To: General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist
Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev Copies to: Bishops of Lithuania and Administrators of Dioceses From: Priests of the Diocese of Telšiai and the Prelature of Klaipeda
When, in 1976, the Regulations for Religious Associations were being prepared, the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church in Lithuania appealed to the Soviet government in writing, requesting that the Regulations be in conformity with Catholic Canon Law.
Unfortunately, no regard was paid to those wishes, and the Regulations ruling religious life in our country, were prepared exclusively by atheisti-cally oriented officials of the Soviet government.
Priests and faithful must abide by Canon Law. As citizens of the U.S.S.R., they must also keep Soviet law. But this is impossible, since the Constitution contradicts itself: While proclaiming the equality of all citizens, it immediately divides citizens into two classes: non-believers and believers.
Non-believers are granted the right to conduct atheistic propaganda, and believers — only to carry out religious worship.
In the desire to bring about true equality of believers and non-believers, atheism should also be separated from the government, just as the Church is. Atheism, like religion, should be private. Since at this time atheism is a government matter, the law of separation of Church and state is being broken by that very fact. It is being carried out unilaterally: the Church is not allowed to interfere in government affairs, while government officials interfere in the canonical activities of the Church.
They determine the age at which a person will practice his or her religion, they interfere in the Church's structure, requiring that the community of the faithful be led, not by the priests, but by government-approved laity. They determine the number of students for the seminary, they, in reality, see to clergy appointments, determine whether to allow churches to be constructed or not, remodelled or not, etc.
In a word, all Church activity is, in fact, regulated by atheists. It has reached the point that presently, a quarter of the parishes in Lithuania have been left without priests, families of believers have no access to any religious literature, except for prayerbooks and catechisms; for decades permission has not been given for repair of burned-out churches (Ryliškes, Batakiai, Gaurė, etc. In Batakiai, contrary to what is claimed in the press, to this day permission is not being given to reconstruct the church. Permission has been given to erect an extension to the belfry.) The Church of the Queen of Peace in Klaipeda, built by the faithful of Klaipeda, is still not being returned.
Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Klaipėda.
Even the highest government officials do not acknowledge the equality of believers and atheists. In official speeches, they demand more active struggle against religion, the strengthening of atheistic propaganda. In the present circumstances, it is impossible even to dream that someone in government would speak for the benefit of the faithful.
High school students who are believers, all the more those who hold positions, are in spite of official denials, in fact the victims of discrimination.
Therefore, we request that the inequality of rights of Soviet citizens, on the basis of ideology, be abolished.
Signed by the following priests,
Vincas Vėlavičius Jonas Gedvilą Adolfas Pudžėmys Vytautas Sadauskas Bronislovas Latakas Česlovas Godliauskas Antanas Šimkus Petras Linkevičius Pranas Venckus Vincentas Gauronskis Albinas Arnašius
Telšiai, February 2, 1988
