To: Comrade Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union From: Priests of the Diocese of Telšiai and the Prelature of Klaipėda
The Constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics guarantees freedom of conscience and freedom of religious practice: "To citizens of the U.S.S.R., freedom of conscience is guaranteed; that is the right to profess any religion or not profess any, to practice religious cults, or to carry on anti-religious propaganda." (Art. 52)
The same is stated in the Constitution of the Lithuanian S.S.R. (Art. 50.) Besides, the government of the U.S.S.R. has signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the 18th paragraph of which is emphasized the right of every citizen to profess his beliefs and to proclaim them.
The atheists of the L.S.S.R. have the rights guaranteed in the aforesaid documents and make use of them. Meanwhile, the faithful are seriously constrained. The teaching of religious truth is allowed only in church during the sermon at services, and only to older people.
Up to the age of eighteen, believers may not be introduced to the truths of religion or its practice, even in church during services. This is allowed only to the parents themselves at home.
We are quite shocked by the obvious inequality. The atheists are granted the possibility of carrying on anti-religious propaganda, of using government support and all the mass media of information, beginning with kindergarden and ending with funeral services. Believers, however, are not allowed to make use of any mass media of information. They are forced to hand over the education of their believing children into atheist hands.
Canon Law categorically obliges priests to concern themselves with the preparation not only of adults, but also of youth and children for religious practice. (Canons 773-777) Parents, busy with work, turn to the priests, requesting them to teach the children. Fulfilling this obligation, priests come up against the strict prohibitions of government officials — atheists — become involved in conflict situations and are repressed. Not long ago, the priests Prosperas Bubnys, Juozapas Zdebskis and Antanas Šeškevičius were imprisoned for acquainting children with religious practice. In 1986 alone, Fathers Antanas Ivanauskas, Antanas Šeškevičius and Vytautas Insoda were penalized. Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis, having been more active, have been imprisoned for long terms.
For atheistic reasons alone, the Cathedral of Vilnius has been confiscated and transformed into an art gallery, and the Church of Saint Casimir in Vilnius into a museum of atheism. The Church of Mary, Queen of Peace erected with the hands and donations of the faithful has been taken away in Klaipeda, where for many years in that port city of 200,000 residents, believers have been suffocating in a small house of prayer and cannot wait for the wrong committed by the atheists to be redressed. Clergy and faithful are painfully effected by the constant insults to the feelings of the faithful, especially in the press and in school - something which clearly contradicts the claims of atheist propaganda and which, alas, is allowed in our country.
The priests and the faithful know that in other socialist countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Germany, Poland and Hungary, priests are allowed to prepare the children of believing parents for the practice of religion, not only in church, but also in facilities connected with the church.
Seeing that a great restructuring is currently being carried out, we come to you, most honorable General Secretary, with a request that this restructuring effect also the freedom of religious practice in our republic, especially that we priests be granted the ability to carry out without restriction one of the most important requirements of Church law: preparing the children of believing parents for the practice of their religion.
