CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA NO. 32
In This Issue:
Whats New in the Church's Life?
Socialism "Guarantees" Freedom of Conscience
Congratulations to The Chronicle of Current Events
Additional Information on the Trial of Vladas Lapienis, J. Matulionis and Ona Pranskūnaitė
From the Archieves of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania
SITUATION OF CATHOLICS IN MOLDAVIA
Lithuania ........................................... March, 1978
At the beginning of February 1978, the priests of Lithuania presented a letter to Bishop J.(uozas) Labukas, the Apostolic Administrator of the Kaunas Archdiocese.
The letter voices the priests' concern about the intolerable situation existing at the Kaunas Seminary due to constant interference by government officials in Seminary affairs. Fearing security police vengeance, the Ordinaries do not dare expel from the seminary seminarians who have been recruited by the KGB. The authors of the letter thank the rector of the seminary for expelling seminarian Jakutis and bemoan the fact that seminarian Rudis, who continually disrupts discipline at the seminary and whom all seminarians hold to be a KGB agent, has been allowed to remain. Third-year seminarian Kazlauskas is also considered a KGB agent and should be immediately ousted from the Seminary. Similar seminarians also exist in other seminary classes.
The authors of the letter feel that the Ordinaries are making a serious mistake by ordaining seminarians of doubtful worth.
The priests charge Kaunas Archdiocesan Apostolic Administrator Bishop J.(uozas) Labukas with giving most consideration to the demands of government officials when appointing priests to parishes. The Rev. Izidorius Butkus is cited as an example. Under pressure by government officials, this priest was imposed as chancellor of the Kaunas archdiocese and now serves as pastor of St. Anthony Parish.
At the beginning of 1978, Rayon newspapers reprinted an article by Religious Affairs Commissioner K.(azimieras) Tumėnas entitled "Socialism Guarantees Freedom of Conscience." Tumėnas' article shows that the policy of the occupation government toward the Church remains essentially unchanged. The Church and the faithful are persecuted—but only more subtly, although there are some places where even brutal terror is used—and attempts are made to cloak it all in beautiful words.
Tumėnas writes that "the state does not interfere in the canonical and liturgical activities of the Church," while he personally visited the Kaunas Seminary on Holy Saturday (March 25) and compelled seminary authorities to expel two seminarians—P. Ra-žukas and V. Pūkas—although they had committed no offense. Their only crime was that Pūkas had lent his typewriter to Ražukas, who tried to copy some religious material. The KGB saw these two seminarians as potential enemies and decided to break up the "anti-Soviet hotbeds" at the seminary.
On the other hand, the KGB is making efforts to have its agent, the former seminarian R. Jakutis, readmitted to the Seminary. The KGB is given considerable help in this matter by Msgr. Č.(eslovas) Krivaitis, Rev. A. Gutauskas and other priests. From now on, seminary authorities will no longer have the right to'expel a student from the Seminary without the consent of the Ordinaries. This decision will prove beneficial only to the KGB, for when the government wishes to eliminate a good seminarian, the Ordinaries will remain silent, as they did on Holy Saturday when P. Ražukas and V. Pūkas were expelled, and when it becomes necessary to oust KGB agents from the seminary, Ordinaries, like Msgr. C. Kri-vaitis, will come forward to support the KGB collaborators, and the remaining Ordinaries will remain silent out of fear, as they recently did.
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Chronicle of Current Events. Over these years, it has earned the respect of all freedom-and justice-loving people. The Catholics of Lithuania are very grateful to the Chronicle of Current Events for constantly informing the world of events and violations of religious rights in Lithuania.
On the occasion of this illustrious anniversary, the faithful of Lithuania pray the Lord to grant the Chronicle of Current Events countless blessings and perseverence in its continuing trials and tribulations!
The Publishers of the
Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania
(Miss) Marytė Vitkūnaitė was hurrying to medical school on the morning of March 2, 1978. In the Town Hall Square stood a "Volga" No. 84-92 and next to it three men. Suddenly one ot them seized Vitkūnaitė by the arm and forced her into the car, two of the assailants sat on either side of her and stated they were security policemen. When Vitkūnaitė demanded to see their identification, one of the security agents pulled out a red booklet, but did not allow to see its contents. On the way, they were joined by another security police vehicle, in which sat three men and one woman. Upon arriving at (Miss) Vitkūnaitė's place, they took from her her apartment key, unlocked the room and crowded inside. Vitkūnaitė was ordered to sit on the sofa and not to move from the spot. Major Urbonas produced a search order: they had come to seize anti-Soviet literature and copying equipment. A typewriter stood on the table. Vitkūnaitė simply pointed to it and said "Take it."
