CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA No. 33
In This Issue:
The New Constitution Discriminates Against Believers
Which Priests Are Shielding the Security Agent?
In Telšiai—Raslanas the Murderer
Lithuania ......................................... May 31, 1978
On March 19, 1978, the LSSR Supreme Soviet Presidium issued a decree proclaiming open debate on the new LSSR Draft Constitution. Earlier, when the USSR Draft Constitution was still under consideration, Lithuania's clergy and laity submitted their requests to Moscow. We are reprinting below other statements expressing the will of the believing people of Lithuania, which was completely ignored by Soviet officials.
To: The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR From: the Priests of the Kaunas Archdiocese, a statement on the new Draft Constitution.
The very brief time alloted for debate on the new draft Constitution forces us to urgently make several comments on this new
document which is to become the main body of law for many years to come.
Many priests have already presented their requests and comments of the Soviet Union draft. Unfortunately, their requests did not meet wjth any response. It seems that the voice of Lithuania's believers carries no weight in Moscow and no one sees any need to listen to it. It should be completely different in Lithuania where the great majority are believers and Catholics. We hope that here it will not be a voice crying in the wilderness. That is why we are writing.
In its present form, the new draft Constitution does not meet the needs of the faithful of Lithuania. Most of the articles which concern us directly are worded in an unclear and vague manner and, in fact, differ little from the old, other than in numbering. This version of the current Constitution, if it is not amended, will meet the needs of only a small portion of Lithuania's inhabitants—the atheists.
During April 12-14, 1978, a decent Lithuanian and Catholic, Balys Gajauskas, was sentenced in Vilnius to ten years in strict regime labor camps and five years in exile; he was convicted without any foundation, merely for collecting material for the archives on post-war battles against the occupant; he was in fact sentenced for life, because he had already served 25 years in Soviet labor camps; he was convicted because he loved his Motherland . . .
Tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of this nation's sons and daughters have already sacrificed their lives or freedom on the altar of the Motherland's freedom. This victim is also not the last and, most likely, only one of a series. The trial of Viktoras Petkus will soon be held in Vilnius! Today, the world knows of every new victim but, before, thousands died in the unequal battle in the forest or were deported in cattle cars to Siberia and no one in the world knew of their sacrifice. Only the enslaved nation remembered them in her songs...
To: The Chief of the USSR Supreme Council on Correctional Agencies (GUIT)
A Statement from: Elena Lapienienė, residing in Vilnius, Dauguviečio 5-11.
My husband Vladas Lapienis, born in 1906, is serving his sentence in Mordovia (Tengushev Rayon, Barashev, U4R 385/3-5).
Labor camp authorities have already punished him twice by confining him to a punishment call, and now are threatening to punish him with PKT (prison-type facility) because he supposedly refused to work.
In fact, my husband retired in 1966 and was often sick. One and a half years of imprisonment have completely broken his health. After speaking with my husband for barely several minutes, the camp physician wrote that a "physicians' commission" determined that my husband is capable of performing hard physical work. The camp authorities are forcing him to carry coal, stoke furnaces and perform strenuous work which only a healthy person can handle. Moreover, my husband is being forced to sew gloves, although camp authorities know that he cannot perform such work because of his weak eyesight. When my husband refused to perform work which his health will not permit, the camp authorities began to impose various penalties on him.
Please direct the camp administration to refrain from persecuting my husband with strenuous work and rescind the other penalties: punishment cell, ban on receiving packages this year, on having visitors and on purchasing food products from the camp store.
April 10, 1978 E. Lapienė
Fourth-year seminarian Ričardas Jakutis, already suspected earlier of being a security agent, was expelled from the Kaunas Seminary before Christmas 1977. The seminarian was ousted for drunkedness and immoral behavior. His offenses and loose morals are widely known in Šiauliai, Kaunas, Šilalė, Klaipėda, Riga, Mažeikiai and Telšiai. He often spent his nights drinking while a Šiauliai taxi used to wait for him. In Telšiai, the seminarian was caught naked in the company of women. A commission headed by the Rector travelled to Telšiai to investigate his offenses. Upon being expelled from the seminary, Jakutis admitted his guilt to the rector and dean and also publicly admitted his guilt to the seminarians. However, upon returning to Šiauliai, he immediately began to gather "evidence" that he had been unjustly expelled. He attempted to obtain affidavits from all witnesses to his offenses stating that he did not commit such offenses. He even begged (Mrs) Šorienė—who found him naked in a Telšiai apartment—on his knees, weeping, promising the earth and the sky, to withdraw or at least deny her testimony. After he visited her three times, (Mrs.) Šorienė denied her testimony, out of pity, but later, following the dictates of her conscience, wrote a letter to the seminary rector describing the whole situation.