Signed by the following priests of the Diocese of Telšiai and the Klaipeda Prelature:
Fathers: Vincentas Klebonas, Vincentas Vėlavičius, Boleslovas Jonauskis, Alfonsas Pridotkas, Algirdas Pakamanis, Jonas Petrauskas, Konstantinas Velioniškis, Juozapas Rutalč, Jonas Bugelis, Vincas Gauronskis,
Ignas Žeberskis, Antanas Striukis, Jonas Bučinskas, Antanas Gylys, Petras Linkevičius, Petras Puzaras, Stanislovas Lierinskas, Albinas Arnašius, Ferdinandas Žilys, Jonas Kauneckas,
Bronislovas Latakas, Juozapas Grabauskas, Adomas Alminas, Petras Stukas, Alfonsas Klimavičius, Juozapas Olšauskas, Jonas Pakalniškis, Stasys Letukas, Vytautas Kadys, Feliksas Valaitis,
Liudvikas Dambrauskas, Antanas Beniušis, Bronislovas Bur-neikis, Albertas Franskaitis, Adolfas Pudžemys, Bronislovas Bradžius, Klemensas Arlauskas, Antanas Augustis, Liudas Tamašauskas, Antanas Petronaitis,
Antanas Jurgaitis, Aloyzas Lideikis, Domininkas Skirmontas, Juozapas Gausiūnas, Jonas Paliukas, Juozapas Pacinskas, Kazimieras Žukas, Juozapas Siurys, Tadas Poška, Jonas Gedvilą,
Romualdas Žulpa, Pranciškus Venskus, Konstantinas Jadviršis, Edmundas Atkočiūnas, Stanislovas Vaitelis, Juozapas Gunta, Stanislovas Ilinčius, Kazimieras Rimkus, Juozapas Razminas, Henrikas Sirtautas,
Vytautas Žvirzdinas, Juozapas Maželis, Vladas Šlevas, Petras Našlėnas, Kazimieras Gaščiūnas, Zenonas Degutis, Antanas Ivanauskas, Česlovas Degutis, Antanas Ričkus, Liudas Serapinas,
Petras Jasas, Stanislovas Anužis, Vladislovas Juškys, Juozapas Miklovas, Petras Merliūnas, Bernardas Talaišis, Petras Balsys, Antanas Gar-jonis, Antanas Bunkus, Anupras Gauronskis,
Liudas Šarkauskas, Anupras Žukas, Česlovas Gudliauskas, Aloyzas Volskis,
Vytautas Mikutavičius, Juozapas Jonauskas, Juozapas Širvaitis, Domininkas Bivainis, Petras Bernotas, Klemensas Puidokas,
Antanas Šeškevičius, Jonas Rudzinskas, Kazimieras Prialgaus-kas, Jonas Vičiulis, Bronislovas Racevičius, Julius Miškinis, Domininkas Giedra, Algis Genutis, Juozapas Šukys, Tomas Švambarys,
Juozapas Bukauskas, Leonas Veselis, Henrikas Šelgas, Kazimieras Gylys, Vytautas Petrauskas, Kazimieras Macelis, Antanas Zdanavičius.
To: The Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian SSR The Ministry of Education of the Lithuanian SSR The Executive Committee of the Klaipėda Rayon The Editors of the Klaipėda Rayon newspaper Banga Copy to: Antanas Vaičius, Bishop of Telšiai
From: Father Antanas Šeškevičius, son of Kazys
The believers of the parish of Gargždai, Klaipėda Rayon
On September 9, of this year, the Klaipeda Rayon newspaper, Banga (Wave), published an article under the heading, "Niekam nevalia pažeidinėti įstatymų" ("No One Is Allowed to Break the Law"), in which Secretary J. Surplienč of the Executive Committee of the Gargždai City Council of Peoples' Deputies accuses me and the faithful of unlawful funeral services and of the unlawful preparation of children for confession. We appeal to you, hoping for a more just judgement. We therefore explain the article:
1. We quote the introduction to the article: "Art. 96 of the Constitution of the Lithuanian S.S.R. proclaims that in order to guarantee the citizens' freedom of conscience in the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Church is separate from the state, and the school from the Church. Freedom of religious worship and freedom of anti-religious propaganda are guaranteed to all citizens."
It further affirms: "Nowhere is the believer the least bit distinguished from the unbeliever."
(1)Art. 96 of the Constitution requires: "A deputy is obliged to give the electorate an accounting of his work and the work of the council...", and Art. 50 speaks of religious freedom. This is no confusion of numbers by mistake. Is it not shameful for the Secretary not to be acquainted with the Constitution and to play with it so lightly? At the same level are the editors of Banga who print it. If they act this way with the Constitution, then what could be said about religious rights which they distort in the articles, together with religious illiterates. The faithful must remain silent; while the atheists have all the newspapers, they do not have a single one. This is why all sorts of absurdities and calumnies are written against them.
(2)The Secretary claims that citizens are not being wronged because of religion. According to the Constitution, that is how it should be. And if it were so, the faithful would have their own newspapers and would be publishing books for the whole nation. However, they do not have a single newspaper nor a single book about religion. True, they did print some prayer books and catechisms: a few thousand of each for adults, while for children, catechisms are printed clandestinely. Meanwhile, the atheists have a press: so not one believer is being wronged, but all of them.
According to the freedom of conscience granted by the Constitution (Art. 50), all teachers and civil servants would not be afraid to go to church, students would not be persecuted for going to church, they would not be dragooned into atheistic organizations, the faithful could freely accompany their dead to the cemetery, priests could freely teach children catechism and
teach religion to school-children in church throughout the year. The faithful could build churches and have their own radio programs and many other rights. It is true that other socialist republics have such rights; only we do not.
The Secretary does not know the Constitution, nor life. She knows well that a believing teacher cannot publicly appear in church if he or she wishes to go on teaching. Hence, teachers travel as far as possible to other parishes where no one recognizes them. School-children, at least during vacation, dare to go to church. Once some school-girls told a priest: "Our teacher strictly forbids us to believe in God."
How many such cases there are! More than one teacher has been relieved of her duties on account of religion. One street-sweeper who used to clean the sidewalk in front of the Gargždai Party Headquarters used to take her children to church. When the KGB found out about it, they threatened her in such a way that she no longer goes to church herself, nor allows her children to go. For a morsel of bread, a person is forced to renounce religion. Such is the freedom of conscience which the Constitution guarantees! If this is how they treat a street-sweeper, then all the more so workers and officials; and everyone knows it, it is no secret to anyone.
They confiscated the Cathedral of Vilnius. They turned the Church of Saint Casimir into a Museum of Atheism, many churches they closed outright. Queen of Peace Church in Kalipėda, they coverted into a concert hall; the people of Gargždai are suffering in a little church-barracks, and the government does not allow them to erect a new one or to remodel the old one. The faithful are not only forbidden to purchase a bus to transport elderly people to church, but even to rent one. How naive then do the Secretary's words appear: "Nowhere is there the least discrimination between the believer and the unbeliever."
(3) The Secretary gets off the subject and teaches that the believer, upon becoming acquanted with the scientific facts, "becomes convinced that there is no god and that religion is empty mysticism".
At the same time, one of the greatest scientists of the century, Albert Einstein, affirms, "I cannot imagine a scientist without religion... The world is a great farm very well cared for, so there must be a farmer."
The inventor of the computer, a professor and engineer, states: "It would be a clear sign of insanity if one were to claim that electronic brains were able to materialize of themselves, without any intelligent planner. But what are they compared to the brain of a living human being? They are just one more ridiculous child's toy. If the computer could not materialize without a planner, then how could even a single vein of a living organism materialize of itself; it is incomparably better than even the most perfectly designed machine. I cannot disbelieve, since my intelligence forces me to believe in God." (Hathaway)
The great naturalist, Charles Darwin (1809-1882), in a letter to Fordyce, states categorically, "Never in my work was I an atheist. Never did I deny God."
Ask the child who is beginning to think, "Did this watch make itself?"
He immediately replies, "How could it make itself without a
But Secretary Surplienė believes that the whole world materialized of itself. Can there be a greater absurdity than atheism? It is the greatest enemy of science and logic. "Scientists are the most religious of people." (Einstein)
2. Funerals not in keeping with the law. The Secretary quotes Regulation Number 48 of the Regulations for Religious Associations, which allows services to be carried out without requesting government permission in buildings for religious worship, and Number 50, which forbids religious processions or ceremonies outside without permission. She emphasizes that the faithful and I did not obey Regulation Number 50, since I accompanied the funeral procession to the cemetery.
(1) The Secretary, accusing the priest and faithful of "illegal funeral rites", bases this on the Regulations for Religious Associations. But the Regulations themselves are illegal, imposed on priests and faithful by force. They are contrary to Canon Law, and by the same token, in violation of freedom of conscience and even of the Soviet Constitution, which guarantees freedom of conscience and separation of Church and state. The nationalizing of churches and the administration of Church property according to government regulations violates Church law, Canons 1518-1551. The Church Committees through which the state interferes in internal affairs of the churches and subjugates the Church to itself is in violation not only of Church law, but also of the Soviet Constitution (Art. 50). The Regulations for Religious Associations specify that in the hospital, only those patients are allowed to receive the sacraments who are seriously ill or danger of death. (Art. 49)
Where then is freedom of conscience for the healthy? Priests are forbidden to make pastoral visits to the faithful, (kalėduojima) (Art. 45) But the Church commands it. There are many instances in which the Regulations are opposed to freedom of conscience and the Constitution. The freedom of conscience guaranteed by the Constitution is hemmed in by all sorts of regulations, bans, penalties and administrative directives the way a prisoner is confined to camp by several rows of barbed wire. Freedom is taken captive. It is therefore no wonder that more than once, the priests of Lithuania have sent signed statements to the government that they are unable to keep regulations which are opposed to Canon Law, freedom of conscience and by the same token, the Soviet Constitution.
In other Communist countries, the Church is also separated from the state, but there, they abide by their constitutions, so believers there enjoy somewhat greater freedom, both of conscience and of the Church. For example, in Poland, teachers, students and government workers freely attend church. Believers have their own press, they freely teach religion in church facilities, religious orders function openly, there are processions in the streets, thousands of devotees go to Czestochowa with banners and crosses and they erect new churches. But how are things here?
There, the state does not interfere in the acceptance of candidates for the seminary while here, every applicant must first get through the Offices of the KGB and the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, and obtain their approval. The Commissioner sets quotas for seminarians even though there is a great shortage of priests in Lithuania. Without the Commissioner's permission, the bishops do not have any right to appoint priests to parishes. The faithful must pay higher taxes for their churches. Even the dead are given no freedom: no crosses are allowed on their graves.
(2) In 1966, the government published a Ritual for the Dioceses of Lithuania, Part II. It was thoroughly censored by the government and approved by the Commissioner. In it is set forth the order of services for funerals: The cross and two banners lead the procession, while the priest precedes the casket (pp. 256-285). The Church has held to this arrangement for burial for six hundred years. It is the duty and right of a priest to carry out funerals in accordance with the Ritual.
(3) Then Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Kazimieras Tumėnas, summoned me by telegraph to Vilnius in 1977 on account of the petition I submitted regarding funerals and told me clearly, "Carry the cross, the priest may precede the deceased." Tum6nas so informed Vice Chairman A. Leita of the Klaipėda Rayon Executive Committee. We abide by this, since it conforms with directives of the Church and of the Constitution, although not with the atheists' desire to oppress the faithful more and more, stripping them completely of their rights.
3. The preparation of children for confession not in accord with the law. Secretary Surplien6 accuses me and the faithful of this on the basis of the separation of the school from the Church, and of transgressing Art. 17 and 18 of the Regulations for Religious Associations.
(1) The Constitution, our basic law, must be applied in practice. In other countries, separation of Church and state is understood as follows: Religion is not taught in school, but a religious community is not forbidden to have its own schools, e.g., in Poland, Democratic Germany, Hungary and elsewhere, the children of believers are taught religion in church facilities. There are separate kindergartens and freedom of conscience is maintained.
Meanwhile in our country, the religious regulations which government atheists are so bent on enforcing deprive believers of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience which are guaranteed by the Constitution and by human nature. By their behavior, the atheists in practice even transgress against the regulations; they arrive at the most laughable absurdities: it is forbidden to question two children to test them in religion, since that, according to their firmest convictions, is school.
