To: The Comissioner for Religious Affairs
Copy to: The Apostolic Administrator of the Kaunas
Archdiocese, Bishop Labukas Statement from: Father Juozas Kriščiūnas, residing in Kučiūnai
On July 7th of this year, after morning services, the following local officials came to the Kučiūnai church: District Chairman Kočiū-nas, Party Secretary Sakavičius and (Mrs.) Dimšienė, Secretary of the Communist Youth Organization. They found me sitting in the confessional asking the children their prayers one by one. Other children were sitting in the church waiting their turn.
On July 9th they again found me sitting in the confessional and the children standing in line on either side of the confessional. They were coming up to the confessional one by one and practicing their confession aloud.
The local officials drew up a complaint and the Lazdijai Rayon Administrative Committee fined me fifty rubles for teaching children catechism (Case No. 154, July 17, 1975), although I stated that I did not teach catechism because the parents themselves had been doing a good job of teaching it at home for the past several years.
I am asking you, Commissioner, to take the appropriate steps to overrule the decision of the rayonadministrative committee, and to see to it that no obstacles are placed in the way of the performance of my priestly duties.
July 25, 1975 Father J. Kriščiūnas
Pastor of Kučiūnai
Zibalai. In the Kaišiadoriai Diocese, permission was granted in 1975 to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation only in Vievis and Zibalai. The Zibalai parish is small, out of the way, served by the Kiaukliai parish pastor Father A. Čarna.
It was announced that Confirmation would be administered in Zibalai on July 6th. As the announced date drew near, the administration of the sacrament was postponed to July 13th, and later for an unspecified period of time.
On Tuesday, July 29th, the administrator of the Kaišiadoriai Diocese, Canon Andrikonis, announced by telegram to the neighboring parishes that Confirmation would be administered in Zibalai on August 3rd. Because it was not possible to make this announcement from the pulpit, it was passed on in stores, dairy centers, and by mailmen. The pastors themselves went from house to house, but little good was achieved. There was no time nor opportunity to examine the religious education of the recipients. The sacrament of Confirmation was granted not to thousands of children, but to barely several hundred. Moreover, the surrounding parishes were left without Masses because the pastors had to go to Zibalai without announcing their departure to the faithful.
This is how the government sometimes gives permission to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Alanta. In 1973 the government, using harvest time as an excuse, prevented Confirmation from being administered in Alanta.
On July 6, 1974, the Sacrament of Confirmation was to be administered in Alanta, but the government tried to prevent it in several ways: Children were driven to camps and on trips, state farms were forbidden to give the use of trucks, on the roads persistent motor vehicle inspectors checked private cars and looked for violations. The town of Alanta itself was surrounded by signs prohibiting entry. Entry into the pastor's yard was barred: A no-entry sign was posted. The pastor of Videniškiai, Canon Jonas Jonys, was taking liturgical vestments to the bishop when he had to trespass a no-entry sign. Chief Motor Vehicle Inspector Grigaliūnas of the Molėtai Rayon and Motor Vehicle Inspector Michniov stopped him, crossed out his registration and forced him to retake his driver's test. Holes were punched in the registrations of the pastor of Suginčiai, Father Česlovas Zažeckas, and the pastor of Anykščiai, Father Petras Budriūnas. Truck drivers let their passengers out far from Alanta, because their driver's licenses were taken away if they were caught by motor vehicle inspectors.
Director Laurikėnas of the Rayon finance committee and Chief Inspector (Mrs.) Girskienė, accompanied by Security agents, tried to catch sellers of religious articles not only in the churchyard, but in the church itself. An uproar was heard as the officials dragged a fallen vendor of religious articles from the church. Then, the priests ejected the enraged officials from the church.
Valkininkai. In June 1975, the pastor of Valkininkai, Father Algimantas Keina, was summoned to the Vilnius Security Committee to retrieve the things taken from him during a search. Of the books and prayerbooks he had in several copies, only one of each was returned. For instance, approximately fifty prayerbooks were not returned, nor were approximately forty religious booklets for children entitled Sveika Marija (Hail Mary).
Interrogator Markevičius explained that they would be sent to the Grigiškiai paper factory. The following books were also not returned: Deimančiukai (Little Diamonds), Dievo ir Žmogaus Tarnyboje (In the Service of God and Man) by Krupavičius, Bažnyčia Dabarties Pasaulyje (The Church in Today's World) by Maceina, Reikia Duoti Pilną Religijos Laisvę. (Complete Religious Freedom Must be Granted), and others. He was promised the return of his typewriter at a later date.
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Kaišiadorys. In 1975 the Kaišiadorys Rayon district chairmen were sent instructions on how investigations are to be conducted:
1. Date and time of visit.
2. Information about ministers of cult (last name, first name, how long in the service of the church, reports of local officials on their actions.)
3. Is there a list of the committee of twenty and of the trustees ?
4. Religious holidays or festivals which you witnessed, and their names.
5. Approximate number of men, women, young people and school-age children attending church.
6. Content of the sermon (main thoughts, political religion, double-meanings, suggestions), what was read (excerpts from the Bible, letter from the Bishop and so on.)
