In This Issue:
Lithuania August 26, 1977
It is difficult to make an accurate assessment of existence in a security prison because the prisoners cannot put everything in letters: The censor does not allow it to pass. Vladas Lapienis complains in one letter: "The interrogator told me that I am allowed to write one letter a month and only about commonplace occurences. But such occurences are very limited in prison; they are repetitive and uninteresting. Occasionally, as I write, a thought will accidentally stray from the established standard. And so, one or two weeks later, I am informed that the censor did not allow the letter to pass and then I have to write again."
The letters of Vladas Lapienis are interesting because alongside every-day events we find beautiful ideas, thoughts and encouragement. He writes his wife: "When I was home, I often related to you excerpts or interesting ideas from books and newspapers I read. So, in keeping with that old habit, I will do likewise in this letter." And so every letter contains a handful of interesting ideas. For instance:
"It sometimes happens that, at certain times, one's life changes to such an extent that one experiences more in several days, weeks or months than one would in one or several years under different circumstances . . . Even here, prayer is not a burden for me or a dry habit, but a living communion with God . . . Now, more than ever, I understand the richness of the "Our Father," the surprising beauty of the "Hail Mary," and the veritable treasury of faith contained in the "Apostles' Creed" . . .
"God's grace reaches even here: It visits, it comforts, it strengthens. God sees each tremor of the soul. Nothing can be hidden from His all-seeing eye . . . Travelling down the road of life, you reach a crossroads, where, like the hero in the story, you face a fateful dilemma: Take one road and lose your soul; take the other and suffer much agony and hardship. You need only choose which road to take!
(Regarding the Situation of Roman Catholics and other believers in Lithuania)
In the Soviet Union the struggle against religion is an essential element in the program of the Communist Party. "Freedom of conscience" is understood here in a special way. A. Veshchikov in his brochure, "Soviet Law on Religious Cults", (Vilnius, 1963) describes freedom of conscience as follows: "In our understanding of freedom of conscience, there is a definitive liberation of all people from religious superstition." (p. 10). This same idea is expressed in the pamphlet "Soviet Laws on Religious Cults and the Freedom of Conscience" (Vilnius, 1970) by J. Anidas and Rimaitis: "True freedom of conscience is possible only . . . when all available scientific, cultural and ideological resources are employed to help man free himself of anti-scientific religious influences. So long as believers have not rid themselves of religious superstition, full freedom of conscience is not possible." (p. 54)
Such a view and explanation of freedom of conscience is self-contradictory: wherever there is force, restriction and struggle, freedom cannot exist. It also contradicts international pledges: The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, The Helsinki Final Act, The International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as The International Pact on Citizen Rights
The Soviet Union, as a member of the United Nations Organization, pledged to respect and safeguard human rights and fundamental freedoms, but did not alter its declared policy toward religion within its own borders. Not only are old laws still in effect, but even after the Helsinki accords of July 28, 1976, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Lithuania confirmed the Statutes on Religious Congregations, comprising 53 articles, which we already made public in 1976 in our document No. 2. We again call attention to the fact that these statutes are based entirely on various Soviet regulations and statutes, created before the Helsinki accords, and discriminate against believers; for instance, anti-religious propaganda is allowed, but religious propaganda is not, only religious services can be conducted and so forth.
To: Leonid Brezhnev, Chairman of the USSR Constitutional Commission A statement from: Father St. Valiukėnas
Kretingos 7, apt. 3, Vilnius
I am proposing that the words "carry out atheist propaganda" be deleted from article 52 of the Constitution draft, or that after
"carry out" the words "religious and" be inserted so the sentence will read as follows: "carry out religious and atheist propaganda."
By legalizing only atheist propaganda and making it state policy (as up to now), freedom of conscience is abolished, the first portion of article 52 of the Constitution is voided and articles 34 and 35 of the draft Constitution are contradicted, because atheists become full-fledged care-takers of the state while believers merely have the right to "profess any religion whatsoever and practice religious rites," of course only if atheists, as full-fledged citizens and care-takers of the state, do not wish to invade the conscience of the faithful, if they do not attempt to reeducate them by drastic means and torment them by firing them from work, giving bad references, preventing them from seeking higher education, using the funds of believers for atheist propaganda, appropriating "property necessary for the practice of religion" (art. 22 of the July 28, 1976 order issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR), forcibly demanding that atheism be studied (There are university chairs of atheism, but none of religion.) and the like. In other words, atheists are privileged, while believers are made into the obedient servants of their will.
The draft Constitution groups citizens into sons and stepsons. Practice confirms this.
In the middle of August, the Commission for Religious Affairs notified the seminary administration which candidates are given permission by the government to study at the Theological Seminary. Twenty candidates were allowed to enroll in the first-year philosophy course. There were over 40 applications for study at the Seminary. This is how the "most democratic" government in the world "does not interfere" in internal church affairs.
Those who entered the Seminary were many times diligently recruited to work as KGB agents. Security agents most diligently recruit as agents timid, unprincipled and introverted seminarians. They avoid recruiting courageous and candid young men in order that they not reveal the KGB's criminal activity.
It is very unfortunate that this year again several unqualified candidates enrolled in the Seminary, while a sizeable group of good candidates was rejected.
To: Lithuanian SSR Commissioner for Religious Affairs with the USSR Council of Ministers, Citizen K. Tumėnas
Copies to: His Excellency Bishop J. Matulaitis-Labukas His Excellency Bishop L. Povilonis His Excellency Bishop R. Krikščiūnas Most Reverend Administrator Msgr. Č. Krivaitis Most Reverend Administrator Canon J. Andrikonis
A statement from: The rector of the Kaunas Intradiocesan Seminary Professor, Dr. Viktoras Butkus
On June 12, 1976, the Moscow English-language weekly Moscow News and on July 21, 1976, the French Les Nouvelles de Moscou printed an interview with Father Viktoras Butkus, Rector of the Kaunas Theological Seminary, regarding the situation of the Roman Catholic Church in the Soviet Union.
On August 23, 1977, Šiauliai resident (Mrs) Petkevičienė was summoned to the Vilnius Security Police. She was interrogated for two days in connection with the case of Balys Gajauskas. At first, she was questioned by Interrogator Kazys. His coarse and obscene language was reminiscent of the terrible Beria era.
Mr. Petkevičius was also interrogated. The interrogators suggested to the Petkevičiuses that they emigrate abroad.
On August 23, 1977, at about 1:00 P.M., at the Vilnius railroad station, security police arrested Viktoras Petkus, a member of the
Lithuanian Helsinki Group, and another young man (name unknown). After being interrogated, the young man was released the following day. In the afternoon, a search was conducted in the Petkus apartment and two typewriters and many documents were confiscated.
At present Viktoras Petkus is being held at the State Security Prison, Vilnius, Lenino 40.
"Aušra" (Dawn) No. 7. This issue writes about the desecration of the Hill of Crosses, the undermining of our cultural heritage; the concluding article reports on the hardships of Lithuanians living in Byelorussia. The article "Whose Mirror is Distorted?" presents tacts in reply to the propaganda article of author J. Baltušis. A new section has been inaugurated in this issue entitled: "SOS! SOS! SOS!" which will present the most striking current events and the most painful incidents of persecution and national destruction.
"Rūpintojėlis" (Suffering Christ) No. 2. The article "What Demands Are Being Placed on Us by the Complicated Maze of Current-Day Life?" is most worthy of attention. The author examines the problem of secularization and offers possible means of action, how to resit the spreading godlessness (lay apostolate, struggle against fear and so on.)
"Dievas ir Tėvynė" (God and Country) Nr. 5. a large portion of this issue is devoted to a critique of dialetic materialism; proofs of God's existence are presented. The article "The Honorable Teacher" recounts the life and death of teacher Regina Procevi-čiūtė. It is essential that Dievas ir Tėvynė continue to gather material on noble Lithuanians who remained heroically faithful to God and country under difficult circumstances. The issue covers 81 pages.
Fellow Lithuanian, remember the followings;
Petras Plumpa, Povilas Petronis, Nijolė Sadūnaitė, Sergiejus Kovalev, Ona Pranskunaitė, Vladas Lapienis, Viktoras Petkus and others who bear the shackles of imprisonment so that you may freely believe and live.