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Tliis issue is dedicated to Father Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis, back in Lithuania after three years of imprisonment in the Soviet Gulag.
In this issue:
Lithuania........................................ November 1,1987
The bishops and deans of Lithuania were summoned to the Supreme Soviet for a meeting at 11:00 A.M., September 17, 1987, with leaders of the Republic, the first meeting at such a level in post-war history. It evoked contradictory thoughts from everyone: What is it? A still more refined trick? Or the Soviet restructuring bo much in fashion among us? You be the judge-Participating in the meeting were four bishops of Lithuania and a significant number of the deans. Invitations were not received by the exiled Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius or by Bishop Romualdas Krikščiūnas. (Bishop Steponavičius is prevented by the government from functioning as Apostolic Administrator of Vilnius, and Bishop Romualdas Krikščiūnas resigned his post in 1983. - Trans. Note) Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius, shaken by the attacks on him from government officials September 13 in Šiluva, was ill, and so did not come to the meeting. The Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, Father Algirdas Gutauskas, was visiting Poland at the time at the instigation of the government.
The Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian S.S.R., R. Sungaila, began the meeting with his report. For a good half hour, he gave the representatives of the Church an explanation, "of the economic and cultural achievements of the republic on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the October Socialist Revolution, about the process of restructuring going on in the republic, about ways of deciding new social questions and their perspectives." The report was boring, in the style of newspaper propaganda.
To: The Esteemed Mrs. Coretta King
Sincere Christian thanks to you who, continuing the work of your honorable husband, that great champion of human rights, Martin Luther King, Jr., support Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, a son of our Christian homeland, who is wearing the shackles of imprisonment for that same sacred cause of human rights. By way of thanking you, we are resolved to support you with our prayers. We ask Almighty God to bless you, your family and the cause you defend.
The Faithful of Lithuania
Several months have passed since some unusual events for the Church of Lithuania: the principal celebrations of the 600-year jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania and the proclamation of Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis as Blessed. With the passage of time, the thoughts of many return to the celebration, once again experiencing the holiday spirits and recalling those things which dimmed the joy of the aforesaid celebration.
The faithful of Lithuania had hoped that the Soviet government would allow our Holy Father, John Paul II, to come to the jubilee celebration, at least for a brief visit. However, the government acknowledges this right — of inviting the Pope to a jubilee — to the Russian Orthodox Church alone; in their day the latter took advantage of the Czar's favor. The Soviet government, it appears, continues the old traditions of the Russian Empire. Of all the religions in the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church is exceptionally privileged!
This tendancy is quite apparent also in the "gift" of the Soviet government to the jubilee of the baptism of Lithuania - the publication titled The Church in Lithuania, published by Minds Publishers. When the Bishops' Conference of Lithuania refused churches in Lithuania without including a picture of the main church in Lithuania, the Cathedral of Vilnius (converted into an art gallery), the government itself took on the editing and publication of this book.
In the history of mankind, there have been many international treaties. Some of them have been honorable, opening the road to peace and independent life for nations; others were dishonorable, helping to incite war and suppress the freedom of other nations. We will probably not find a more dishonorable or deceitful compact in history than that between Stalin and Hitler which brought mankind to its most terrible catastrophe, World War II, which exacted millions of innocent victims.
By secret supplementary protocols to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 23,1939, Stalin's Soviet Union and Hitler's Germany, trampling on international law, bilaterally blessed one another's imperialist aims, coordinated their up-coming actions and drew the boundaries for carrying out the seizure of the independent countries of Central Europe.
In this way the Soviet Union, which considered and still considers the free self-determination of nations as its propaganda vehicle, and which was the first country in the world to recognize the independence of the Baltic States in 1920, repudiated its international obligations and in 1939, occupied part of Poland and in 1940, part of Finland, all of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and part of Roumania.
To: Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union Copies to: Bishops of Lithuania From: Priests and Faithful of Lithuania
Twenty-six years ago, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, was exiled from Vilnius by order of organs of the Soviet government and forceably settled outside the boundaries of the archdiocese in Žagarė. The bishop was punished for adhering to Canon Law, refusing to ordain unsuitable candidates to the priesthood and refusing to forbid priests to carry out one of their most important duties, that of teaching catechism to children; remove minors from the altar and from processions, as required by the civil government of those days.
For refusal to carry out these requirements, the bishop was punished by the civil government without any trial to an indeterminate sentence not provided in the Criminal Code.
Kybartai (Vilkaviškis Rayon)
On August 5,1986, Birutė Briliūtė of Čepajevo skg.19, Kybartai, was summoned to Vilnius by Investigator Reinys. During the interrogation, the chekist presented her with a whole list of questions concerning the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 73. He demanded that she explain why certain articles in Chronicle No. 73 were similar in content, and in some cases identical, to manuscripts and typescripts confiscated at Miss Briliot6's apartment during the raid of May 6,1987. Miss Briliūtė replied that everything taken from her was lying in KGB safes since March 6, so the KGB would have to take responsibility for what happened to them. The interrogation lasted about three hours. Miss Briliūtė refused to sign the record of interrogation.