7. Assistance during the services. Who served at Mass, were there any under-age boys; who strewed flowers, were there any under-age girls?
8. Were non-religious flags carried in the processions, did persons wearing national costumes participate (how many were there)?
9. Makes and licenses of cars parked near the church.
10. Were literature, cult articles, souvenirs, candy and the like sold in the churchyard or the church?
11. Mass political work organized that same day at the library, school and sports facilities.
Investigation conducted by: .......
name, place of employment) Date:
...(Last name, first
Kelmė. On March 10, 1975 Vice-Chairman Vytautas Grabauskas of the Kelmė Executive Committee summoned to the Rayon all the pastors and church committee chairmen within his jurisdiction.
First, they were addressed by an official from Vilnius. He reproached them for repairing churches without permits and threatened to punish them. Besides, workers who do the work must be paid. In the opinion of the Vilnius official, only educated men should be elected to church committees. The pastor of Vaiguva Father Šimkus, observed that all citizens are equal before the law and anyone can be elected.
Vice-Chairman Grabauskas berated them because churches are being repaired without permits and the deceased are escorted to the cemetery by priests with religious symbols: flags and crosses.
The pastor of Šaukėnai observed that this was forbidden only under the Czar.
"It is now also like under the Czar," exclaimed the excited Vice-Chairman.
Salos. On May 25, 1975, during solemn services in honor of Mary Help of Christians, the Salos state farm (Rokiškis Rayon) proclaimed a work day, even though it was Sunday. On the eve of the religious festival, group leaders warned workers, "If you don't come to work tomorrow, don't try to ask for either fodder or pastureland for your cow. You will be free to look wherever you please, but we won't give it to you."
A member of the Salos church committee, Izidorius Bagdonas, and his wife ignored the warning and came to church. Group leader (Mrs.) Matiukienė informed Assistant Director Steponavičius of the Salos state farm that Bagdonas and his wife had not obeyed her. Bagdonas was immediately deprived of a pasture close to his home and assigned one far from home.
Several of the farm's workers were absent on the day of the services, but they were not punished, because they were not in church.
In October 1974, a storm uprooted a huge poplar near the Salos church which in turn broke several trees, damaged the churchyard wall and, coming to rest against an oak, pushed it against the churchyard gate, which is an architectural monument. The whole Salos churchyard was covered with fallen trees.
The custodian of the Salos church (Miss) M. Šukytė and (Mrs.) Bartkevičienė went to see Salos State Farm Director Steponavičius and asked that the farm take away the fallen trees. Director Steponavičius only taunted them: "What, you want me to clean up the churchyard? You have a young pastor, let him clean it up."
After receiving oral permission from District Chairwoman (Mrs.) Raugalienė, Chairman Šukys of the Salos church committee cut up the fallen trees and gave them to (Miss) Šukytė, the church custodian. The leaning oak and five other trees, though posing a danger, were left as they were.
In 1975, at the request of the church committee, the Salos District appointed a commission which ruled that six trees in the churchyard and park posed a danger.
In February 1975 the Salos District received permission to cut down the oak and other trees from the RokiškisRayon Office for the Preservation of Nature. District Chairwoman (Mrs.) Raugalienė informed the Salos church committee of this permission.
"Cut down the trees; we are not issuing a written permit because it's not necessary."
The trees were cut down. The district chairwoman was invited to observe the work, but did not attend.
The Salos church committee took the oak and two maples to a sawmill because material was needed to repair the church. Then Assistant Director Steponavičius of the state farm confiscated this material.
On April 6, 1975 the Salos church committee wrote the Lithuanian SSR Attorney General and Soviet Commissioner for Religious Affairs Tumėnas. The latter made no reply, while the Attorney General sent the church committee's statement to the District Attorney of Rokiškis.
In May 1975 the Rokiškis District Attorney Cibulskis came to the Salos district and accused the pastor Father Nykštas, of having cut down the churchyard trees without permission. Moreover, the pastor was accused of cutting down seven, and not six, trees. A special permit should have been obtained to cut down an oak. The District Attorney ignored Father Nykštas' explanation that he cut down only six trees and that permission had been granted.
"Show me the written permit from the district and the forest warden. You need documents," said the District Attorney.
Assistant Director Steponavičius (former Director) of the Salos State Farm denied giving permission to remove the fallen trees from the churchyard. Salos District Chairwoman (Mrs.) Raugalienė also denied ever having said they had permission to cut down six trees. No one summoned or questioned the witnesses who were suggested.
Church Committee Chairman Šukys was questioned by the District Attorney about who wrote the statement to the Attorney General's Office of the Lithuanian SSR, who signed it, who organized the cutting down of the trees and so forth.
In the presence of the District Attorney, Assistant Director of the State Farm Steponavičius called Šukys a thief.
Soon afterward Šukys was subjected to as many as three counts of the number of farm animals he keeps. The law allows only two pigs, but Šukys was found to keep as many as three! What a "crime"! The assistant director of the state farm forced him to sell the pig to the state immediately.