During a meeting at the seminary on January 11, 1978, the Administrator of the Vilnius Archdiocese, Č.(eslovas) Krivaitis, demanded that Jakutis be readmitted to the seminary as one who had been wrongfully slandered (after a public admission).
The pastor of Aušros Vartai (Gates of Dawn) in Vilnius, Dean Gutauskas, and the pastor of St. Peter's Church, A. Dilys, went to Telšiai at the end of January to look into the "innocence" of Jakutis. They visited all the witnesses to his offenses (in secret, without the knowledge of the Telšiai diocesan chancery office or the Seminary administration). They did not attempt to investigate Jakutis' offenses, but merely asked who had made the whole matter public. These two Vilnius priests even asked the Šoris family whether they needed material assistance!!! Running into the Chancellor of Telšiai, Canon Beinoris, they stated they were convinced of Jakutis' innocence.
To: The Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of Lithuania;
Dr. V. Butkus, Rector of the Theological Seminary. A Statement from: The Priests of the Vilkaviškis Diocese.
Religious Affairs Commissioner K. Tumėnas came to the Kaunas Seminary on Holy Saturday, 1978, and demanded that two seminarians be expelled from the seminary: P. Blažukas from the Vilkaviškis Diocese and V. Pūkas from the Vilnius Archdiocese.
We, the priests ot the Vilkaviškis diocese, take this opportunity to state the following:
1) Only the Ordinaries of Lithuania and the seminary administration have the right to handle seminary matters, as dictated by church law. According to this law, there was no basis for expelling seminarians Blažukas and Pūkas from the seminary. The Religious Affairs Commissioner has no right to interfere in the admission and expulsion of seminarians.
2) The seminarians ousted from the Seminary are charged with duplicating illegal literature. We, the priests of Lithuania, have no other literatūra. All our literature—most prayebooks, all catechisms, sermon material, religious books—is "illegal," without permission from the Religious Affairs Commissioner. Seminarians cannot be ousted from the Seminary because of such literature.
3) The unfounded expulsion of the seminarians from the Seminary calls for the urgent need to see to it that young men seek the priesthood underground.
Please see that the seminarians unjustly expelled from the seminary are readmitted during this academic year.
Believing youth actively participate in services at the Telšiai Cathedral and the little church: young boys serve at the altar, while girls sing or adore the Blessed Sacrament. The young people's enthusiasm and courage greatly disturb the atheists: Telšiai teachers have tried to "fight" the youth using the most brutal methods—they searched their pockets, confiscated prayerbooks, gave lower deportment grades, forbade attendance at the funerals of believers, publicly ridiculed students, forced them to fill out questionnaires, etc. When the secret police tactics used by the teachers did not produce any results, help arrived from Vilnius . . .
Raslanas, an aide to the Religious Affairs Commissioner, arrived in Telšiai on Dec. 12, 1977.
The Little Lithuanian Soviet Encyclopedia (MLTĖ) (Vol. Ill, p. 39) states that Raslanas worked in Telšiai as an administrative employee from 1940. What kind of work did he perform in Telšiai at that time?
The people of Telšiai recognize him as the former NKVD employee who participated in the so-called "Case of the Samogitian martyrs" the night of June 24-25, 1941. He is mentioned several times in the book Martyrs of Samogitia (Žemaičių Kankiniai) (see p. 13, 14, 15 and 20). The Little Lithuanian Soviet Encyclopedia (Vol. Ill, p. 657) also writes that Antanas Vaitkus, former Telšiai Prison warden at that time, was, like Raslanas, an "administrative employee in Telšiai, 1940-1941" although after he finished torturing political prisoners, even his pants and shoes used to be spattered with blood (see Martyrs of Samogitia, p. 17). Is Raslanas not a criminal of the same order?