The search was very thorough. The security agents inspected every scrap of paper, removed pictures from the walls and dismantled one of them to see whether it was used to hide anything, they took the sofa and pillows apart, took covers off comforters, looked through all the books, the refrigerator, looked through all the bookcases and the closet. They were overjoyed at finding issue No. 9 of Aušra (Dawn). They were even more elated at finding nine copies of 20 pages of issue No. 9 of Aušra.
Vladas Lapienis writes:
" .. .1 was hospitalized from December 9, 1977 to January 27th of this year.
"On February 17th of this year I was told by the warden that "a medical commission" (which I never saw) certified that I am of sound health, completely fit to work and categorized me as third group disabled which gives the colony administration the right to assign any kind of work. I was immediately ordered to go to the boiler room and begin working as a stoker. This work is not easy: one must bring coal from outside, cut firewood, carry out burned-out coal and ashes and stoke all day the furnace located in the boiler room. I replied that because of my advanced age and weak health (constant roaring in my head, frequent and debilitating headaches, low blood pressure, neuralgia and a weak heart) I would not be able to perform such work. The warden then became enraged and threatened to punish me by sending me to a punishment cell and other methods. In fact, because I refused to go work as a stacker, the colony administration filed a reprimand against me, confined me to a punishment call for one week, forbade me to receive food packages this year and forbade me to buy goods from the camp store during the month of February.. Other months, I was allowed to purchase five rubles worth of goods at the camp store.
"To punish a man who cannot perform hard work because of advanced age and weak health and to impose four penalties for one offense is a harsh violation of the most basic human rights. These facts demonstrate how human rights are respected in our country. Until my arrest, I had been retired for nearly ten years and received a pension. And I didn't work because I could not. It is clear to every rational individual that my health could not possibly have improved more than eleven years later, one and a half of which were spent behind bars. In fact, my health has grown considerably worse. Besides, I have not seen any medical commission. Upon arriving at the hospital, I was questioned for several minutes about my health by a doctor, and likewise when I was discharged from the hospital. That was the medical commission! How can one doctor make up a medical commission?
(Excerpts from documents of the LSSR Supreme Court) Presiding Judge — S. Raziūnas, People's councillors — V. Buro-kevičienė and B. Kilius, Secretary — O. Jablonskaitė, Prosecutor — J. Bakučionis.
The accused: 1. Vladas Lapienis, son of Antanas, born June 6, 1906, charged under part one of art. 68 of the LSSR Criminal Code; 2. Ona Pranskūnaitė, daughter of Jonas, born January 2, 1935, charged under art. 199-1 of the LSSR Criminal Code.
The court has determined:
During 1972-1976, 25 issues of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania (Chronicle) were illegally published in the Lithuanian SSR, duplicated and distributed. These Chronicles contained material of a biased or clearly slanderous nature, presenting a distorted view of USSR domestic policy toward the Catholic Church in Lithuania and attempting to prove so-called violations of freedom of conscience and the persecution of believers, thereby disposing readers against the Soviet government.
Collections of the Chronicle were relayed to anti-Soviet bourgeois emigrant centers abroad, which use the slanderous material in their disruptive activity against the USSR, by reprinting and commenting on it in the U.S. — published Darbininkas (Worker), Draugas (Friend) and other reactionary newspapers and broadcasting over anti-Soviet radio programs (Vatican and others).
Paringys (Rayon of Ignalina)
A new grave appeared on December 27, 1977 in the Papilis churchyard, the Rayon of Biržai. It sheltered the mortal remains of the late Rev. Antanas Mačiulis. A large group of the faithful gathered to pay their last respects to and pray for the soul of this noble laborer in the vineyard of Christ, as did Their Excellencies Bishops J.(ulijus) Steponavičius and R.(omualdas) Krikščiūnas along with 82 other priests. The late Rev. Antanas Mačiulis attained the priesthood after overcoming the great hardships placed in his path by government officials. The deceased was born in 1941, served as pastor of Švenčionys, Aušros Vartai (Gates of Dawn) and the Paringys parish, from where the Lord called him after five years of ministry (he was ordained in 1972). Before dying, while fully conscious and aware of the consequences of cancer, he related the following:
"I graduated from the Papilis Middle School in 1959 and wished to enter the Interdiocesan seminary in Kaunas. But I could not enroll that year because I had to wait for the outcome of my military service problem. I began to work as a stockman at the Papilis MTS (Farm Machinery and Tractor Pool) and later as foreman at the land improvement department.