Klemensas Arlauskas Petras Palšis Jonas Bučelis Antanas Garjonis Antanas Jurgaitis Ignacas Žeberskis Anupras Gauronskas Antanas Šeškevičius Juozas Šiurys Antanas Gylys Jonas Paulauskas Antanas Striukis Petras Puzaras Jonas Boruta Stanislovas Ilinčius Bronius Bradžius Juozapas Rutalė Boleslovas Jonauskas Juozapas Pačinskas Kazimieras Žukas Bronislovas Burneikis Henrikas Sirtautas Vytautas Motekaitis Adomas Alminas Petras Merliūnas Liudvikas Šarkauskas Antanas Petronaitis Petras Našlėnas Klemensas Puidokas Petras Jasas Jonas Kusas Zenonas Degutis Vladas Šlevas Juozapas Grabauskas Jonas Kauneckas Juozapas Širvaitis Juozapas Maželis Aloyzas Volskis Juozapas Miklovas Jonas Vičiulis Stanislovas Anužis Konstantinas Jadviršis Jonas Rudzinskas Vincentas Klebonas Juozas Šukys Ferdinandas Žilys Algis Genutis Liudas Dambrauskas Kazimieras Gaščiūnas Edmundas Atkočiūnas Alfonsas Pridotkas Zigmas Šimkus Petras Stukas Bernardas Talaišis Henrikas Šulcas Feliksas Valaitis Vytautas Mikutavičius Kazimeiras Prialgauskas Antanas Ivanauskas Konstantinas Vėlioniškis Albertas Pranskaitis Antanas Augustis Julius Tamošauskas Juozapas Janauskas Juozapas Bukauskas Jonas Bučinskas Petras Bernotas Stanislovas Letukas Petras Venckus Vytautas Žvirzdinas Romualdas Žulpa Bronius Racevičius Kazimieras Rimkus Antanas Bunkus Liudas Serapinas Leonas Veselis Aloyzas Orantas Stanislovas Ežerinskas Vytautas Petrauskas Jonas Petrauskis Julijonas Miškinis Algirdas Pakamanis Tadas Knipavičius
To: General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party
of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev From: Catholics of Lithuania
While celebrating, in 1987, the 600-year anniversary of the Baptism of Lithuania, we were saddened by not being able to celebrate this jubilee, so special to us, in the historic Cathedral of Vilnius, on that spot where the baptism of the Lithuanians began, and where the earthly remains of Vytautas the Great, one of those who baptized Lithuania, rest.
The Cathedral of Vilnius, the center for the Catholics of Lithuania and a church of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, was converted into an art gallery and concert hall over thirty-five years ago. In preparation for the Millenium of the Baptism of Russia, the Orthodox believers had the Monastery of Danilov in Moscow returned.
We request that in commemoration of the 600 jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania, our national shrine, the Cathedral of Vilnius, be returned to us also.
From the parishes of Kaunas:
Cathedral - 893 (approximately 300 signatures confiscated by the KGB)
Šančiai - 880
Vytautas - 700
Other parishes - 5280 Panevėžys Cathedral - 3485 Žemaičių Kalvarija - 3577 Leipalingis -1193 Valkininkai - 863 Kapčiamiestis - 530 Miroslavas -174 Šakiai -1095 Lukšiai - 364 Sasnava - 222 Gižai -135 Višakio Rūda - 742 Kybartai - 784 Alksnėnai - 868 Kulautuva - 260 Seredžius - 443 Veliuona - 455 Girdžiai -160 Jonava - 989
Kretinga - 220 Kavarskas - 600 Other parishes - 6358
To: General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party
of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev Copy to: The Procurator General of the U.S.S.R. From: Catholics of Lithuania
We are shocked by the brutal judicial treatment of the young Catholic man, Petras Gražulis, carried out February 2, 1988, in the Peoples' Court of Kapsukas. Gražulis refused to report for special military training, arguing that his Christian conscience did not allow him to participate in an army which is spilling innocent blood in Afghanistan, which has occupied his homeland, Lithuania, and defends atheistic ideology persecuting the Church. The court acknowledged his refusal, dictated by beliefs on principle, as "refusal to report for military training because of selfish interests without serious reason."
To ridicule a person's conscientious convictions, all the more to accuse a young man of selfishness, the young man going even to prison on account of his beliefs, is inhumane and amoral. In other socialist countries, the possibility of alternative service is considered and granted to individuals unable on account of consicentious or religious beliefs to serve in the army bearing arms.
We demand that such a possibility be provided in the Soviet Union, and that Petras Gražulis be immediately released.
Panevėžys (SS. Peter and Paul) - 3307
Valkininkai - 851
Šiauliai (St. George) -1653
Šiauliai (SS. Peter and Paul) -1402
Jurbarkas - 595
Kėdainiai - 869
Pasvalys - 571
Rokiškis - 920
Kupiškis - 807
Ukmergė - 724
Anykščiai - 763
Pakruojis and Rozalimas - 473 Girdžiai -168
Eišiškės - 84 Pumpėnai -180 Krinčinas - 243 Gižai -127
Naujamiestis (Panevėžys Rayon) - 295
Kavarskas - 715
Žemaičių Kalvarija - 3475
Kapčiamiestis - 518
Kybartai - 736
Alksnėnai - 947
Lukšiai - 357
Sasnava - 236
Veliuonas - 457
Seredžius - 449
Kulautuva - 260
Other parishes - 5658
To: General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Central Committee of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev Copy to: Bishops of Lithuania From: Catholics of Lithuania
During the night of April 2-3,1982, Soviet government officials vandalized a memorial dear to the believing public, Maiden Hill, in the Village of Pas -ruojas, Rayon of Telšiai. The atheists demolished the Chapel of Mary which had stood there, smashed the statues and destroyed crosses which had been erected.
Maiden Hill has been revered by the believing public since 1626. At that time, soldiers of the Swedish Army which had overrun Lithuania massacred on Maiden Hill young women who would not submit to being despoiled by the soldiers. Out of respect for their chastity, the people erected a chapel and many crosses in honor of these martyrs. Worshippers used to visit the spot.
After the barbaric vandalizing of the hill in 1982, the faithful have tried more than once to restore the crosses, but Soviet government officials immediately demolished them and terrorized those who erected the crosses.
We request that the General Secretary direct Soviet government officials that on Maiden Hill, the demolished chapel and crosses be restored, and that worshippers not be prevented from visiting this historic location.
Žemaičių Kalvarija - 3594 Valkininkai - 853 Leipalingis -1198 Lukšiai - 359 Pilviškiai - 445 Višakio Rūda - 473 Kapčiamiestis - 513 Šakiai -1048 Kapsukas - 3128
Seredžius - 441 Veliuona - 500 Kulautuva - 265 Sasnava - 218
To: Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Klaipėda Rayon, A. Leita
Director of the Laugaliai Hospice of the L.S.S.R. Ministry of Social Welfare From: Father Antanas Šeškevičius Residing at: Gargždiai Tilto 1-2
Since I am obliged to care for the faithful in the Laugaliai Hospice regarding their religious needs, I request that you guarantee religious liberty to believers living at the hospice, and to me as a priest, in accordance with Par. 49 of the Regulations for Religious Associations: "Rights of religious worship are to be carried out in separate facilities at the request of dying or seriously ill individuals confined to hospitals."
At the hospice, to date, there is no religious freedom, but rather Stalinist terror:
1.Those seriously ill do not have the right to summon a priest even through their ill and weak comrades, whereas the administration of the hospice itself should convey to the priest the wish of the patient making the request, at least by telephone. Simple humaneness would require this.
2.If the friend of a sick little old lady requests the administration to summon a priest, they do not allow it, especially Assistant Director J. Dotienė and the nurses. Obviously, the director of the hospice condones their behavior.
3.When permission is not given, patients are obliged to summon the priest clandestinely. Then the administration creates a furor and penalizes the invalid old lady who summoned the priest: Not only scolding and threatening her, but also removing her outer garments so that prevented from going out, she would not summon the priest again. As if that were not enough, they beat her.
On April 11 of this year, Nurse Aldona Stokorienė beat Gražina Mažrimaitė because on April 10, she summoned me to the bedside of a seriously ill elderly lady. While I was still in the hospice, she threatened her, "You're going to get it!..."
4. They blame the priest for not coordinating his visit with the administration of the hospice. According to the Regulations, a patient's request suffices, and the administration is supposed to conform to these regulations since they are, after all, a directive of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. A priest, even when secretly summoned, has the right and the duty to go to a patient.
When, on April 10, Miss Mažrimaitė summoned me to an ailing old lady, Nurse Stokorienė terrorized the patient in such a way that the latter said that she was afraid to receive the sacraments because the nurse would punish her for it, even though previously, she had asked with tears in her eyes that a priest be summoned. When I told her that I have the right to accomodate her, the patient calmed down.
Nurse Stokorienė ran into the room, trying to prevent me, but I would not listen to her. The other old ladies who wanted to take advantage of the priest's visit to take care of their religious needs, Mrs. Stokorienė chased out.
So, does it make sense to "coordinate" when the administration and staff do not abide by the directives of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet? This has been going on since the days of Stalin, and no one takes it upon himself to straighten things out; on the contrary, they support the anti-religious terrorism of the hospice administration.
5. The administration requires that the priest who comes minister to the patients only in the room on the first floor assigned for this purpose; patients from other sections and floors must assemble only there. It is forbidden to minister to them in the wards. Yet there are patients who do not rise from their beds, while others can barely leave the ward. And these are the majority. For those confined to bed and those barely able to walk, to go down to the first floor is practically impossible; they are condemned to be sick and die without religious rites. This is not religious freedom, but bondage.
The arrangement in the Gargždai and Klaipėda hospitals is sensible; ambulatory patients leave the ward, and the priest ministers to the patient for whom he was summoned and to other patients who come one by one into the ward (which also happens to be isolated).
The faithful in the Laugaliai Hospice also take care of matters more sensibly than the directorate: on each floor, and in corpus, they free up a ward where people come in one by one to see the priest. A seriously ill patient need not be troubled by carrying them or wheeling them down to the first floor.
6. I am blamed for heeding the summonses from the ailing elderly Miss Mažrimaitė. She transmits information accurately and the patients are happy with her; otherwise the hospice administration would isolate believing patients completely from the priests. Obviously, if the administration of the hospice itself informed the priest, patients would not have to be inconvenienced.
7. According to the Regulations, the frequency of visits to the patient is determined by the requests from the hospitals themselves, and not the atheistic administration, on account of whose restrictions many patients have already died without benefit of the sacraments, even though they asked that a priest be summoned. I suggest that a priest be allowed to visit the hospice at least once a month; then there will be no danger of patients dying without the sacraments.
Conclusions. In accordance with the Regulations for Religious Associations, I request:
1. That the patients themselves, or their nurses' aides, summon the
priest by telephone;
2. Not to terrorize the patients or those who summon the priest to see them;
3.To allow priests to visit the hospice every month, the priests to inform the administration of their coming by telephone;
4.To allow the priest to administer to weak patients and for others to free up a separate room;
5.To allow all believing patients in the hospice to receive the sacraments when the priest comes to visit those seriously ill;
6.To allow stronger patients wishing to do so, to go to church on Sundays;
7.Not to interfere in the burial of the deceased who are believers, with the rites of the Church.
Note: With the administration of the hospice continuing to restrict the religious freedom of the faithful, recourse will be made to higher instances and to General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. Does such harassing of the poor patients conform with his policy of restructuring?
Elena Budautienė and Miss Baselė saw Mrs. Stokorienė beating little old Miss Mažrimaitė. Only it is unclear whether they would have enough nerve to testify to it in public. Mrs. Stokorienė has beaten Miss Mažrimaitė earlier, also.
I enclose a copy of a petition from Janina Riaukaitė to the director of the hospice: She also complains that the nurses persecute her as a believer and allow client Rimša to beat her with his fist.
Together with Mrs. Dotienė, and Mrs. Stokorienė, believing clients of the hospice are persecutos terrorized by Head Nurse Kuprelienė. For written complaints, they are 'threatening ejection and other measures while Par. 47 of the Constitution of the Lithuanian S.S.R. emphasizes, "Persons engaging in persecution for criticism are criminally responsible."
To: General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev Copy to: Procurator General of the U.S.S.R. From: The Gražulis Family
Residing in Alytus Rayon
On February 2, 1988, the Peoples' Court of Kapsukas sentenced a member of our family, Petras Gražulis, to ten months deprivation of freedom for failing to report for military exercises. It pains us that an individual's convictions in the religious and national area - refusing to serve in the army - were considered by the court to be an argument not worthy of attention. Even more painful is the fact that the Soviet court treats Petras Gražulis' behavior in defense of his beliefs - resolved even to go to prison - as a crime committed in pursuit of selfish ends. We protest against such an amoral and anti-humane formulation of the court's decision.
We, the relatives of Petras Gražulis, who were present in the courtroom, were shocked by the officials' treatment of the defendant, after the verdict was read. According to Par. 267 of the Code of Criminal Procedures, one who has been sentenced has the right to make comments for the court record: The Commentary on the Code of Criminal Procedures of the Lithuanian, S.S.R., Vilnius, Minds, 1976, 288 pps., explains: "After announcement of the court's decision, the defendant has the right of requesting the individual presiding to explain to him the essence of the decision."
So the defendant has the right to say something even after the reading of the decision. However, the defendant, Petras Gražulis, had barely opened his mouth when some officials in civilian garb leaped to him and clamped their hands over his mouth. This fact is corroborated even by an article by K. Bagdonavičius, published in the February 27, 1988 issue of Tiesa, entitled, "How Events" and "Histories" are made.
When Petras Gražulis resisted, they began beating him in sight of his relatives and spectators in court as a result of which blood gushed from the defendant's nose. Later, during visits from his brothers and sisters, Gražulis explained that during the struggle in the courtroom, officials sprayed his face and mouth with some chemicals which paralyzed his faculty of speech. The officials, taping him by his hands and feet, carried the bloodied Petras Gražulis from the courtroom. Is such behavior on their part not a crude breach of justice, carried out in the courtroom in full view of the defenders of justice, the judges?
On April 7-13, 1988, in the newspaper Gimtasis kraštas, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Lithuanian S.S.R., General S. Lisauskas, stated that no one beat Gražulis. We relatives of Petras Gražulis who were in the courtroom, declare that this is not true; Gražulis was beaten in our sight.
We protest against the unjustified behavior of the officials, and we demand that L.S.S.R. Internal Affairs Minister S. Lisauskas retract his unjustified statement. Immediately after the trial, the Kapsukas Rayon newspaper, Naujasis kelias (New Road), February 18, 1988, printed R. Liepa's article, "Again, the Same People...". In it the trial is described but the real reasons for Gražulis's behavior on account of which he refused to report for military training, are supressed.
We, relatives of Petras Gražulis, were offended by statements in the article attributed to the defendant's mother, Monika Gražulienė. This story recalls methods used to obtain "confessions" during the period of Stalin's rule. On January 7, 1988, the Alytus Rayon, Miroslav District representative of the Internal Affairs Militia came to visit Petras Gražulis's mother. After speaking angrily about the up-coming trial, he drafted a text which he told Mrs. Gražulienė to sign. The latter, frightened, and not knowing what to do, signed.
On January 9, 1988, in a petition to L.S.S.R. Defense Minister Jazov, Mrs. Gražulienė retracted her signature, but to journalist R. Licpa, the aforesaid document — drafted by a militia agent — was a goldmine for absurd accusations againt Petras Gražulis: allegedly, he had not been helpful at home, either, and he found routine work boring, and that he had sought notoriety by getting involved in activities with "political overtones".
In these days of restructuring, the Supreme Court has condemned the Stalinist practice of accusing those on trial on the basis of "statements'' illegally extracted during interrogation. It is precisely in this manner that correspondent Liepa of the Kapsukas Rayon newspaper supports accusations brought against Petras Gražulis. We demand also that Licpa retract the calumnies aimed at Petras Gražulis in his article.
Marytė Jasulaitienė - Kaunas, Draugystės 9-10 Angelė Gražulytė - Kaunas, Draugystės 9-10 Albina Gražulytė - Alytus Rayon, Mankūnų kaimas Valė Gražulytė - Alytus Rayon, Draugystės 9-10 Antanas Gražulis - Alytus, Margytės 14 Monika Baciuškienė - Alytus, Šviesos 4 Algis Baciuška - Alytus, Šviesos 4 Juozas Jasulaitis - Kaunas, Draugystės 9-10 Kazys Gražulis - Šiauliai, Komjaunimo 17-2 Ona Venskunienė - Kapsukas, Angariečio 113-507 Monika Gražulienė - Alytus Rayon, Mankūnų kaimas Regina Gražulytė - Alytus Rayon, Mankūnų kaimas Povilas Gražulis - Alytus Rayon, Mankūnų kaimas