It would appear that now they again think he is the only person capable of handling the believing youth of Telšiai. For he is experienced—in June 1941, he and other security agents directed the brutal murder of the 73 martyrs of Samogitia.
The Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs of the Lithuanian SSR of the Council of Ministers of the USSR
November 11, 1977.
To the Chairman of the........ Rayon People's Council
of Deputies Executive Committee.
Please submit by January 15, 1978 data on the state of religiousness in religious groups of all denominations in the Rayon during 1977.
The following questions must be covered in the data submitted:
1) The state of religion in the Rayon or city, describing the activity of religious groups, the methods the clergy uses to stimulate religious life, the content of sermons (including the texts of sermons recorded), attendance at churches and other houses of worship; the number of believers who attend and the staff (based on the enclosed form); the number of births, marriages and deaths in the rayon or city.
2) The overall financial status of religious communities (according to the enclosed form).
3) How religious laws are enforced; the activity of commissions set up to monitor enforcement of these laws; breakdown of violations of cult laws and steps taken against violators.
Grade 10-B homeroom teacher (Mrs.) Rumbutienė of the Fifth Middle School did not allow her students to attend the funeral of their classmate's mother on November 21, 1977. The students carried their wreaths only to the grave.
Principal Snieškus of the Šiauliai Middle School summoned the father of 9th-grade student Dalia Jadikavičiutė on April 1, 1978, and attempted to persuade him that the faith was blocking Dalia's road to higher education. In the principal's view, Dalia belongs to some kind of "sect" and can "get into all kinds of trouble." The father was reminded that security organs have shown an interest in Dalia and that she has to justify her actions, and moreover that she should not belong to any "sects" or communities which often violate Soviet laws.
On October 18, 1977, Principal Jonaitienė of the Eighth Middle School in Šiauliai summoned to her office Grade 11B student Irena Dapkutė.
"Why haven't you joined the Communist Youth League? Won't your mother let you?"
"No. I myself don't wish to join." "Why? Do you go to church?" "Yes."
The persecution of believing Catholics is continuing in Moldavia, especially in Rashkovo. Since the house of worship—a tiny church— was demolished, people assemble every evening to pray at a small apartment in the former church's yard. Local government officials often come and disperse the praying people, especially children and young people.
Village Council Chairman Zan Matvejavič Bogorašh has summoned Valentina Oleinik many times to explain why she allows people to pray in her home, but she was never home. Finally, the opportunity arose. On March 21, 1978 Valentina Oleinik, on her return from Rybnitsa, was detained by Chairman Bogorašh in front of the village council office and was berated in unprintable language. He demanded that, in his words, the "brothel house of worship" be closed down. Oleinik replied that she would bring charges against him for defamation and insult. The government official berated the woman in the street simply because she is a believer. The insults hurled at (Mrs.) Oleinik were heard by Pranė Sajevska.
Chairman Bogorašh summoned Petr Pogrieenoy and Alksandr Prosianoy and threatened to level monetary fines against them if they continued to pray.
1) Rūpintojėlis (Suffering Christ). Issue No. 5 was published in May. The article "The February 16th Declaration" writes: "The period after February 16th when the Lithuanian state was established is the brightest era in the history of the Lithuanian nation. Nothing will dim it—neither attempts to erase it from Lithuanian history nor the efforts of those who serve foreign gods to debase and disdain it." The article's author fears that currently the morality of Lithuanians has been seriously undermined in occupied Lithuania and that this is leading the nation to perdition. " . . .arresting and reversing the decline of the nation's morality ... is a matter of life and death which will determine whether the nation will live or die." The article stresses that religion is the most important buttress of morality.
In the article "What is the Root of Evil", K. Aušrys relates the sad statistics of moral decay. In 1940, the per capita consumption of alcohol in Lithuania was 0.8 liters (4/5 quart), while now it is up to 17 liters (4 1/2 gals.).. . About 22,000 chronic alcoholics are receiving treatment. In the opinion of Lithuania's psychiatrists, only one third of all alcoholics is being treated. