The new "Gorbachev Era" is urging on the people by all means at its disposal the idea of the "great reorganization" based on a new way of thinking and acting. The inspirer and creator of this new re-ordering says himself that present times have "posed problems of undreamed novelty and unheard scope which must be solved in as short a span of history as possible."
Is this great "reorganization" not similar to the "great leaps forward" and "cultural revolutions", complete with quotations from Mao which have faded into historical oblivion, and which also were supposed to be carried out in a brief time.
However, all those movements born of megalomania are remembered today only as a bad dream which caught millions of people up in its dizzy spin. And who will count the meaningless sacrifices and the wrecked lives? Just as earlier, so the prime purpose and task of the contemporary movement is to attain complete unity of thought and action. That means to renounce one's own subjective thinking and individual outlook and to "switch" to a collective mechanism with compulsory programming. It is just like K. Saja's story, "Ninetroubles" ('Devynpėdziai'): To do nothing which displeases the ox: Not to sing, not to speak loudly, not to think for oneself, etc.
The all-union conference of social studies deans which took place in Moscow, October 1,1986, reeks of a new Maoism. On that occasion, Mikhail Gorbachev said that for the speedier implementation of restructuring and for the attainment of new conditions for Soviet society, it is essential to activate ideological theoretical activity; that is, in institutions of higher learning, to focus basic attention on the teaching of social studies (Marxism-Leninism, scientific Communism, party history, atheistic Communism, etc.). He went on to explain that the ability to keep one's bearings in today's complex and contradictory world is not a natural gift, it does not come about of itself by studying special disciplines. Hence, specialists of the future must be taught this ability since only social studies can form the spiritual underpinnings of the personality of the Soviet specialist. The teaching of social studies - that is the question of questions, (c.f. the quotations from Mao Tse Tung in Tire Morning Dawns Red)
The chief Communist Party ideologue, Yegor Ligachev, spoke along the same lines, inviting everyone to unity in word and work.
Nevertheless, regardless of all the fancy talk and ringing mottoes concerning unity, there is one section of the public with whom it is urged not to unite but to do battle, that is the believing public, especially the Catholic Church, and most of all the Catholic Church of Lithuania - that solitary outpost in the republics subjugated by the Communists.
On September 28,1986, the editorial in Pravda writes, "The most important task is to use all the forms and means of atheistic education to assemble a deep, offensive political content," (This means an offensive and not unity!) In the editorial, criticism is leveled against the fact that in some scientific works and works of literature and art, the life of the Church and Church ritual are idealized, and an attempt is being made to identify religious morality with the principles of socialist social virtue, and writers who sometimes "flirt" with God, objectively helping to revive ideas of God, are condemned.
Ligachev is offended because some Soviet people are beginning to talk about tolerating religious ideas and a return to the Tightness of religious decency. These values were created by the masses in their war against exploitation and against the wealthy. The proponents of religion oppose the materialistic world-view with all the means at their disposal. This is why they invented the myth that freedom of religion is being supressed in the Soviet Union. At times, religious accoutrements disguise bourgeious nationalism, for example, the activities of Islam, the Uniates and some Catholic clergy. As long as such phenomena recur, the Pravda editorial urges that all propagators of scientific atheism, all those who work in education, teachers, writers, artists, proponents of culture, all thinking workers, and above all, all Communists, be recruited for the war on religious ideology. Here of course must be added the basic arsenal for this war: press, television, radio, and also the most dependable apparatus of compulsion: the KGB, the militia, the prosecutorial apparatus, administrative organs, etc.
All these gigantic forces are gathered on one side of the barricade, the side of the attackers. And what is left on the other side of the barricade? Who is that dangerous enemy against which all the powers of earth and hell are drawn up? How is it to hold out against the ever-new and increasingly ruthless waves of assault?
