To: The Secretary General of the USSR Central Committee, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium, and Chairman of the USSR Constitutional Commission,

Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev Copies to:   1.   LSSR Supreme Soviet Presidium

2.   Lithuanian SSR Commissioner for Religious Affairs of the USSR Council of Ministers

A statement from:   The Priests of the Vilnius Archdiocese, Lithuania SSR.

(The draft Constitution is for the KGB and atheists.)

We, the undersigned priests of the Vilnius Archdiocese, having read the new USSR draft Constitution submitted for nationwide consideration, consider it necessary:

1. That, based on the complete equality of citizens, independent of their relationship with religion, which is the subject of article 34, the new USSR Constitution guarantee all the nation's citizens— believers as well as non-believers—equal rights and freedoms in the area of conscience; namely, that article 52 of the Constitution include, alongside the freedom of anti-religious propaganda, the freedom to disseminate religious beliefs, that is, religious propaganda, and that believers be permitted to use this freedom as non-believers and atheists use the freedom of anti-religious propaganda

2. That article 53 of the Constitution guarantee, alongside govern­ment assistance granted families in expanding the wide network of child-care agencies and so forth, the right of the unborn child to be born and live; that the freedom of parents to raise their children according to their beliefs and the freedom of conscience be guaran­teed; that the durability of marriage and the family be further strengthened by laws.

We are convinced that such statutes and adherence to them would greatly benefit society and would even further enhance the international reputation of the USSR, which we must concern our­selves with, as required by article 62 of the draft.

Lithuanian SSR July 1977

Priests of the Vilnius Archdiocese:

Rev. Jonas Kukta, Rev. Antanas Mačiulis, Rev. Antanas Simo­naitis, Rev. Steponas Tumaitis, Rev. Bronislavas Laurinavičius, Rev. Ignas Jakutis, Rev. Vladislovas Černiauskas, Rev. Stanislovas Va­liukėnas, Rev. Donatas Puidokas, Rev. Alfonsas Petronis, Rev. Aldas Čeponis, Rev. Julius Baltušis, Rev. Albertas Ulickas, Rev. Jonas Kardelis, Rev. Vytautas Jaskeliavičius, Rev. Domininkas Valančiaus­kas, Rev. Karolis Garuckas, Rev. Kazimieras Valeikis, Rev. Kazimie­ras Žemėnas, Rev. Alfredas Kanišauskas, Rev. Alfonsas Merkys, Rev. Donatas Valiukonis, Rev. Kazimieras Pukėnas, Rev. Antanas Dzie-kan, Rev. Dr. Silvestras Malachovski, Rev. Jonas Charukevič, Rev. Adolf Trusevič, Rev. Pijus Jankus, Rev. Stanislovas Kakarieka, Rev. Henrikas Kitauskas, Rev. Konstantinas Gajauskas, Rev. Antanas Andriuškevičius, Rev. Algimantas Keina, Rev. Jonas Vaitonis, Rev. Ričardas Černiauskas, Rev. Juozas Budrevičius, Rev. Bronius Jaura, Rev. Jonas Lauriūnas, Rev. Nikodemas Pakalka, Rev. Česlovas Ta­raškevičius, Rev. Mykolas Petravičius, Rev. Bronislavas Sakavi­čius, Rev. Kazimieras Gailius, Rev. Stanislovas Markevičius, Rev. Vytautas Rūkas, Rev. Petras Daunoras, Rev. Viktoras Zavacki, Rev. Vaclovas Aliulis, Rev. Konstantinas Moli, Rev. emeritus Leonas Lavcevič, Rev. Dr. Kazimieras Kulak, Rev. Vladislovas Novicki, Rev. Juozas Urbonas, Rev. Alfonsas Tamulaitis, Rev. Justinas Sau­lius, Rev. Vladislavas Velymanski, Rev. Danielius Baužys, Rev. An­tanas Zaman, Rev. Vaclovas Obremskis, Rev. Antanas Dilys, Rev. Jonas Morkūnas, Rev. Nikodemas Jaura, Rev. Povilas Jurkovlenec, Rev. Juozas Poškus, Rev. Juozas Tunaitis, Rev. Kazimieras Kin­durys, Rev. Jonas Grigaitis, Rev. Vytautas Bronickis, Rev. Kazi­mieras Vasiliauskas. Rev. Povilas Bekiš, Rev. Juozas Juodagalvis, Rev. Zenonas Patėjūnas, Rev. Juozas Deksnys, Rev. Dr. Pranciš­kus Vaičekonis, Rev. Stanislovas Lidys, Rev. Petras Tarvidas, Rev.