When atheistic propaganda fails to produce the desired results and parents continue to take their children to church so that they might be introduced there to the truths of religion, those who help busy parents to prepare the children for First Confession and Communion are persecuted by commissions and administrative fines. For example, on July 9 of this year, when a rather large number of children, together with their mothers and other faithful gathered in the church of Gargždai before the evening services to be tested by me on religion in order to obtain a ticket for confession, a group of some sort of government officials suddenly forced their way into church disrespectfully. Among them was Mrs. J. Surplienė; Miss Z. Vitkutė, Director of the Finance Division; Social Security Director Šuminas and others.
Precisely at that moment, I told all the children: "Anyone wishing to obtain a ticket should go out into the churchyard to be quizzed."
I followed, together with many children and their mothers. The Director of the Finance Division shouted in church, "Where are you taking the children?"
In the churchyard, in the presence of the mothers who were there, I quizzed them, one by one. Suddenly, the Social Security Director ran out of church and began looking for the priest. The mothers would not allow Šuminas near the priest, protesting, "We need the priest. We prepared our children and brought them to be tested."
The Director shouted from a distance, "You're teaching catechism! Will you sign a report?"
T will not sign any reports," I replied.
One could hear the mothers and grandmothers lecturing them: "What kind of Lithuanians are you?..."
The commission withdrew, and I continued to quiz the children and give them tickets for confession.
The next day, at the offices of the City Executive Committee, I asked Secretary Surplienė who had come to church the day before. She explained that it had been a commission which had drafted the report and submitted it to Vice Chairman Leita of the Klaipeda Rayon Executive Committee. Here is how Art. 50 of the Constitution actually sounds:
"Citizens of the Lithuanian S.S.R. are guaranteed freedom of conscience. The Church is separated from the state and the school from the Church."
Representatives of the state and of the school take charge in church! Art. 50 of the Constitution states:
"It is forbidden to incite discord and hatred in connection with
But what do the atheists do?
(2)Even Art. 17 ofthe Regulations for Religious Associations allow special gatherings of children and youth having a connection with carrying out services. But confession and communion are precisely part of worship and priests have the duty to prepare them. In the churches, such preparation and instruction take place daily during the sermon and through catechism for grownups. Is that school? The Secretary tells us to limit ourselves to taking care of the sick and dying. Christ-God commands: "Go and teach all nations." So whom are priests supposed to listen to more - atheist Surplienė or Christ?
(3)Although the atheists try in all ways to deprive the faithful of the possibility of knowing their faith more deeply and have been forcing atheism on everybody for forty years, Secretary Surplienė cannot rejoice that the number of faithful in Lithuania is decreasing, or that children go to church and practice their religion just to receive gifts.
We request you to influence the atheists-Communists to abide by the Constitution and grant everyone freedom of conscience which the basic law of the land guarantees.
Gargždai, September 27,1986
Signed by Father A. Šeškevičius and 682 faithful
(The petition has been shortened, the language uncorrected. - Ed. Note) Šiauliai
On March 31, 1987, Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs Lebedev and Vice Chairwoman Gaurilčikienė of the Šiauliai City Executive Committee conducted a seminar for members of the Šiauliai City and Rayon church committees. Lebedev gave those assembled a wide-raging explanation of the 600 anniversary of the baptism of Lithuania and preparation for it, repeatedly trying to convince people that the government is posing no obstacles in the way of this preparation. He emphasized that priests can perform their priestly duties only within the confines of their own parish, and if they wish to go to another parish, permission of the Rayon Executive Committee is necessary. In this regard, the lecturer had some negative comments about Father Algirdas Pakamanis, pastor of the parishes of Žarėnai-Latveliai and Father Feliksas Balionas, pastor of Bazilioniai. Lebedev mentioned several Lithuanian priests who regularly work in other Soviet republics and that in his opinion is actually a crime. He told church committee members to keep an eye on the pastoral activities of priests, to listen carefully to their sermons and if they noticed anything contrary to the requirements posed by the government, to inform the appropriate organs. He emphasized that a priest is just a minister of cult and that his activities must be strictly limited to administration of the sacraments at the request of the faithful. In the words of Lebedev, the sole and true administrators of churches are the so-called committees of twenty. He told them to oppose the collection of signatures under petitions allegedly vilifying Soviet reality and the sale of religious articles.
