in my statement, I sincerely ask you to do everything possible to see that Bishop Steponavičius' exile be terminated, that he be allowed to return to Vilnius and there perform the functions to which he was assigned by the Holy Father.
Help to defend him so that on April 18,1986, celebrating the very special Diamond Jubilee of his life (his seventy-fifth birthday), he would feel your good will and at least, on the eve of his jubilee, he would receive from you the news that his exile had been terminated.
Joniškio Rayon 235467, Žagarė Zdanovo 5-2
I would be grateful to receive the reply to this petition. Žarėnai, October 1,1986
This year the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis, has been visiting the seminary in Kaunas quite frequently. Speaking to first-year seminarians at the beginning of the scholastic year, the Commissioner urged them to maintain unity, not to form factions and not to try finding out which seminarians have agreed to cooperate with the KGB. Such factionalism, in the words of Anilionis, is detrimental to Church and state. According to him, such factionalism inspired by "extremists" is a source of scandal to Lithuanians in the U.S.A. and their publication Akiračiai (Horizons).
During the summer of 1986, the priests of the Archdiocese of Vilnius sent a letter to Mikhail Gorbachev, supreme leader of the U.S.S.R., in which they set forth certain problems and submitted some requests. The communication was sent with the address of the pastor of Linkmenys, Father Jonas Lauriūnas.
On October 17, Commissioner Petras Anilionis of the Council for Religious Affairs visited Father Lauriūnas, and conveyed to him verbally the Soviet government's reply to the aforementioned communication from the priests.
On November 4, twenty priests who had signed the document from the clergy were summoned to the Vilnius chancery. They were given a verbal response. The main points of the reply are as follows: Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius would not go to Vilnius, since he was assigned to Kaišiadorys where he refused to go, and besides, he is not inclined to obey government law.
The Cathedral of Vilnius, moreover, will not be returned to the faithful: If there is to be a bishop in Vilnius, he will be able to call any church his cathedral.
The Church of Saint Casimir will not be returned. Believers can call any church they have by Saint Casimir's name.
It is not necessary to increase the number of churches in Vilnius because those existing suffice (eleven churches), which are usually not full on Sundays. (This is not so! The churches are full of the faithful!)
It does not make sense to erect churches in the new suburbs: people can travel to church by bus just as they travel to work (But the government tries to see that clubs, kindergartens, stores and cinemas be as convenient as possible, and the church should be no exception — Ed. Note.)
It is unnecessary to erect churches in the new cities such as Elektrėnai, Naujoji Akmenė, etc. The faithful of these cities can avail themselves of neighboring parish churches.
The faithful of Klaipėda shall not get back the nationalized church of the Queen of Peace. Those to blame for this are clergy who, in erecting the church, were guilty of abuses. Permission is given to enlarge the present church of Klaipėda. Instead of 300 sq. meters, it should be 800 sq. meters; then it would fully satisfy the needs of the faithful.
Group instruction of children is forbidden, since such a law has been promulgated.
The children of believers in our country are not victims of discrimination: They can, without any trouble, get into higher learning and take responsible posts. The Commissioner mentioned a few examples of the parish of Linkmenys and the Rayon of Ignalina; only he did not say whether those people currently can go to church publicly without interference.
The state does not interfere in the internal affairs of the Church, it only maintains order: the Priests' Council of Vilnius, ac~ cording to Petras Anilionis, was constituted not in accordance with Canon Law, so the government was obliged to become involved. Some priests are not keeping state law, so they also cannot be registered for work in this or that parish; some candidates for the priesthood carry political stains — how can such men be admitted to the seminary.
There shall be no amnesty for Father Alfonsas Svarinskas or Father Sigitas Tamkevičius.
There are no plans to allow believers to publish a newspaper. Sermons are sufficient.
It is the Commissioner's belief that communications from priests are being written, not in order to gain anything, but to cause as much disturbance as possible. Such thinking can arise only in the minds of the atheists, among them, Petras Anilionis.
Of what use is "disturbance" to priests and faithful? The only useful thing would be freedom! Why is it that the one committing the injustice is doing all the complaining? For the sake of a disturbance or in order to stop being wronged? In the days of the Czar, the Lithuanians did not have a Chronicle, but they used to write complaints to the government concerning the unjust press ban; they used to write in order to regain freedom of the press. Does the one being wronged no longer have the right to cry out, and does Soviet law forbid the faithful, Soviet citizens, to apply to their own government with petitions?
The talk given by our Holy Father, John Paul II, to worshippers gathered in Rome, in the course of which the festival of Mary, the Mother of God was going on at Šiluva, was publicized to the faithful world-wide, evoking a deep response in the hearts of the faithful of Lithuania. Great crowds of the faithful from thoughout Lithuania converged on the shrine in Šiluva to celebrate the eight-day festival of the Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary — Šilinės. However, the occasion this year did not pass without interference by the government. Purveyors of religious objects and those collecting signatures defending the interests of the faithful of Lithuania were picked up. The last day of the festival, buses from the bus terminal in Raseiniai and a taxi cruised, avoiding Šiluva. Among the faithful, people showed up who undertook to walk from Raseiniai to Šiluva. Along the way, the worshippers prayed the rosary for priest-prisoners and other prisoners of conscience.
Invited to give the sermons during the festival was the pastor of Eržvilkas-Paupis, Father Petras Meilus. Everything was cleared with the rayon government. About ten days before the festival, the Office of Religious Affairs announced that Father Meilus would not be allowed to deliver the sermons at Šiluva. Msgr. V. Grauslys was ordered to draw up a list of priests from the nearest neighboring parishes. The situation was eased by the bishops who came to the festival, and who, without special permission of Petras Anilionis, delivered the sermons during the principal Mass: On Wednesday — priests' and temperence day — Antanas Vaičius, Bishop of Telšiai spoke, bringing out the beauty and power of faith and its importance in the life of the nation.
On Saturday, September 13, the traditional day dedicated to devotees of Mary, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius celebrated the principal Mass and preached. In his sermon, the bishop presented arguments against the article published in Soviet Woman magazine, insulting the Blessed Virgin Mary and the feelings of the faithful, and urged everyone to pray in atonement.
On Sunday, Bishop Juozas Preikšas offered the principal Mass and preached, reminding worshippers of the special blessing bestowed by the Holy Father on the faithful praying at the religious festival of Šiluva. On Monday, Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius spoke to the faithful.
Throughout the eight days of the festival, there were especially many people in church. Approximately 50,000 communions were distributed.
After the notorius swine fever, processions of worshippers from Tytuvėnai to Šiluva were strictly forbidden by the atheists. However, believing youth, zealous priests and worshippers joining in this beautiful initiative exchanged the procession for another form of prayer — penance. For several years now, the faithful praying the rosary together have been going around the church on their knees along the churchyard pavement. This year, urged by our Holy Father, John Paul II to participate actively in the festival of Šiluva, the faithful of Lithuania decided on nocturnal adoration in the church of Šiluva the night of September 13-14, and early in the morning with the rosary prayers on their lips, to go around the Šiluva church praying for the blessing of Mary, the Mother of God, for the nation and for the entire world. Several hundred of the faithful, most of them youth, participated in the procession of atonement.
On September 10,1986, on the way back from the festival of Šiluva, the pastor of the parish of Užuguostis, Father Jonas Katulis, stopped by the Raseiniai Farmers' Market. In taking out his wallet, he accidentally pulled out a handful of religious cards. Seeing them, an official in civilian garb introduced himself to the priest and asked him to stop by the militia station to check what he was carrying in his suitcase. Only when he realized that he had accosted a priest, the chekist relented.
On June 8,1986, in the church of Rozalimas, the religious feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was being celebrated. The church of Rozalimas has been considered a holy place by the faithful from of old, famous for its miraculous statue of Jesus of Nazareth. Crowds of worshippers usually throng to this festival. The pastor of the parish, Father Anicetas Kisielius, invited the pastor of Šeduva, Canon Bronius Antonaitis, to preach the sermon.
With about a week remaining before the festivals, officials of the rayon inquired of the chairman of the parish committee which of the priests would be delivering sermons during the festival. The chairman explained that Canon Antonaitis had been invited. Right before the festival, the Rayon Executive Committee Vice Chairwoman informed the pastor, Father Kisielius, by phone that the rayon government, in consultation with Vilnius, forbade Canon Antonaitis to deliver the sermon in the church of Rozalimas. "Let Canon Antonaitis pull in his little wings! Let him change his lifestyle! Let him renounce extremist views...," the Vice Chairwoman fumed.
On September 13,1986, the administrative Commission of the Executive Committee of the Vilkaviškis Rayon, consisting of J. Urbonas, Vice Chairman B. Butkevičius, Secretary G. Gudžinskienė, members S. Kaspa G. Pabrinkiene and A. Krieveniene fined Father Gvidonas Dovidaitis, Pastor of the parish of Pilviškiai, 25 rubles for organizing a trip to Karaliaučiai. Refusing to accept this verdict, Father Dovidaitis, on September 20 sent an open letter to rayon committee Vice Chairman Urbonas, and all members of the administrative committee.