Martynas Stonis, Rev. Stanislovas Taporek, Rev. Aleksandras Lia-kovič.

The above statement was also signed by the following priests of the Vilkaviškis Diocese:

Rev. L. Kavaliūnas, Rev. J. Matulevičius, Rev. J. Sventickas, Rev. A. Vitkus, Rev. V. Būdas, Rev. A. Urbonas, Rev. V. Bobinas, Rev. J. Maksvytis, Rev. K. Burba, Rev. J. Berteška, Rev. P. Orlickas, Rev. V. Jalinskas, Rev. V. Dumčius, Rev. V. Stakėnas, Rev. J. Zdebs-kis, Rev. K. Montvila, Rev. P. Račiūnas, Rev. P. Dumbliaus­kas, Rev. A. Račkauskas, Rev. J. Baranauskas, Rev. I. Plioraitis, Rev. J. Adomaitis, Rev. V. Užkuraitis, Rev. S. Tamkevičius, Rev. K. Skučas, Rev. A. Deltuva, Rev. A. Lukošaitis, Rev. J. Mieldažys, Rev. J. Ma­linauskas, Rev. V. Česna, Rev. A. Pangonis, Rev. J. Grudzinskas, Rev. L. Kunevičius, Rev. V. Vaitauskas, Rev. A. Gustaitis, Rev. J. Užu­pis. Rev. A. Liubšys, Rev. J. Palukaitis, Rev. K. Ambrasas, Rev. J. Būga, Rev. B. Čegelskas, Rev. V. Gurevičius, Rev. V. Kiz-laitis, Rev. P. Andrišiūnas, Rev. P. Sitka, Rev. K. Juškevičius, Rev. V. Perusevičius, Rev. B. Ražukas, Rev. P. Adomaitis, Rev. J. Žemaitis, Rev. S. Samuolis, Rev. A. Akelevičius, Rev. V. De­gutis, Rev. G. Dovidaitis, Rev. J. Kapstaitis, Rev. J. Varbuolis, Rev. J. Šalčius, Rev. A. Vakeliūnas, Rev. J. Preikštas, Rev. Pasilanskas, Rev. J. Jakaitis, Rev. A. Aleksandravičius, Rev. J. Aleksa, Rev. S. Račkauskas, Rev. J. Radzevičius, Rev. A. Rimas, Rev. G. Skučas, Rev. P. Vagneris, Rev. J. Juškaitis, Rev. J. Gumauskas.

To: Secretary General of the USSR Central Committee, Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium, Chairman of the USSR Constitutional Commission, L. Brezhnev


Copies to:

1.    Secretary of the Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee and Chairman of the Lithuanian Constitutional Commission P. Griškevičius;

2.    Apostolic Administrator of the Panevėžys Diocese, His Excellency Bishop Dr. R. Krikščiūnas;

3.    USSR Council of Ministers Religious Affairs Council Lithuanian SSR Commissioner K. Tumėnas

A Statement By Priests of the Diocese of Panevėžys, Lithuanian S.S.R.


Availing ourselves of the rights granted all citizens to make suggestions regarding the new USSR draft Constitution, we, the undersigned priests of the Panevėžys Diocese, cognizant of the views of the faithful, are presenting our thoughts on the articles of the draft Constitution which relate to religion and the affairs of believers, and suggest that the articles be clarified.