On September 8,1987, a search was carried out of the living quarters and storage areas belonging to Ona Šarakauskaitė, Birutė Briliūtė and Ona Kavaliauskaitė, all residing at Cepajevo skg. 19. In charge of the search were Vilnius KGB agents V. Baumila and A. Stepučinskas. Besides the individuals mentioned, there were some chekists involved in the search who did not give their names. During the search they seized: a typewriter, an extra typing element and some books — five of them purely religious in content — carbon paper, etc.
Father Alfonsas Svarinskas writes:
"...At about 2 o'clock in the morning on Good Friday, we arrived at the new place. In quarantine two weeks, I think that before Low Sunday I shall see my new companions. The journey took fifteen days, but I was on the road only six days, and spent seven days in Yaroslavl' and two days in the prison at Perm.
"I left springtime behind in the homeland, and here, it's still winter. There is much snow. Yesterday and today, I volunteered to clear snow. The trip back was rather tiring. There is physical filth in the jails and railroad cars, but much worse is the moral filth: the most horrible profanity, 75% of their speech consists of profanity!
"From Yaroslavl', I was alone in the compartment, so I had the opportunity to pray. Discovering that I was a priest, something I never concealed, soldiers and prisoners showed a measure of respect. How strange, many are proud of saying, 'I'm a thief!' or 'I'm a drug addict!'...
"My first impressions of my new location are good. I was given two white sheets, a pillow with a pillow slip, a clean blanket and even a radio. But this is Holy Week, so I'll enjoy the music after Easter.
"I am well. For everything I thank God and all of you who support me with your letters, prayer and good words. May the Risen Christ repay you all with eternal life!"
On the evening of July 15,1987, Cardinal Jaime Sin arrived in Vilnius from Riga. Even though officially nothing had been announced about it in advance, the Cardinal and his party were greeted in the churchyard of St. Nicholas by young people in folk dress and a numerous group of the faithful.
One girl presented the Prince of the Church with a white rosebud and explained that this was a gift of the imprisoned priests. The guest respectfully kissed the thorny stem of the rose to the accompaniment of the tumultuous applause of the assembly.
The young people presented flowers to the cardinal's companions, Lithuanian and Filippino clergy. For about an hour, as long as the guests were in the chancery, the faithful did not disperse. In the St. Nicholas churchyard, the young people's religious hymns rang out: "Marija, Marija" and "Lietuva Bran-gi" ("Beloved Lithuania"). The Lithuanian national anthem was sung.
As a sign of the unity of the Universal Church, those assembled recited aloud the Pater Noster, Ave Maria and Gloria Patri. When His Eminence reappeared on the steps with his party, the faithful greeted him with ringing, triple "Mabuhai, Cardinal!" (In Tagalog, "Long live the Cardinal!"), and shouts in Latin, "Vivat Lituania libera et catolica!" ("Long live Lithuania, free and Catholic!") Moved, the guest blessed everyone assembled in the churchyard. For a long time, unabating applause accompanied Cardinal Jaime Sin.
Criminal Case Number 15678
Initiated February 21,1949, in the Lithuanian S.S.R. State Ministry of Security, Division A.
Decision to arrest
Benediktas Andriuška, son of Jonas. Born 1884, in a peasant-bourgeoise family in the Village of Vilkaičiai,
County of Alsėdžiai, District of Telšiai (sometimes noted as
Bernatavas, Lieplaukė). The family had 40 hectares of land. Advanced education, theological. No permanent address or occupation. The father died in 1907, the mother, Eleanora, in 1917. Also deceased are eleven brothers and sisters.
I found that he has been working against the Soviet government for a long time. He finished the School of Theology at the Papal University in England, 1917-1919-1923, he received information and conveyed it to English and Polish intelligence. With the assistance of the German Provincial, Bley, and the German espionage resident, Kipp, he organized the Jesuit order in Lithuania in 1923, and headed it until 1945. He edited 77ie Star, worked on the magazine Cathlicism and Life, and published articles against the Soviet government. He was the author of many of anti-Soviet books and founder of organizations.
During a raid July 16, 1948, anti-Soviet literature, manuscripts and a diary of an anti-Soviet nature were found. In 1947, he regularly gave sermons of an anti-Soviet nature. Living illegally. District of Telšiai. Searches to be made and he is to be arrested.
In the western regions of Ukraine, the activity of the Catholic (Uniate) Church has increased. Compared to former years, the faithful, adults as well as children, are going to church increasingly often. At the same time, the persecution of the faithful by the atheistic government has increased. This is evidenced by the terrorizing of priests and the numerous fires at functioning and nonfunctioning churches. Here are a few examples:
In May, 1987, for offering Mass, fines were imposed on Fathers Ivan Senkiw (Son of Josef), Father Vasilyk and Taras Senkiw. Confiscated from them were bibles, all liturgical vestments and church vessels (chalice, paten, etc.)
In June, they fined young Father Senkiw four times, up to 100 rubles. The KGB warned him that these were the last fines; that in the future, arrest would follow. Two days leter, a search followed. From Father Senkiw, they confiscated a newly acquired bible, liturgical vestments, a chalice and crucifix, and the priest himself they interrogated.
In the Cities of Buchach and Borchshev, in the Region of Ternopil, where Uniates assemble to pray, they are regularly dispersed by an operative group of auxiliary police on alert. The auxiliaries act unacceptably in the churches, relentlessly vandalizing them.