THE CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA NO. 31
In This Issue:
What is the Purpose of New Agreements?
Whom Does A. Šeduikis Wayside Shrine Disturb?
Accusations Against the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania
Lithuania February 2, 1978
The news reaching us from the Kaunas Seminary is not good. The KGB continues diligently recruiting seminarians as agents. Applicants to the Seminary are unabashedly told by Security agents: "If you do not work for us, you will not be admitted to the Seminary." Seminarians are compelled to give written pledges always to provide the information required by the security police.
Through the efforts of the KGB and the Religious Affairs Commission, a sizeable group of completely unsuitable applicants who terrorize good seminarians was admitted to ttte Seminary.
Seminary officials are afraid to expel such seminarians, lest they suffer the consequences. Most distressing is that some such seminarians have even been ordained, although the bishops who ordained them knew that church law itself forbids the ordination of some of them.
Seminary authorities should be thanked for expelling from the seminary, just before Christmas 1977, fourth-year seminarian R. Jakutis, who was drunk and disorderly during vacation and whom seminarians considered to be a KGB agent. It is impossible to understand the Vilnius Archdiocesan Administrator C.(eslovas) Krivaitis and others who defended this seminarian at a meeting held at the seminary. The passive position of certain instructors and Ordinaries at the meeting attest to what degree they cater to the demands of the KGB.
One seminary instructor blurted out that "we cannot afford the luxury of expelling seminarians." It is true that today every priest who begins his ministry is precious, but it is totally clear that seminarians who are immoral or work for the KGB will not serve the good of the Church.
The case of Balys Gajauskas, under the direction of Major Pilelis, has been closed an remanded to the court. It would appear that the trial will be held at the end of February or the beginning of March.
Gajauskas is accused of involvement with the Solzhenitsyn Fund and the Archives of the Lithuanian Partisans. After the New Year, interrogator Pilelis and Lieut. Col. Kezys came to the Kaunas Security headquarters to interrogate Balys' mother and financee. Because his mother is ailing, the interrogator came to her apartment. According to interrogator Kezys, Balys faces a sentence of ten years at hard labor.
Balys Gajauskas has already spent 25 years in labor camps and has survived. Now the KGB wants to finish him off. It is therefore the sacred duty of all decent individuals to use all available means to defend this good and decent Lithuanian Catholic, who is completely devoted to his Fatherland. Balys Gajauskas can deservedly be considered to be the symbol of a sufferingand resisting Fatherland.
With great hope, we are waiting for our emigrant brothers, especially Simas Kudirka who knows Balys well, to do everything in their power to have Balys Gajauskas freed or allowed to go abroad. A new labor camp term for him would be tantamount to a death sentence.
On November 19, 1977, Povilas Petronis was released from labor camp. He was convicted in 1974 (see Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania No. 13) for making prayerbooks and duplicating illegal literature. Prior to his release, he was psychologically bartered for a month at the Vilnius KGB headquarters.
In 1948, the Soviet government compelled parishes to elect "Committees of twenty" (parish committees), executive committees and enter into unilateral agreements with district and city executive committees.
A campaign began in 1975 to renew these agreements and has continued until now. Last year, agreements were again renewed— even those which were drawn up in 1975. We are quoting from an order issued by Religious Affairs Commissioner K.(azimieras) Tumėnas to Vice-Chairman Urbonas of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee:
"Since the agreements of religious communities in your Rayon with the Peoples' Council of Deputies Executive Committee are out date, we ask you to renew them. We remind you that agreements are drawn up in three copies: One copy is sent to the commissioner's office, the second is for the religious community and the third for the Rayon Executive Committee. Please renew the agreements by December 15, 1977.
Commissioner K. Tumėnas."
How was this new agreement drawn up? Let us take the Vilkaviškis Rayon as an example. When he received Commissioner Tumėnas' order, Vice-Chairman Urbonas took the old agreement forms, crossed out the words:" . . .if under established procedure, it is decided to close the house of prayer (cult building), whose use was permitted by this agreement", and wrote in, as ordered " . . .if under established procedure, the community loses its accreditation . . ."
On January 9, 1978 Jonučiai (Kaunas Rayon) resident Juozas Vitkūnas invited the Rev. Vincentas Jalinskas to bless his home. Many guests had gathered for the occasion, especially youths and students, to whom the priest spoke on a religious theme. Suddenly, in the middle of the talk, a uniformed militiaman burst into the room. He was followed by two more militiamen and several civilians. A covered militia vehicle stopped at the door and there appeared more vehicles bringing militiamen and Security police. The house was surrounded and the road to the main street was bristling with militia. The militiaman who had entered the room demanded to see the owner of the house and signaled to the several adults to go into the next room. They were asked where they were from, their names and the like. The people questioned stated that they had committed no crime and would not give their names.
One woman guest told the intruders: "Are we some kind of criminals? You don't have the right to barge in and intimidate people!"
