In this Issue: CONCERNS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA
ARBITRARINESS OF THE COURT IN VILNIUS
OPEN LETTER BY THE REV. PRANAS RAČIŪNAS
FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCHIN LITHUANIA
Struggle for Survival
CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA No. 10
CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA
The aims of the atheists regarding the Church do not change— they want to destroy it at all costs.
In the Stalinist era the idea was to destroy the Church physically. In 1946 arrests of bishops and priests began. In 1947, Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius was shot. In 1953, Archbishop Mečislovas Reinys, sentenced to twenty-five years, died in Vladimir Prison. In 1956, after ten years of concentration camp, Bishop Pranciškus Ramanauskas and Archbishop Teofilius Matulionis returned to Lithuania broken in health, but they were forbidden to exercise their office, and before long both died.
In 1956-57, hundreds of priests returned from concentration camp to resume their apostolic labors. The atheistic government began to realize that the Catholic Church of Lithuania will not be broken by repressions. Those who had died in concentration camp were considered martyrs, and some of them are even objects of religious devotion, e.g., Father T. B. Andruška, S.J.
Nikita Krushchev's "gallant" Chekists in 1957-58 again arrested no small number of priests: Father Petras Rauda, Canon Stanislovas Kiškis, Father T. A. Markaitis, S.J., Father Algirdas Močius, Father Jonas Balčiūnas, Father Antanas Jurgaitis, Father Antanas Bunkus, Father A. Svarinskas, Father Pranas Adomaitis, M.I.C. (who had worked among German Catholics in Siberia), and Father Petras Jakulevičius.
The security organs have currently developed a broad campaign, hoping to destroy theChronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and centers of religious literature: Persons under suspicion are summoned before the State Security Committee, searches are conducted, the numbers arrested are growing, and material is carefully being gathered for Case No. 345.
On March 20, 1974, the security people searched the apartment of the Ukrainian priest, Vladas Pigolis, in Kaunas. The search took six hours. The security agents went through books, damaged religious images, and seized all his savings.
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On March 20, 1974, a search was conducted at the home of Kaunas resident (Miss) Bronė Kazėlaitė, at No. 4 Vaistinė g. During the search she was stripped in the presence of a female security agent. The security agents, having searched her room and storage area, seized about 400 unbound copies of the prayerbook "Melskimės" (Let Us Pray), and several books reproduced by typewriter.
March 17, 1974, Tiesa (Truth: Lithuanian version of Pravda— Translator's Note) published an article entitled "Whose Voice?", describing the trial in Vilnius of five persons. The article did not indicate when the trial occurred, or how the accused were sentenced, but only mentioned their alleged criminal offenses: They were supposed too have stolen typewriters, work of folk art, and church vessels. From the article it was apparent that the trial was political in nature.
March 27, 1973, security organs carried out a well planned action against ethnographers of Lithuania and Latvia, possibly comparable in scope and method to the analogous attack on the publishers and disseminators of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. At eight o'clock that morning, over one hundred ethnographers and their associates were brought to the offices of the Security Committee. Searches were carried out and people were arrested. The most active ethnographers, R. Matulis of Vilnius, (Miss) J. Eitmanavičiūtė of Kaunas, and others, were forced to sign pledges "that in the future they will not engage in independent ethnography."
Younger ethnographers were forced to cooperate with security organs and were subjected to black-mail. The ethnographers were interrogated by Kontrimas, Radzevičius, Aleinikov, Rimkus, Žilevičius, Sujuta, and others. Those under interrogation were questioned about activities of the ethnographers, the expedition to the Šventoji River, connections with ethnographers in other republics, attitudes among young people, about the collecting of material from the period of the "Greenie" wars (Lithuanian partisan activity against the Soviets 1944-52 — Transl. Note), dissemination of leaflets, the organizing of the annual commemoration of Kalanta (Romas Kalanta, who immolated himself in 1972, protesting Soviet opression of Lithuania — Transl. Note), the reading and dissemination of anti-Soviet literature, the personality and attitudes of Žukauskas and others under arrest, relationships with them, connections with Father Mykolas Dobrovolskis of Paberžė and others.
DIOCESE OF PANEVĖŽYS
At eleven o'clock on the morning of March 7, 1974, Canon Petras Rauda died at Svėdasai. He had been born in 1894 in Radviliškis. The father of the late priest had been a booksmuggler (During the Czarist interdict against Lithuanian literature, 1864-1904 —Transl. Note), and he himself had occasion to "take tutoring" (Studying Lithuanian clandestinely — Trans. Note).
Becoming a priest in 1917, he performed his duties faithfully all his life. As an assistant pastor in Joniškis, he contributed much to the birth of the Republic of Lithuania. For many years, he served as a chaplain at various places in Lithuania. Serving as pastor in Utena, he saved the lives of several citizens of Jewish nationality. In 1944 Bishop Kazimieras Paltarokas elevated him to the position of Honorary Canon and appointed him vicerector of the Theological Seminary of Kaunas.
During the post-war years he was harassed by security organs and sentenced to eight years in prison, because knowing of the memorandum directed abroad, prepared by P. Klimas, Mrs. Lastienė, and others, he had not informed the security people.
DIOCESE OF VILKAVIŠKIS
Paluobiai Open Letter:
Honorable Senior Instructor at the Kapsukas State University of Vilnius, A. Augas:
In the March 1, 1974 issue of Kauno Tiesa (Kaunas Truth), No. 31, in your article, "Behold the Cassocked Friends of the People," you write:
"In the beginning of 1945 Bishop Bučys, urged by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Montini (the present Pope Paul VI) assigned the priest Pranas Račiūnas to gather intelligence data about the Red Army.
"Račiūnas was supposed to hand on the information to the Vatican spy Laberge, then in Moscow, he to the Vatican, and the Vatican, to U.S. Intelligence. Račiūnas, firmly believing that the Americans would liberate Lithuania, eagerly served them."
In your article, you do not mention that I was imprisoned for twenty-five years without trial. You do not indicate the true reason for my confinement. Here it is:
In 1947 in Lithuania, the Bishop of Telšiai, Vincentas Borisevi-čius, his auxiliary, Bishop Pranciškus Ramanauskas, and the Bishop of Kaišiadorys, Teofilius Matulionis, has already been arrested. The danger loomed that the dioceses of Lithuania would be left without bishops. The bishop of Panevėžys, Kazimieras Paltarokas, according to Canon Law, could not consecrate new bishops without permission of the Vatican. The bishop had no direct way of contacting the Vatican. For this reason, upon orders of my spiritual superiors, I went to Moscow to visit Father Laberge, Chaplain at the U.S. embassy, to request that he obtain the pope's permission to consecrate new bishops for Lithuania. On my arrival in Moscow, I obtained written permission from the local militia to live temporarily in Father Laberge's quarters. This request of mine was the basic reason for my imprisonment.
DIOCESE OF TELŠIAI
In the fall of 1973, Engineer Paplauskas erected a traditional shrine for the Suffering Christ in the church-yard of the Cathedral of Telšiai. For that, the Executive Committee of the City of Telšiai fined him fifty rubles. They demand that the shrine be removed from the church-yard as allegedly spoiling the appearance of the place.
In January, 1974, Vice Chairman Ruginis of the Executive Committee of the City of Klaipeda ordered the pastor to send away from the altar some worshipers, because they wore folk dress. In the judgment of Ruginis, it is not allowed to show up in church so dressed.
The pastor, fearing any unpleasantness, promised to allow the worshipers to the altar only when they bring written permission from the Executive Committee.. .
The faithful are deeply annoyed by Ruginis' order, saying, "Where is our freedom of belief, if government officials decree what kind of dress we must wear when we go to church?"
During the winter of 1956-57, in the Middle School of Kulautuva, the Party Secretary, Teacher L. Gangapševa saw a small cross hanging from the neck of Teacher (Miss) S. Jasiūnaitė. Gangapševa reported his discovery to the Party Committee of the Kaunas region, and to the Department of Education.
To the school came Instructor Filomenova of the Party in Kaunas and summoning a hasty meeting of the teachers, discussed the offense of "the one who walks around with crosses." In the course of the meeting the instructor described the cross as a historical horror and as a threat to the Soviet Union, and Teacher Jasiūnaitė as a perpetrator of that threat.
"Such a person as this Jasiūnaitė shall not work in our school any longer!" exclaimed Filomenova, pounding the table with her fist.