"...During the French Revolution when crucifixes were banned from the schools, the mayor of one city expressed regrets over it. Immediately, he received a letter from the president dismissing him from his duties. The man dismissed sent the president a letter in which he wrote 'I am going to hang your order for my dismissal on the wall. It will be my diploma of honor which will tell our children that obeying one's conscience is the most sacred thing in life.' To the same end and urged on by the same feelings, I am writing this letter.
"The letter which you sent me does not dishonor me as a priest. On the contrary, it is like a citation of honor.
"You and your colleagues who took part in my punishment may be at peace with your consciences because you behaved according to law. It is not long ago that citizens of Jewish ethnicity and some other countries were not allowed to use the sidewalks. They had to walk out in the road like animals. All that was done in keeping with the law. Those same Jews were shot, and that was done also in keeping with the law. During the German occupation, my former professor, the Rev. Canon Dr. J. Stakauskas, while director of the Vilnius State Archives, saved eighteen Jews from death. According to the law, he was liable to death, but he obeyed his conscience and not the laws posted on every lamppost. During the terrible war years, he remained a man unafraid of anything when many promulgators of the law and executors of the law became beasts. He was involved in rescuing people at the very time when others, based on the law, gladly shot thousands.
"How history and mankind judged those laws and their executors we know today.
"Laws are not permanent, they change because those who promulgate them change. Those who in defending the law forget to be human are to be pitied.
"It is too bad and shameful when a person loves only himself, only his own comfort and convenience, but it is worse and more shameful when a person loves that which is not worth loving, when a person fears that which must not be feared and which degrades a person; when a person chooses for his gods those things which serve to degrade and shame him.
"Every one of us regrets much in our life; no one has ever or will ever regret what good he did..."
Father Gvidonas Dovidaitis writes in his letter that during the session of the Administrative Commission he was not even allowed to explain himself: "When I asked them to define the terms, for example, 'What is an excursion?', not one of the five women was able to answer. Instead of explaining, they shouted, 'Don't interrupt!' and on this note the session ended."
The letter indicates that in the warrant, the date of the excursion is incorrect, as are the places visited. The directors of serious offices should investigate matters more seriously, otherwise, they can just become objects of ridicule. Such "information" shows up in warrants because there is too much dependence on hearsay or conjecture, and this does not befit serious agencies.
'So we learn from history and mistakes. Let us be students," Father Gvidonas Dovidaitis ends his open letter.
On March 11,1986, Rimantas Bilotas, Executor of the Širvintai Rayon Court and Mrs. Janina Cetrauskienė, Director of the District Draft Board, came to the rectory of the parish in Kiaukliai. They demanded that the pastor, Father Rokas Puzonas, pay a 50 ruble fine for a procession of the faithful which took place on All Souls' Day last year. When Father Puzonas stated that such fines are illegal, and that he considered them as discrimination against the faithful, the officials in the presence of witnesses Algimantas Danilevičius and Arūnas Naina, picked from the priest's personal library approximately seventeen books worth 50 rubles and drew up a lien. The pastor refused to sign the lien.
On June 3, 1986, Teofilė Gaidamavičienė, mother of Father Pranas Gaida, Editor of Tėviškes Žiburiai, was interred in the cemetery of Kiaukliai. The deceased had attained ninety-four years of age, ten of which she had spent, together with other members of the family, in Igarka, in Siberian exile. Holy Mass for the soul of the deceased was celebrated by by the pastor, Father Rokas Puzonas, together with priests from the neighboring parishes: Father Jonas Tomkus, pastor of Želva and Father Antanas Arminas, pastor of Pusnė. During the homily, the difficult and sensitive role of the Lithuanian mother was described. People went to communion in great numbers, and all three priests accompanied the remains to the cemetery. Here, Marija, Marija and Lietuva brangi were sung.
Immediately after the funeral, Chairman Vladas Karaliūnas of the Živuliai District; Aldona Kalinina, a teacher in the Middle School and Communal Farm Party organizer Juozas Sabakuonis showed up at the Kiaukliai parish rectory and filled out a complaint in which it was indicated that Father Puzonas, during the funeral of the deceased, Mrs. Gaidamavičienė, organized a procession to the cemetery, thus transgressing against Art. 214 of the Code of LSSR Administrative Law. The pastor refused to sign the document, explaining that it is the duty of a priest to accompany the deceased to the cemetery.