The Security agent retorted: "We will deal with you separately!" Father Jalinskas demanded to see the intruders' documents. The Security agent presented his employment card and stated that he has the right to disperse the gathering because such meetings are forbidden. When the officials ordered the priest to don his coat and get into the vehicle, he retorted: "We adults will not go, nor will we give you the children!" The militiamen tried to drag the adults to the vehicle by force. And all the while the children in the other room sang: Du gaideliai (Two Roosters) Jurgeli, meistreli (George, the craftsman) and other songs. A group of children managed to run away, but others were detained by officials who alertly guarded all exits. After the initial fright, the people attending the gathering began to mock the officials and did not disperse. The intruders demanded that they disperse and began to note the names of those leaving. Most gave fictitious names so the Security police would have less work in investigating this "crime." Only two adults were taken away for interrogation.
Alvydas Šeduikis, employed as an organist at the Telšiai cathedral, erected outside his house on Pionierių g. in Telšiai a free-standing wayside cross bearing a figure of the Sorrowing Christ. A month later, on November 17, 1977, Telšiai City Executive Committee Chairwoman E. Janušauskienė ordered the shrine torn down because it had been erected without a permit from the architect. When Šeduikis refused to tear it down and even vowed to defend it, charges were brought against him. Similar charges have also been brought against (Miss) Danutė Dargužaitė for erecting a shrine at the Telšiai cemetery. This particular shrine was erected with a permit from the architect, but she was accused of misleading the architect, since the sketch she submitted did not show a fieure of Christ, but merely an empty free-standing shrine. It appears that it is permitted to erect free-standing shrines without religious symbols. In fighting for his shrine, Šeduikis wrote the Religious Affairs Commissioner two statements which we are reprinting verbatim:
If we leaf through a picture album of Lithuanian villages or through older reproductions of Lithuanian scenes, we often note one element which indicates that we are viewing Lithuanian scenes and not those of another country. It is a small wooden architectural motif: an ornamented cross, a wayside shrine or free-standing covered shrine, which have been the Lithuanian's faithful companions over the centuries. What astonishing art creations, breathing the unex-tinquishable strength of folk creativity. They have made Lithuania famous throughout the world. Let us examine how this artistic form of expression is rated by art researchers:
In 1916 B. Ginet-Pilsudsky wrote: "During the first part of the 19th century, crosses were so frequent in Žemaičiai that the distance between them was no more than several dozen meters (Archives suisses des traditions populaircs—XX t.(Swiss Archives of Folk Traditions — Vol. 22); therefore the Polish geographer V. Pol called Žemaičiai "God's holy land." In 1926, the French writer J. Maucle-re "was amazed at the sheer number of crosses and shrines. They sprout in every garden, on every lawn, by every roadside and there is nothing more artistic than their great diversity." (J. Mauclere, Sous le del pale de Lithuanie (Under Lithuania's Pale Sky).
In Lithuania, atheist propaganda is increasingly being conducted from above. The Communist occupation apparatus is seeking ever newer and more subtle forms of action. Efforts are made to give the impression that there is no pressure from above in the atheist propaganda front, that atheist propaganda is only scholarly in nature and governed by Marxist methodology.
At the beginning of the 1977-78 academic year, middle school principals were ordered to review in detail the religious relationship of parents and children within and outside the family. To avoid
the impression of management from above, school authorities are attempting to implement the directives through atheist councils (such councils exist in every school; they are composed of several members, headed by a chairman appointed by the principal).
At the end of 1977, there appeared a samizdat leaflet entitled The Church and the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. All the articles in this publication attack the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania in one way or another. The most serious charges are that the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania divides the Church's unity, that it slanders, undermines confidence in priests and bishops, offends "the prestige of a powerful nation" and so on.
Until the appearance of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania,KGB collaborators had an ideal situation: they could commit the most public crime—for example, publish lies in the press about the "freedom" of believers in Lithuania, "defend peace" in Berlin—and no one stated publicly that such behavior is unacceptable. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania disrupted the plans of many people and is determined to continue disrupting them in the future.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is taking the opportunity to state the following:
The unity of the Church is divided not by the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, but by the KGB and its collaborators.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania does not.. discuss the secret personal misdeeds of either the clergy or government officials, but only those offenses which are public knowledge. Authority can only be redeemed by making amends and not through hypocrisy.
1) Issue No. 30 of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania printed the wrong address for O. Pranskūnaitė. The accurate place of her imprisonment is printed in this issue.
2) Issues No. 29-30 of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuaniawrote about the pastor of the Kirdeikiai parish, the Rev. P. Kraiauskas, not Krasauskas.
Fellow Lithuanian, Do Not Forget!
Petras Plumpa, Nijolė Sadūnaitė, Ona Pranskūnaitė, Sergei Kovalev, Viktoras Petkus and others who bear the shackles of imprisonment so that you might freely live and believe!