The main context of article 52 of the draft Constitution is taken from article 124 of the USSR Constitution now in effect. This article which has for many years governed the lives of believers is, from our experience, undemocratic and limits the personal and religious freedom of believers. Part of article 52 states: "USSR citizens are guaranteed the freedom of conscience, that is, the right to profess any religion whatsoever, perform religious rites or not profess any religion, and conduct atheist propaganda." This one sentence is already self-contradictory—all citizens are accorded freedom of conscience, atheists are guaranteed freedom of propaganda; but believers are not granted the freedom of religious propaganda, although propaganda is essential to the conscience and faith of believers.

By treating unequally the relations of believers and non-be lievers which the state and the freedom of propagating their philo­sophy, this article has caused believer citizens spiritual hardship and suffering. But, on the basis of this article, atheists enjoy un­limited freedom to propagate atheism. By considering their phi­losophy as the state's, they revile religion and believers, and the state provides them all means of propaganda, established through a proportionate use of believer funds: schools, press, radio, tele­vision, theater and so on. Believers are only accorded the freedom to perform religious rites and attend them (actually not everyone), but are not allowed to defend and spread their beliefs to the general public, which is an essential part of religious profession. Priests are punished with imprisonment or administrative fines for teaching children in church the practice of religion rites. For professing their religion, believers experience persecution, demotion, denial of responsible positions, even dismissal from work and so on.

The assumption of a more responsible position is synony­mous with the renunciation or religion. Many believers are forced to practice their religion in secret because of persecution. The only Seminary in our Republic, in Kaunas, is not allowed to train all suitable candidates for the priesthood. Therefore, many parishes are without a priest. (This year six priests died in the Panevė­žys diocese, and the Seminary trained only one.) Until now, freedom of religious practice has been only a dream for believers, because administrative means are used to restrict the training of priests, without whom religious services are impossible.

Article 52 of the draft Constitution states: "It is forbidden to fo­ment discord and hatred regarding religious beliefs." Believers do not even have the means to foment, because they are not accorded the freedom of propaganda, while the atheists have access to all such means. This portion of article 52 must be clarified. One more sentence has been taken from the Constitution now in effect and included in article 52 of the new draft Constitution: "In the USSR, the church is separate from the state, and the school form the church." If the church is separate from the state, it is necessary to guarantee in the Constitution that the state not interfere in internal Church affairs and not subjugate it, making it dependent on Rayon.. Councils of Workers' Deputies as it were a religious department, as seen in the July 28, 1976 Decree No. IX-748 of the Lithuanian SSR Supreme Soviet Presidium, and confirmed by the Statutes on Reli­gious Congregations. Under the cloak of the separation of school and church, believer parents are restricted in countless ways re­garding the religious upbringing of their children: children are set against their religious parents, children are forbidden to perform religious practices, thus violating the inalienable right of parents to raise their children according to their conscience and beliefs.

In order to avoid discrimination, we propose to amend article 52 as follows:

"USSR citizens are accorded freedom of conscience, that is, the right of all citizens, regardless of age or positions held in the state, to profess any religion whatsoever, to freely practice religious rites, to learn and teach religious teachings, or to not profess any religion, to live and act according to atheist beliefs.

"In spreading their philosophy, believers and atheists are granted equal rights to use all present-day means of information: school, radio, television and other.

"Religion and atheism depend on and are supported by the efforts and funds of citizens who hold the same views, and conduct instruction in special schools which they freely support.

"It is forbidden to foment discord and hatred regarding religious or atheist beliefs."

Amend article 36 as follows: "Various nationalities, races, believer and nonbeliever Soviet citizens have equal rights."

Supplement, article 57: "Soviet laws protect and defend the health and life of the unborn human being—abortion is forbidden."

Supplement, article 66: "Believer parents have full right to raise their children according to their conscience and religious beliefs."

Moreover, it is necessary to legally guarantee in the Constitu­tion that no one can be directly or indirectly forced to speak or act against his conscience and beliefs. All constitutional rights must not only be early stated, but must also be capable of execution in practice.

Priests of the Panevėžys Diocese

September 12, 1977

Signed by 120 priests and Bishop V. Sladkevičius