On July 16, Father Puzonas received a written summons to come to the Širvintai Rayon Executive Committee where an administrative case concerning the funeral of Mrs. Gaidamavičienė would be considered. The priest did not go to this "parody" of a trial. On July 22, outside the rectory of Kiaukliai, District Chairman V. Karaliūnas was again waiting together with school Principal Jadvyga Gaitienė and Party organizer Sabakuonis. The chairman stated the pastor had committed two transgressions against law and order: on June 17, accompanying the deceased Juozas Geliūnas to the cemetery and June 19, organizing a procession from church to cemetery to the grave of the Polkas' little son who had died tragically last year. The officials threatened to punish the priest for every time he accompanied the deceased to the cemetery. The pastor explained that he would never obey laws contradicting church law and tradition, and asked in the future that they never bother him on such matters.
July 22, Father Puzonas received an announcement that for the funeral of the late T. Gaidamavičienė, he had been given a 50 ruble fine.
On June 19,1986, at 11 o'clock, Executive Committee Vice Chairwoman Danutė Gancerienė, Secretary Šidagienė, Financial Section staff Girskienė, Teacher Losinskienė of Middle School I, Teacher Laučkienė and Teacher Kirilova of Middle School II, came to the parish church in Molėtai and found 70 children. On August 20, 1986, the newspaper Tarybinis mokytojas (The Soviet Teacher) carried Vytautas Mockevičius' article in which he writes,"... the Commission determined that in the church of Molėtai, two groups of children: those from Molėtai, Utena, Panevėžys, Vilnius and other city schools were being taught catechism collectively by Father Juozas Kaminskas and by Miss Stasė Rokaitė, who was helping him. The author of the article affirms that the children are not the property of the parents, and such a "crime", the teaching and preparation of children for First Communion, is a transgression of "Constitutional guarantees of freedom of conscience."
On July 17,1986, Director Lesčiauskas of the Interschool Manufacturing Combine (Tarpmokyklinio Gamybinio kombinato) forced his way once more into the church of Šilalė, bringing along with him Chairwoman J. Paulauskienė of the Rayon Executive Committee and Mrs. O. Gudanavičienė, inspector of Minors' Affairs. This was the second visit government officials to the church of Šilalė (see CCCL No. 71 — Ed. Note), the so-called commission found in church some elderly women and a group of children preparing for their questioning prior to First Confession. The pastor, Father A. Ivanauskas, was faulted because of the fact that the children were in church without their parents, and a citation was written out. On July 21, Father Ivanauskas was summoned to a meeting of the Rayon Executive Committee Administrative Commission. Since it effected not only the pastor but the entire parish of Šilalė, and especially the families of believers which were preparing their children for First Confession and Communion, on the appointed day, when the priest showed up at the Rayon Executive Committee offices, there were already nearly two hundred persons with a petition to the chairman of the Rayon Executive Committee.
In the petition, the faithful expressed their displeasure at the arbitrariness of the officials. They wrote: "Not one of the children came to church without knowledge of their parents. First time, their parents brought them and stated that their child wants and they wish that their children make their First Confession and Communion. The parents of children of that age are all workers and not pensioners. "And if we," the parents wrote, "stayed in church with our children for hours on end during working hours, what then would the government and our superiors say? Hence, Lesčiauskas' statement that the children cannot be in church without their parents is meaningless and ill-conceived... We are annoyed at the repeated intrusion of government officials into church, and we advise them to carry out such raids and to go after thieves, drunkards and those committing wrong. Then they would really contribute to the betterment of our nation... We request that the Rayon government stop these attacks in church."
The petition was signed by over three hundred believers. The Administrative Commission, consisting of Chairwoman Karinauskienė, Secretary G. Piperienė and members V. Alonderienė, A. Juška and J. Šimelio on the pastor, Father A. Ivanauskas, a fine of 50 rubles.
Pajevonys (Vilkaviškis Rayon)
On July 22,1986, in Pajevonys, the centenary of the erection of the church was being celebrated. His Excellency, Bishop
Juozas Preikšas, came to the ceremonies. Regardless of the fact that the bishop's visit to the parish was cleared with the Com-misioner for Religious Affairs in Vilnius, Vice Chairman J. Urbonas of the Rayon Executive Committee summoned the pastor of Pajevonys, Father Juozas PeCiukonis, repremanded him and gave him a warning in the name of the rayon government.