To the question whether Pope John Paul II would be able to participate in the 600th anniversary of the Baptism of Lithuania, the lecturer responded in the negative. Asked why, he explained that the pope is very much opposed to the Soviet Union. In the words of Lebedev, he does not even recognize Socialist Lithuania.
To the question why His Excellency, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, has been kept in exile for more than 25 years, the Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs replied that it was not a government matter, but that Bishop Steponavičius had been assigned to Žagarė to work as associate pastor by the bishop for not keeping Soviet law.
The faithful dispersed from the seminar depressed. They had been hoping for more open discussion with the government officials, but this discussion did not differ in any way from earlier "brainwashings".
To: General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union Copies to: Chairman Chebrikov of the U.S.S.R. KGB Chief of the Lithuanian S.S.R. KGB Bishops and Administrators of Dioceses of Lithuania From: Father Antanas Gražulis Residing at: Lietuvoje, Alytaus m., Pušyno 6.
On January 8,1987, the newspaper Pravda published an article by Chairman Chebrikov of the Soviet Union KGB. In it, the author mentions that there are instances when KGB officials break the law.
Honorable General Secretary, feeling that members of the security committee of Lithuania are acting arbitrarily, I appeal to you.
On November 17,1986, two men (unknown to me), informing me by telephone to expect guests, visited my housekeeper, Mrs. Jarmalienė, who lives at Pušyno 6 (I also live here as a tenant). They identified themselves as KGB agents. They told the housekeeper to go into town and not to return before 1:00 P.M. After lunch, she was again ordered to leave her home. Left to themselves in the apartment, the KGB worked on something, for hammerblows and other sounds could be heard. The uninvited guest left only after dark.
For approximately two weeks beginning November 17, neighbor Bendoravičius' dog was poisoned under suspicious circumstances. More than once, after dark, even in the rain, my brother and I used to see two strange men near the housekeeper's storage shed. Spotting us, they would immediately withdraw.
Later, the housekeeper was ordered to unlock the door to the house at 6:00 A.M. At 6:07, two men (as my brother and I witnessed) entered the house but did not turn on the light. At dawn, as on the former occasion, they told the housekeeper to go downtown, and to return only at the time specified by them. At lunchtime my brother, having requested permission of the housekeeper to use the telephone, saw two strange men. Covering their faces, they ran into the room. After preparing lunch, the housekeeper again had to leave the "guests" alone in the rooms till evening. During that time, they could be heard working on the other side of the wall. The uninvited guests left at 11:35 P.M.
After their departure, some sort of interference materialized in my radio receiver and in the housekeeper's, preventing us from listening even to the Vilnius station. At intervals, the station's programs could not be heard at all. I inquired at the Alytus B.G.A. Combine about the interference with the Vilnius radio broadcasts. They explained that the combine does not do such work. Radio specialists of my acquaintance suspect that eavesdropping devices may possibly have been installed in the housekeeper's home or in the neighboring house. On November 30, at 6:15 A.M., a friend of mine leaving on a journey noticed standing at the corner of the house, a man who, upon seeing him, quickly withdrew.
With the approach of Christmas, the persecution stepped up. On December 23, automobiles were parked around the house where I lived. Some would arrive and others would leave. Seated in them were two or three individuals. Protruding from the automobiles under the backdoor windows were some sort of antennas (such as I have never seen in the stores). When anyone approached the automobiles, they would quickly stow the antennas inside and cover over some sort of apparatus. When they sensed that we were watching them, they would drive away. On the basis of the license plates, investigators determined that all those automobiles were from Vilnius. I was suspicious of these automobiles whose license plate numbers were: 3246LID, A8236LI, A7600LI, R3972LI. I informed you of this by telegram December 23.
Honorable General Secretary, what I have described was told to me personally by the housekeeper. The appropriate individuals can force her as a pensioner with a heart condition to deny the things she told me. The housekeeper explained to me, "How could I not let them in. I am afraid of them. They can do everything. They can kill me and wreak vengeance on my children, throwing them out of work..."
Is this not a transgression of Soviet law and of the most elementary human rights? Why is it not possible even to listen to Soviet news without interference?
During the month of August, 1986, Miss V. Zalomskytė was fined 25 rubles for catechizing children.
As usual on January 27, the faithful of Lithuania gathered in great numbers in the church of Marijampolė to celebrate the commemoration of the death of the honorable Servant of God, Archbishop Jurgis Matulevičius
Participating in the celebration were bishops: Julijonas Steponavičius Juozapas Priekšas and Vladas Michelevičius and many priests. The sermon at the principle Mass was delivered by Bishop Michelevičius, and during Mass, a joint choir of organists sang, (sic)
At the end of services, the faithful did not disperse from the Archbishop's tomb for a long time.
The evening of January 26, children and youth from various corners of Lithuania assembled at the tomb of Archbishop Jurgis Matulevičius to draw faith, determination and the spirit of sacrifice. After Mass and the homily which was delivered by Father Kęstutis Brilius, representatives of the youth from various parishes carried out a pre-planned program: hymns were sung and prayers and poems were read.
Rudamina (Lazdijai Rayon)
On February 5 and 7, 1987, the first anniversary of the death of Father Juozapas Zdebskis was commemorated in the church of Rudamina.
Participating in services February 5 were about thirty priests and His Excellency, Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius. After Mass, the bishop together with the clergy and faithful, went in procession to the grave of Father
Zdebskis in the churchyard where they all prayed together. Bishop Sladkevičius and Father Leonas Kalinauskas preached.
On February 7 (a Saturday), a large number of faithful, youth and adults, who had not been able to take part in services February 5 on account of work or school, came to the church in Rudamina. On Saturday, seven priests and His Excellency Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius concelebrated Mass. In the sermon which was preached by His Excellency, Bishop Steponavičius, the virtues of Father Zdebskis were extolled along with the contribution his activities had made to the history of the Church and the nation.
After Mass, the bishop, the priests and the young people dressed in national costume, as well as the the other participants, gathered at the grave of Father Zdebskis. After prayers for the dead conducted by Bishop Steponavičius, a few words were said by the Dean of Lazdijai, Father Vincentas Jalinskas, and a youth representative. All sang Marija, Marija together.
On August 18, 1987, the Peoples' Court of the City of Šiauliai, presided over by Chairman V. Krūmas amd Vice Chairman A. Neverauskas fined the pastor of the parish of Žarėnai-Latveliai, Father Algirdas Pakamanis, 50 rubles. In the verdict of August 18, it is noted that Father Pakamanis is accused and the fine is assessed because without government permission, he went to Varduva and there, during a religious festival preached, they were informed, a sermon non-religious in content. Father Pakamanis, arguing that the Regulations for Religious Associations were unlawful and incompatible with a priest's conscience, refused to pay the fine.
On January 3,1987, Executive L. Jocienė of the Peoples' Court of Šiauliai urged Father Pakamanis in writing to pay the fine. On January 10, again a final warning was received to come in and pay the 50 ruble fine. Because Father Pakamanis refused to do so, Executive Jocienė, Militia official Senior Lieutenant Juozapavičius; Valdemaras Meiliulis, Chairman of the Executive Committee of the District of Šakynai and driver Pranas Beleckas showed up at the rectory. Militia officer Juozapavičius explained that Father Pakamanis had broken Soviet law and had been justly sentenced. The priest having refused to pay the fine, the aforesaid sumofmoney would be extracted by confiscating personal property. Court Executive Jocienė drew up an inventory on the basis of which the windshield and electronic clock from his Moskvich would be taken.
On January 19, 1987, four representatives of the faithful of Klaipėda appealed to the U.S.S.R. Council for Religious Affairs demanding the return of the return of the church of the Queen of Peace, unjustly confiscated from them by the government. The government officials tried to "placate" the people, offering to rebuild a small church in Klaipėda, or even permission to build a new one. The people in Klaipėda categorically refused such offers, demanding full redress for unjust actions by the government.
That same day, another delegation of about fifteen individuals came to the Council for Religious Affairs in Moscow. Among them were people from just about every Diocese of Lithuania: Juozas Kazalupskas, Petras Cidzikas, Petras Gražulis, Alfonsas Bumbulis, Saulius Kelpšas, Janina Judikevičiūtė, Aldona Raižytė, Robertas Grigas, Miss Žemaitytė, Miss Valaitytė and others. The delegation joined residents of Klaipėda in demanding the return of the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Klaipėda which had been unjustly seized and converted into a concert hall. They demanded that government atheists stop interfering in the internal affairs of the Church, allow His Excellency, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, to carry out his pastoral duties in the Archdiocese of Vilnius, cease terrorizing the bishops, stop interfering with young men freely enrolling in the seminary of Kaunas, the only one open in the entire republic; and discontinue the persecution being carried on by government officials (KGB, militia and teachers) against the faithful and especially the youth.
The official of the Office of the Council for Religious Affairs who received them acted especially courteously, something which is quite uncharacteristic in encounters of the faithful with government officials. He himself admitted that the confiscation at one time of Orthodox and Catholic churches and their conversion into warehouses and stables as well as their outright destruction, the supression of convents and monasteries, was a "black mark on the country's history". He expressed surprise and said he did not know on what basis the Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian S.S.R. had issued the order to close the church of Klaipėda, that in his opinion it was an obvious mistake but that it would probably be impossible to correct it by returning the confiscated church, for the government had as yet never returned anything except for one monastery in Russia, whose return had been an exception. This was followed by his earlier offer to agree to a reconstruction of the present church or erection of a new one.
Those who had come, just like the people of Klaipėda, would not agree to any alternatives and they demanded a complete correction of the mistake which even the official of the Office of the Council for Religious Affairs admitted. Taking his leave, the official mentioned that in Vilnius at that time, responsible officials of their office were visiting and were considering just that very question of the church of Klaipėda, so they would soon be receiving a reply. Regarding the crass interference of government officials in the internal affairs of the Church, the terrorizing of believing youth, they said in the office that they had heard nothing.
The next day (January 20), the aforesaid delegation which was joined by residents of Klaipėda, went to the reception room of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. Their arrival had been known ahead of time and they were expected. The delegation was received by Krygin, a responsible official of the Central Committee. Krygin could not believe it, and to put it mildly, pretended that he knew nothing about the persecution being carried on by the government against the faithful and the crass interference of the KGB in seminary affairs. And only when Petras Gražulis and Saulius Kelpšas successively described in a few works how they were being terrorized by the KGB for the seventh year and being prevented from enrolling in the seminary, did Krygin promise to give his attention to such "mistakes".
The representative of the Central Committee promised those who had come to give them an answer within one month regarding the question of returning the Queen of Peace Church in Klaipeda. The faithful told Krygin that they would continue to seek justice and to collect signatures on petitions until the church was returned.
As the interview was drawing to a close, the delegation drew the attention of the representative of the Central Committee of the Communist Party to the fact that the KGB in the republic and other government officials are preventing the faithful from appealing to the government on questions of concern to them and investigating and terrorizing those collecting signatures or signing protests. Some of them frightened by the threats of the chekists even repudiated their signatures. Those going to Moscow to meet with government officials are repeatedly detained and turned back, while those who come back are interrogated and threatened at KGB headquarters and terrorized at work.
Members of the delegation demanded that Representative Krygin of the Central Committee show concern for these "mistakes" of government officials, forbid such crass terrorizing of people and predicted that if it were not given suitable attention, in time, the same fate awaited them, who had dared to seek truth and justice.