"After submitting the necessary documents to the seminary authorities and passing the entrance exams while I continued to work at the land improvement department, I waited during the summer of 1960 for the letter of acceptance from the seminary. A security agent once came to my place of work and ordered me to go to the Pandėlys Rayon militia department. Two persons whom I did not know were waiting for me there. They quickly flicked open their identification booklets but I could not read their names. I understood that they were security agents. They told me to sit at the table. One of them sat opposite me, while the other constantly paced behind me. The one who was seated spoke softly and kept writing something, while the other spoke less, but in a harsher manner. I was questioned about the past, about how often I used to visit the pastor, whether I brought books home from him, etc. They were very displeased at my negative reply. They inquired about my work at the warehouse, why I left, whether anything had been missing. Finally, they said they had heard about my wishing to enter the seminary. I admitted that I wanted to enroll there.
The intensive persecution of believing students which was launched in Telšiai in 1977 is still continuing. Despite the fact that teachers, school inspectors and even principals have been interrogating students, often ridiculing them in front of the entire class (this is how art. 52 of the Constitution is enforced here: not to foment hatred in connection with religious cults), despite threats that believing students would be given such references that no school of higher education would admit them, the students were not intimidated and continue to attend church.
Such behavior is an anti-government crime. Students who attend church daily, are handed over to government security organs. Security agents weekly interrogated 10th-grade student V. Mėmis from the 4th Middle School, 9th-grade students Remeza, Juškaitė and others from the 5th Middle School. If they refused to report to the security police, they were forcibly taken directly from class. All this occured with the knowledge of educators! The security agents did not make any serious charges, they simply frightened the young people, ordered them to spy on their friends and to report on the conversations of fellow classmates.
The KGB's efforts to recruit students as spies is one of the most serious crimes which damages the morals of adolescents.
Diocese of Kaišiadorys
I. Priests Murdered by Russian Soldiers in 1941:
1. The Rev. Andrius Juknevičius, Dean of Merkinė — taken from his home and shot in the fields.
2. The Rev. Matas Lajauskas, Dean of Molėtai — taken from his home, murdered and his corpse hidden.
3. The Rev. Jonas Daugėla, pastor of Stirniai — taken from his home and shot by the lake.
4. The Rev. Jonas Tutinas, pastor of Palomenė — bayonetted in the churchyard and disemboweled. After the soldiers left, the martyr died.
5. The Rev. Valentinas Balčius, Pastor of Pusnė — taken with his brother from his home and shot.
II. Priests Who Perished in Russian Prisons:
1. The Rev. Petras Liutkus — sentenced to 25 years, died in Vorkuta in 1946.
2. The Rev. Steponas Rudžionis, pastor of Gegužinė — sentenced to 25 years, died in Vorkuta.
3. The Rev. Donatas Linartas — sentenced to ten years, died in 1947.
1.Aušra (Dawn) No. 9 (49);
2.Rūpintojėlis (Suffering Christ) Nos. 3 and 4;
3.Tiesos Kelias (Way of Truth) Nos. 6 and 7;
4.Dievas ir Tėvynė (God and Country) No. 6.
Fellow Lithuanians, remember the following:
P. Plumpa, N. Sadūnaitė, S. Kovalev, O. Pranskūnaitė, V. Lapienis, V. Petkus, B. Gajauskas and others who bear the shackles of prison so that you might freely live and believe.
Kishinev, Moldavian SSR
Kishinew, the capital of Moldavia, has many churches, and all of Moldavia once numbered about 200 Catholic churches, with as many priests. Presently, the only church in Kishinev (On October 25th Street) has been closed for over ten years and in its stead the faithful have been given the cemetery bell tower (Azovskaya No. 11). Moldavia used to have churches in Bel'stry, Rybnitsa, Rosh-kovo, Orgeyev, Bendery, Soroki and other cities and villages. Now all are either closed or demolished. The entire republic has only the cemetery bell tower and only one preist—Vladislus Zavalniuk (born 1949, graduated the Riga Seminary in 1974 and directly assigned to work in Moldavia).
The faithfid of Moldavia have to bear many hardships because of unsuitable conditions at the bell tower: because of the large crowds and tight quarters, people must often stand out in the street, and even those who manage to get inside cannot pray because they often faint from poor ventilation and heat. Such incidents occur nearly every Sunday.
The local government often imposes various punishments on the priest because he often ministers to the faithful without permission from the government. To visit a sick person, a certificate is required from the physician stating that the patient is truly ill, as well as certificates from the local government, from the Kishinev Rayon Committee Chairman and from the Religious Affairs Commissioner. In practice, no one has yet been able to obtain all these certificates. There are many instances when the sick die without a priest. The priest has many times been detained on the road and his taxi driver many times punished by a suspension of his license for driving the priest.