On August 10, 1986, a religious festival was being celebrated in Veisiejai. Because the pastor, Father Stasys Mikalajūnas, without consulting the rayon government invited clergy help for the festival, the Rayon Administrative Commission fined the Chairman of the Veisiejai Church Committee 25 rubles.
Paringys (Ignalina Rayon)
During the summer of 1986, the Sacrament of Confirmation was administered in the parish church of Paringys. Participating in the solemnities without benefit of rayon government permission were priests of surrounding parhes: Ignalina, Melagėnai, Tverečius, Švenčionai and Švenčionėliai. The Ignalina Rayon Executive Committee considered it a crime, and officially warned the pastor of the parish of Paringys, Father Edmundas Paulionis, and the church committee.
August 12, 1986, the Rayon newspaper Nauja vaga (The New Furrow), published an article by Chief Inspector V. Kizas of the Council for Religious Affairs entitled, "Some Thoughts Recalling a Religious Holiday." Chief Inspector Kizas quoting and subjectively interpreting some paragraphs of Canon Law such as 526.1 and others, tried to show that the Regulations for Religious Associations do not contravene Canon Law, and therefore priests inviting clergy of neighboring parishes without the knowledge and approval of the government commit a transgression not only against the government, but against Canon Law.
The Utena Rayon government punishes pastors severely for inviting guest priests to religious festivals without rayon government approval. The Utena Rayon newspaper Lenino keliu (Lenin's Way), September 11, published an article by Rayon Attorney General K. Rakauskas, "We Are Not Allowed to Break the Law: It Is the Same for Everyone", in which he writes, "The pastor of Saldutiškis, Zenonas Navickas, was warned last year by the Rayon Executive Committee and the Rayon Attorney General that it is per-missable to invite clergy from other parishes to religious festivals and allow them to carry out ceremonies of worship only with consent of the local government..."
Navickas did not respond to the warnings so he was taken to criminal court. Lately, Navickas has been repeating the same "offenses". He invited priests from Kuktiškis, Labanoras and Tauragnai to the festival t carry out religious rites. According to the law, every minister has the right to hold services only in the parish to which he is assigned... Bronius Šlapelis, the pastor of the parish in Tauragnai, and and Juozas Šumskis of Užpaliai are constantly offending against this arrangement.
The pastor of Kirdeikiai, Father Juozas Zubrus, upon his arrival in the rayon, began visiting the families of workers at the state farm in Kirdeikiai, and advising the children of the workers how to choose a specialty. What does such activity on the part of the minister of cult have to do with satisfying the needs of the faithful? The entire task in connection with the rearing and education of children, their choice of a profession, is taken care of by the appropriate organs. Hence, the intrusion of a priest in what is none of his affair can not be justified.
The requirements of Par. 50 of the Regulations for Religious Associations are still not being fulfilled. This paragraph forbids the carrying out of religious rituals and ceremonies out-of-doors, and in the apartments and homes of believers, without special permission of the Rayon and City Council of Peoples' Deputies. Transgressing against these requirements, Miss Apolonija Leleivaitė has, since May 1 of this year, been organizing services in her home. Some individuals have been involved in vending activities around the house of worship or the churchyard during religious festivals. In this way, on August 17, outside the church of Utena, engaging in vending activities were a resident of our city, the pensioner Alina Pakalienė, daughter of Antanas; charwoman Elena Velykienė, daughter of Juozas, employed at the the polyclinic... this is a misdemeanor carrying with it for our citizens a fine of up to 50 rubles. Both of the women will be suitably punished.
Government officials told the pastor of Saldutiškis, Father Zenonas Navickas, that he was not allowed under any circumstances to invite Father Petras Baltuška to the festival, since he is included by the government among the priest-extremists.
Fined 50 rubles apiece were the following priests of the Utena jRayon: The pastor of Užpaliai, Father Juozas Šumskis; the Pastor of Sudeikiai, Father Povilas Juozėnas; the pastor of Palkaniai, Father Petras Baniulis; the pastor of Tauragnai, Father Bronius Šlapelis; the pastor of Saldutiškis, Father Zenonas Navickas; the pastor of Kirdeikiai, Father Jonas Zubrus; moreover, he was warned by the Commissioner for Religious Affairs himself, Petras Anilionis.
Kuršėnai (Šiauliai Rayon)
On October 15,1986, at about 1:00 P.M., two men came to see Father Stanislovas Ilinčius, Dean of Kuršėnai. One of them identified himself as Ąžuolas, and demanded 20,000 rubles from the dean for "the liberation of Lithuania". He boasted that the bishops had allegedly commissioned him to collect funds for that purpose. In an effort to convince him, he pulled out and held up a 'list of priests" who allegedly already donated money, and how much they donated. When the dean refused to discuss the matter with the peaceniks, one of them drew out a revolver and began making threats. The pastor calmly replied, "Yell all you want, I'm an old man anyway." At that point, the robber put his weapon back in his pocket and tried with blandishments to convince Father Ilinčius that it was necessary for him to collect the required sum of money, and promised to return for talk.
On the day when the provocateurs made their visit, Assistant Pastor Edmundas Atkočiūnas, living upstairs, was summoned to the offices of the Šiauliai Rayon government. When he returned, he found the "visitors" still speaking with the pastor. One could sense that something bad was happening, but the "visitors" would not allow the pastor to be called out and promised to terminate the conversation soon. The threats and arguments lasted about two hours.
From Kuršėnai, the provocateurs went to Gruzdžiai to see Father Juozas Čepėnas and presented him with similar demands, but some visitors gave the pastor a chance to excuse himself from his unwelcome guests. A few days later, those same characters tried to "have a talk" with Vytautas Kapočius, the pastor, but frightened by some parishioners, they took off.
The faithful of Lithuania estimate that this wave of threats and provocations is one way of frightening the priests prior to the Lithuanian Christianity Jubilee.
On April 7,1986, city and rayon church committee members were summoned to the Panevėžys Rayon Executive Committee. Some of those who gathered unofficially were propagandists for atheism who, posing as believers, would submit compromising questions. The meeting was conducted by Assistant Commissioner for Religious Affairs Jozėnas, Representative Sruogius of the City of Panevėžys and Rayon Executive Staff member Miss Bernotevičiūtė.
At the beginning of the meeting, Jozėnas boasted that thanks to the atheistic government, twenty-one seminarians finished the seminary and were ordained to the priesthood; twenty-one priests visited countries in the West and seven priests visited Africa Then followed a whole list of prohibitions and threats... priests are forbidden to teach children religion. The teaching of children is a challenge to the law: as an example, he mentioned the parishes of Krekanava and Vaduokliai, whose pastors had been appropriately penalized for teaching children. For visiting priests to give sermons during religious festivals, rayon permission is necessary. Jozėnas was particularly displeased by a letter of the priests of Panevėžys to General Secretary Gorbachev. The pastor of the parish of Vaduokliai, Father Boleslovas Babrauskas, and the emeritus priest of Raguva, Father Jonas Vaičiūnas, he called "professional provocateurs" and he promised to square accounts with them at the nearest opportunity. The speaker urged committee members not to allow priests to take up collections in church, or to show slides; he demanded accurate, statistical information concerning the numbers in the parish baptised, married, etc.
The Assistant Commissioner emphasized that all this was atheistic education and could not be called persecution in any way, and he promised all those who did not want to see it that way the same fate as that of Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius.
On October 3, 1986, a small wooden statue of the Sorrowful Mother of God was stolen from the churchyard of Mikoliškiai.
Nevarėniai (Telšiai Rayon)
The night of October 18, 1986, culprits broke into the church of Nevarėniai through a window protected by bars and, cutting the wires, made off with the church's large, antique chandelier.
The Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius was robbed: the offering boxes and sacristy safe were robbed. The church of Sudervė in the Rayon of Vilnius has been robbed twice. The churches of Dūkštas and others in the Vilnius area have been burglarized.
On December 9, 1985, a group of the faithful from Adakavas participated in the anniversary Mass for their late pastor, Father Valentinas Šikšnys in Nevarėnai, Rayon of Telšiai. In a few days, all those who had participated in the priest's anniversary were found out: Those who had missed work or school had to submit written explanations. The case histories of those who had been ill that day were investigated at the polyclinic; just as a year ago, government officials went around visiting people. Party Secretary Budrikis of the Communal Farm Tarybinės Kelias (The Soviet Way), Chairman KolpaviCius, Union President Jankevičius, Skaudvilė District Chairman Mikašauskas, Adakavas Eight-grade school principal Bajoriūnienė and Director Diksas of the Home for the Elderly, distinguished themselves by their "zeal" in interrogating, threatening and pressuring people.
On October 4, 1986, the Catholics of Gargždai wrote to CPSU Central Committee General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev demanding that orders finally be given to the local government to allow raising the roof of the Gargždai church building-barracks. To date, the local government, especially Rayon Vice Chairman A. Leita, has only ridiculed the requests of the faithful. The petition was signed by 1,162 Catholics.
Mikoliškiai (Kretinga Rayon)
On October 12, 1986, the faithful of the parish wrote a petition to the Council for Religious Affairs requesting that the Commissioner not prevent the parish of Mikoliškiai from obtaining a bus which is needed to bring the elderly to church. When people in Pskov arrange with Moscow agencies concerning the renting of a bus, those agencies immediately receive a letter from Petras Anilionis forbidding them to sell a bus to the parish of Mikoliškiai. This is the way the decision of the LSSR Supreme Court allowing religious associations to obtain means of transportation is carried out in practice. The petition was signed by 185 faithful of the parish of Mikoliškiai.
On October 5,1985, in Viešvėnai, Bronius Savickis, a disabled war veteran and long-time sacristan in the parish of Viešvėnai, was interred. Among the participants in the funeral were the children of the Viešvėnai eight-grade school. By order of Vice-principal Riešotienė, children with flowers or wreaths had to stand outside. Expelled from the church, they stood around in the belfry since it was cold and raining outside.
On March 26,1986, at 10:00 P.M., two officials in uniform showed up at the home of Regina Teresiūtė, at Laisvės 11, Kelmė. Not finding Miss Teresiūtė at home, they began shouting and frightening her parents, calling their daughter a parasite and tramp, and threatening to put Regina in jail. They made the girl's father sign some vague documents. At the time, Miss Teresiūtė was employed as organist in the parish of Žalpiai. The officials demanded that when their daughter returned, she should report to the Rayon Internal Affairs Department. When Miss Teresiūtė went to the department, she was told that Žalpiai parish committee chairman Vasiliauskas had terminated her contract three months earlier and so if she did not quickly obtain government employment, she would be brought to trial for parasitism. Arguing that after she finished Middle School she had not been allowed, on account of her religious beliefs, to go on for further studies, Miss Teresiūtė declared that she would go to prison rather than take government employment. As it later became clear, Chairman Vasiliauskas of the Žalpiai church committee had been threatened by officials that if he kept the "political criminal" on the church payroll, he could expect unpleasantness. He was forced to abrogate her contract without informing Miss Teresiūtė.
Since April 1,1986, Miss Teresiūtė has been working as laundrywoman and charwoman in the parishes of Žarėnai-Latveliai and Bazilonai, but the persecution did not stop. From time to time, Regina's parents are terrorized by visiting militiamen, demanding that the parents use their influence with their daughter to defer to the demands of government officials that she not work for the church. At about 3:00 A.M., the night of May 22, 1986, two uniformed officials knocked at the door of the Teresius' home. Since the militiamen did not deign to introduce themselves or explain for what purpose they were trying to get in, the Teresius' did not admit them.
On September 29, 1986, resident Jonas Sadūnas was summoned to a delegates' meeting of Building Cooperative No. 99. Cooperative Chairman Petras Žiupsnys inquired why Sadūnas had not brought his sister Nijolė Sadūnaitė, to the meeting. Jonas Sadūnas explained that Nijolė had been expelled from the cooperative fourteen months previously, and so was not obliged to attend meetings; that moreover, she was not a little child who needed to be brought. Žiupsnys declared that Nijolė Sadūnaitė is supposed to reclaim from the State Bank the dues which belonged to her after she was expelled from the cooperative. He added that if she did not withdraw her money within a month, her money would be transferred to a savings account, and if she did not withdraw it for three years, the money would be turned over to the state account (Nijolė Sadūnaitė has paid in 5,000 for her apartment.). Žiupsnys complained that it was five years since he had seen Nijolė Sadūnaitė, and he was trying to find out where she was living. Her brother explained that Nijolė Sadūnaitė had been unjustly expelled from membership in the cooperative, since there are no set limits on a member's absence from his or her own cooperative apartment. Ziupsnys complained that Nijolė Sadūnaitė travels about the whole Soviet Union and so it is practically impossible to find her.
"At the intersection of six highways, there is a beautiful corner of Samogitia named Seda. The surrounding areas are beautiful to see. Particularly interesting is Plinkšės. Here lies Lake Plinkšiai, surrounded by the forests in which a confrontation took place between some insurgents and the army in 1863.
"Between Lake Plinkšiai and the Sruojas Stream lies a knoll called the Maidens' Hill or Maidens' Fortress Hill. It is said that within it were hidden tunnels leading under the lake to a park. Into them, about two thousand young women had fled to hide from the Swedes. The latter found them and sealed the entrance with a boulder. From beneath it, a spring is said to have burst forth from the women's tears."
