FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE CHRONICLE
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
On August 7, 1968, the Rev. V. Šlevas, pastor of the parish in Adakavas, sent the following petition to Comrade Kosygin, chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR:
"The Lithuanian SSR is a country of believers. At present it has about three million inhabitants. About two million believe in God and make use of religious services. As a rule, neither the clergy nor the believers oppose the present form of government. (Diplomatic phraseology— ed.). The Lithuanians are industrious, conscientious, earnest, and friendly, as well as amenable; however, we are aware of certain restrictions and deficiencies on the part of some of the governmental representatives of our Republic. Therefore, I am appealing to you, Honorable Prime Minister, requesting your assistance and support in the name of all the priests and the believers:
1. There are about 800 churches served by the priests in the LSSR. Yet there remains but one seminary for six dioceses, whereas previously there were three. Only a limited number of seminarians—about thirty—are permitted to study at this sole seminary. Each year barely five or six priests are ordained. Of what significance is such a number for six dioceses? Between twenty-five and thirty priests die or leave their posts yearly because of ill health. Parishes suffer greatly when they lose their spiritual leaders. Such groundless limitation severely restricts the freedom of religion of the Catholics, thus violating the laws of the Soviet Union.
Moreover, the pertinent government officials interfere with the ordination of seminarians who have completed their studies. Our spiritual leaders are not allowed to perform the ceremony without official permission. (That is, ordain priests—ed.). This is intolerable; it is arbitrariness.
2. The churches of the LSSR have been electrified, the same as other buildings. It is still unclear to us why the church has to pay such a high fee for its electric power. Collective farmers pay four kopeks per kilowatt for their power; collective farms pay one kopek per kilowatt for the common use of electric power; the church, which is supported by these very same collective farmers, as well as other people, has to pay as much as twenty-five kopeks per kilowatt. We do not know the reasons behind this.
3. Lithuanian believers lack prayer books. Some are outdated; others have become worn out. A good prayer book (Liturginis maldynas [A liturgical prayer book] —ed.) has been readied for publication, and the permit for publication has been obtained, but its appearance has been repeatedly delayed for several years on the pretext that there is a paper shortage.
"I believe in your sincerity, your friendliness toward our nation and its believers. For this reason, we await your sincere assistance. We are convinced that the quota system limiting the number of candidates to the seminary will be abolished and that the payments for electricity will be equalized with those of the collective farmers, at four kopeks per kilowatt; we also sincerely believe that the prayer book will soon be published and will be allowed to circulate freely among the believers in Lithuania.
"Respectfully, gratefully, and hopefully,
The Rev. V. Šlevas"
A similar petition was sent to the USSR government by the Rev. Alfonsas Pridotkas, the pastor of the parish in Batakiai.
On October 5, 1968, the chairman of the Skaudvile locality informed Father Šlevas that on October 7 he was to call on Rugienis, the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs.
On October 7, both "culprits," the Rev. V. Šlevas and the Rev. Alfonsas Pridotkas went to see Rugienis, who greeted them angrily and berated and threatened them.
Soon after the "visit" with Rugienis, both priests were transferred to other parishes.
At the time when the clergy of Lithuania were first starting to send petitions to the Soviet government concerning the restrictions in Lithuania, both the priests and the believers in all of the dioceses supported the idea that it was necessary to fight for their faith. Many regretted that they had waited too long without taking any action.
THE DIOCESE OF KAlŠlADORYS
On October 26, 1973, Mykolas Jaudegis, organist of the parish in Jieznas was summoned before the Prienai Rayon Executive Committee. Its administrative commission (Chairman Stakenis, Vice-Chairman Arbačiauskas, Secretary Ramanauskas, and members [Mrs.] Mickiene and Švežauskas) fined him thirty rubles for "violating the laws governing religious cults." It turns out that children sing in the choir at the church in Jieznas and that is already a "serious crime."
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