Perhaps it would not hold out if it were not the Catholic Church, built on the rock of immortality, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, for it is defended and guarded by Jesus Christ, God, our refuge and our strength. All the trials experienced over six hundred years, the Catholic Church in Lithuania was able to bear only because it firmly believed in the mission of Christ here on earth, that Christ Himself abides with her. The rampaging of the Cal-vinist reformation, the threats of Czarism and activities of freethinkers and finally, the well-organized efforts of state atheism shatter against this immovable rock of strength.
Of course, it cannot be claimed that in this life-or-death struggle, the Church does not suffer losses. Some grow weary of the constant tension, while others shamefully retreat on account of their weak faith; some are paralyzed with fear for the uncertainty of the future, while others instinctively shirk suffering and sacrifice; some are unwilling to renounce their daily comforts, while others are infected by scepticism. This is natural and human.
However, the basic nucleus of the Church remains firm and unchanged. This is, as it were, that community of Christians confirmed and dedicated on the first Pentecost, to whom the way they have chosen and their purpose are clear. It is impossible to break and defeat such a person who, for love of the truth, does not shirk suffering, is not afraid even to sacrifice liberty or life. Nevertheless, there are those who call such individuals simple fools, for as the p st A. Drilinga writes, "Why agonize over the fact that an evil-doer has deceived a decent person, has spat into his heart, has trampled faith and hope, for all that occurs beyond you, not with you, does not effect you.... thus have sober-minded people spoken who may perhaps never know what suffering is..." Hence, atheism, knowing that it will not be able to overcome the defenders of Christ's Church by frontal assault, has called upon a method tested long ago by all totalitarian regimes: "Divide and conquer!"
One of these methods consists of calling for unity (a peculiar paradox), in order that, by the actions of certain leaders and clergy of the Catholic Church, they might break the resistance of zealous and loyal defenders of the faith to force and persecution, the bending of the Church to the state.
For that reason, proponents of "unity" are promised a variety of perquisites: a better and wealthier parish, appropriate titles, even a bishopric. As often happens in life, here too the human element has triumphed. Similar
Bishop Steponavičius (left) and Father Tamkevičius
co-workers of atheism have been found who publicly and privately have not missed an opportunity to criticize and even condemn activities of the Helsinki Group and the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, who have looked with undisguised opposition at the efforts of Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius, Juozas Zdebskis and others, to improve the prestige of the Church and of religion; they ignore and take offense even at Vatican Radio broadcasts and underground publications. And all this in the name of the good of the Church, the love of Christ and Christian unity, renouncing all conflict with representatives of the government. If only they had enough civic courage to admit that they represent only the atheist viewpoint, they would not have to hide their iscariotic actions under hypocritical arguments, and all "for a bit of gold, a spoon of tasty food".
The late Father Juozas Zdebskis
Could there be a truer copy of the Pharisees of Christ's time? The Pharisees condemned Christ to death, lest He incite a revolt which could provoke Roman acts of violence against the Jews and the synogogue. Today it is feared that the activities of the zealous defenders of the Faith might evoke great repressions of the clery and the Church. However, the loyal ones, regardless of painful sacrifices, in the face of the choice which has arisen — with whom and against whom? — have remained strong and unshakeable. How great a significance the solution of this problem of choice has had is shown by the following example, one of many.
In his time, when the implementation of atheistic "unity" began to bear fruit (a split among the priests), Father Pranciškus Masilionis, tormented by painful thoughts, tramped on foot seven kilometers through the snow and cold to a provincial backwater to visit Father Juozas Zdebskis and ask him, "Whose side are you on, Father Juozas?"
Upon hearing the reply, "I am with those to whom God, the Church and our ancestral land are dear, who are not afraid to risk freedom or life," he went back on foot, only now in high spirits, feeling neither fatigue nor unrest. After the blood of priests had run in the streets, and after many honorable men dedicated to God and country had been put in chains, it became clear that the Catholic Church in Lithuania and the Lithuanian nation would survive in this life or death struggle. The blood of martyrs and the suffering of the despised sanctify and strengthen every good effort.
And how does the atheist overlord value the effort of the proponents of that so-called unity? Is he grateful to them, or docs he just use their ignorance? To the on-looker, it does not seem that they are equal partners, or trustworthy allies (sometimes praised, it is true, allowed to visit the Vatican and to attend various conferences, and granted interviews with foreign journalists), it more likely reminds us of relations between slave-driver and slave, the strong and the weak. The differentiation of relations between each other, based on such principles do not give one either a policy or an advisory voice. Here there is only one iron-clad and merciless law: to do unconditionally what one is told, "what pleases the ox" (Devynbėdžiai). (sic)
The Creator made man free and inspired him with a yearning for goodness and truth. Our Savior showed us the horror of sin and redeemed mankind by His blood for eternal happiness and joy, for the most noble and loyal unity with the King of Heaven and Earth. Let us not, therefore, be tempted by false prophets, let us not become enamored of their deceitful and hypocritical invitations. Our unity is Christ! He alone is our Way, Truth and Life.
From: Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights Underground Group No. 7
To: Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
In 1987, the Catholic Church celebrates the 600 year jubilee of the baptism of Lithuania. It is obvious that every Catholic in Lithuania wants this anniversary to be celebrated solemnly. To this just desire of the Catholics of Lithuania, Soviet government officials are reacting by inciting a campaign of hatred and suspicion against the Catholic Church in Lithuania. Witness the angry provocative tone and the rudeness of atheistic articles appearing in the Soviet press.
At the beginning of 1986, the magazine Soviet Woman (Tarybinė moteris) published Vladas Balkevičius' article, "The Holy Family" ("Šventoji šeimyna"), full of calumnious inventions aimed at the persons of Jesus and Mary so dear to all Christians. Even though the author of the article knows well that the groundlessness of those calumnies is universally acknowledged, nevertheless he repeats those calumnies, wishing to demean and insult the faithful. Would not all Communists feel offended if someone proclaimed publicly in the press that the Communist Party was founded by a bastard, the son of a loose woman? This is how a Soviet magazine acts toward believers.
The shrine of the Mother of God at Šiluva is dear to all Lithuanian Catholics. The religious festivals which take place there attract crowds of worshippers by the thousands. After this year's festival at Šiluva, the weekly Literatura ir menas (Literature and Art) ran a long article in which crude fun is poked at the religious festival of Šiluva and its participants. It even goes so far as to call the sacrifice of the Mass, sacred to all Christians, a public advertisement for drunkenness.
In the Soviet press, priests who conscientiously carry out the important task placed upon them by Canon Law - to care for the catechization of children and youth — are crudely attacked. Deputy Petras Anilionis of the Council for Religious Affairs, in an article published October, 1986, in Valstiečių laikraštis (Peasants' Newspaper), not only attacks priests trying to carry out this duty, but he even cynically ridicules those priests who do not dare keep young priests from fulfulling this duty. How would the Communists react if the attempt were made to oblige the leadership of the Communist Party in some country to force its members not to keep Party rules? At the present time, this is how the Soviet government is acting with the Catholic priests of Lithuania.
September 30,1986, Tiesa (Truth) reprinted the Pravda editorial, "Developing Convinced Atheists". In this editorial, religion is called a lying system of beliefs from beginning to end, that is, any positive role for religion in society is categorically denied. The article urges war on religion using every means. And after publication of such an official editorial, Commissioner Petras Anilionis of the Council for Religious Affairs summons the bishops of Lithuania and demands that they sign a statement supporting Soviet government policy regarding the question of peace. What significance can the signatures of the bishops officially called "liars from beginning to end" have then under such a statement, unless it is to thoroughly demean the bishops and to ridicule them.
1. That the Commissioner discontinue such terrorizing of the bishops in Lithuania;
2. That the crude and calumnious atheist pre-jubilee propaganda through the mass media be stopped;
3. That the priests not be prevented from fulfilling the duty imposed on them by Canon Law in the area of religious education of children and youth;
4.That the other means of oppressing the Church which the government atheists have employed in preparation for the Lithuanian Christianity Jubilee be revoked and that the imprisoned zealous Lithuanian priests be released.