This is how Č. Kudaba describes Plinkšės, a little corner of Samogitia, in his book The Knolls of Samogitia. This year marks the 360th anniversary of those times when the Swedes overran our land.
Kudaba writes, "This is an important topic: the long struggle of the people against their oppressors. Samogitia was decorated with material cultural monuments by common working people who embodied bright dreams for the future in their creative efforts which the socialist era appreciates and preserves..."
As a matter of fact, looking at contemporary events, we cannot agree with the author's words, "...appreciates and preserves".
Four years ago, on the night of April 3, twenty crosses and two shrines "under state protection" on Maidens' Hill were demolished. Residents of the district and the entire believing public were outraged by the "action" on the part of local atheists and former KGB Chief Laskutov. Complaints were written to the LSSR Council of Ministers, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania, the Adjutant General's office in Moscow, the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party and the television program Argumentai. Instead of looking for the culprits, they investigated those who signed the petitions. In spite of this outflanking on the part of the government atheists, Maidens' Hill lives. From time to time, believing people dare to erect crosses on the hill. This is followed by investigations, surveillance and attempts to detect the "culprits". Obviously, the crosses are immediately uprooted.
During the annual religious festival of Žemaičių Kalvariją (Calvary of the Lowlanders), Maidens' Hill is guarded day and night by the army, and the KGB, which not only prevent anyone from driving up to it, but also from approaching it on foot. Those who try to get in touch with our national history by visiting the hillock are investigated, blackmailed and threatened.
Following is an article entitled, "He built Himself a Pen," which appeared in the Skuodas Rayon newspaper, Mūsų žodis (Our Word), February 18,1986:
"In 1930, the pastor of Ylakiai told parishioners to pay an assessment of one litas per hectare allegedly for construction of a livestock pen. He would collect the money during the annual parish visitation. I gave no money and the pastor became angry:
'"Why won't you help Holy Church?'
'"Because, Father, you are comparing the Church with a pigpen,' I replied. 'Let those who wish to raise porkers build their own pigpen.'
"The pastor threatened, 'You're going to have trouble.
"The following year, my husband's father died. When I went to the rectory, the pastor looked at me angrily, referring to some sort of book, and ordered me to 'pay up'.
'"Last year, you didn't pay 10 litas, so this year, you must
"I was 2 litas short, and the pastor pushed the money back to me. I was forced to borrow and 'pay up'. The pastor won out.
"Eleven years went by. During the early days of the first occupation under fascist Germany, Father Martinkus in a sermon complained, 'Those Communists and atheists would have created a famine and a depression. Let us make an offering to god for for saving us!'
'With the approach of the liberation of Lithuania, Martinkus took off for the West and now he vilifies Soviet Lithuania over Vatican Radio. No wonder. There they pay Martinkus more than was collected in his old parish for the construction of the pigpen, and it appears to be perfectly alright for a representative of Holy Church to besmirch himself with offal for money."
This article was no accident. In rayon newspapers, an entire page under the general title "Akiratis" ("Horizon") is devoted to such libel quite often, as it was this time. In the Rayon of Skuodas, authorship of articles such as this one is usually claimed by Ona Vičiulienė. It is difficult to believe that being barely literate and a long-time resident of the infirmary, the little old lady would have any interest in journalism. It is much easier to believe that the disseminators of partisan libel against the Church, religion and clergy are merely hiding behind the little old lady's name, the more so since there is not a grain of truth in the article. In the church of Skuodas, the pastor of Šačiai, Father Vincentas Senkus, rebutted the aforesaid article. He explained:
1. In 1930, Martinkus could not have collected money from the parishioners, since at that time he was not only not the pastor, but he was not even a priest. He was in the second year of the seminary. This is documented in the 1930 edition of the directory entitled Elenchus.
2. Father Martinkus never was stationed in Ylakiai. He worked in the nearby parish of Židikai, where he erected not a pigpen, but a rectory. The latter had been confiscated and has been so neglected by the "peoples' protectors" that, as a matter of fact, it is reminiscent of a pigpen.
By the efforts of Father Martinkus, a shrine was erected in the Cemetery of Židikai, where the writer and educator Marija Pečkauskaitė, well known to everyone, is interred.
3. The accusation that Father Martinkus is presently vilifying Soviet Lithuania over Vatican Radio is an unprecidented accusation, since it is about ten years since he died!
This is the kind of "truth" which Soviet citizens are fed!