There was also a check of how many farm animals were kept by the Salos Church Treasurer Mažeikis. Two cows were found, while only one cow is permitted. The treasurer was forced to sell the hefer, even though Mažeikis is the sole support of a family of six.
The Rokiškis District Attorney ordered Inspector Blažys of the Office of Enviromental Protection to issue a summons to Church Committee Chairman Šukys for cutting down the oak. He had to pay a fine of 30 rubles.
An employee of the Salos District, (Mrs.) Baronienė, was discussed at a Party meeting and given a reprimand for giving a copy of the permit issued by the Office of Environmental Protection to the Salos church committee. If the church committee had not obtained a copy of the permit, it would probably have been punished for cutting down all the trees. Regarding the Church Committee Chairman Šukys, the government officials stated: "If he complains or does not pay the fine, he will be punished for all the trees and will have to pay a fine of over 1,000 rubles."
The actions of the Rayon District Attorney and the Assistant Director of the state farm proved that the faithful have no rights and must keep quiet. If they try to complain they will get worse; a way will be found to punish them.
Krekenava. On September 3, 1975, Krekenava District Chairman P. Malinauskas wrote Father Kazys Dulksnis that, by attaching a memorial plaque honoring Maironis to a tree in the Krekenava churchyard, he had violated a law on environment protection, and ordered this plaque removed by September 10th.
The Krekenava church committee removed the nails from the tree, wired the plaque to the tree and informed the district chairman of their actions. A month later, the memorial plaque was stolen.
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Viekšniai. A resident of Židikai village, (Mrs.) Jadvyga Grabienė, went to the U.S. in 1973 to visit her son, a priest. While in Rome, (Mrs.) Grabienė purchased rosaries for herself and for relatives. Soviet customs officials made a thorough search of the elderly (Mrs.) Grabienė and destroyed in her presence the rosaries they found. The officials wanted to seize the last rosary which (Mrs.) Grabienė held clutched in her hand.
"I will never give up this treasure," tearfully cried the old woman, "even if you twist my arms."
Several years ago, the author of this article witnessed a "pogrom" by Russian customs officials: how they stuffed into bags the rosaries, holy pictures and statues they had seized from people. "Why do you need such fetishes?" taunted the officials.
One woman asked, "What do you do with the holy articles you take away?"
"We throw them into the trash." answered the official. All the travellers were stunned, and some brushed away tears.
Laugaliai. Director Striauka of the old people's convalescence home forbade the priest from visiting the old people and administer the sacraments to them. In April, 1975 the old people wrote to the Klaipėda Executive Committee asking that the priest be allowed to administer the sacraments to them. Vice-Chairman Imbrasas of the Executive Committee visited the home and stated that he could not fulfill their request because suitable facilities were not available.
Upon seeing a religious picture near the bed of an old man, the vice-chairman ordered it removed. (Miss) Riaukaitė, an invalid, approached the secretary of the Gargždai Party Committee and asked that the priest be allowed to visit the old people's home.
(Miss) Riaukaitė was scolded: "Don't bother me with such nonsense!" stated the Party secretary.
Jurbarkas. In the beginning of 1975, the juvenile inspector of the Jurbarkas Security Police summoned the nurse (Mrs.) Kleinienė and warned her:
"If you allow your son to go to church and serve at Mass, you will be stripped of your rights as a mother."
"I do not and will not forbid my son to go to church," answered (Mrs.) Kleinienė. "When my sons began to serve at Mass, they became better, more obedient, more diligent in school. Take away the parental rights of those whose children are being brought up wrong. Not long ago, hoodlums broke the windows of our school, destroyed our school medical supplies and broke desks. Have the parents of these children already been stripped of parental rights? My son did not commit any crime, then why do you want to take away my rights as a mother?"
"That's not my affair," explained the inspector. "I was handed down the order to warn you and I have done my duty."
Klaipeda. During Holy Week of 1975, the small Klaipeda church was bursting at the seams with people. School children and young people kept vigil all Easter eve in front of the tomb of Christ. After Easter, Vice-Chairman Ruginis of the Klaipeda Executive Committee ordered Klaipeda pastor Father Jonas Baikauskas to eject the girls keeping vigil from the altar. The pastor, frightened by Ruginis, told the girls that he would allow them to keep vigil only if they brought a permission slip from Ruginis.
The mothers of the girls tried to get such permission, but were met with Ruginis' harsh, "It is not allowed!" The parents decided not to give in. The girls continue to keep vigil, ignoring all prohibitions.
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Vilnius. A group of fifteen priests, under the leadership of Panevėžys Bishop Romualdas Krikščiūnas, left Vilnius on July 6, 1975 for Moscow. After receiving the necessary instructions, the group of priests and pilgrims went to Rome.
This excursion of priest-pilgrims to Rome was organized by Soviet Government officials for propaganda purposes: Let the world see what religious freedom exists in Lithuania.
At the same time that Lithuanian priests were visiting the churches of Rome, the LSSR Supreme Court was sentencing Nijolė Sadūnaitė to three years in a strict regime labor camp for having made typewritten copies of the 11th issue of Lietuvos Katalikų Bažnyčios Kronika (Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania).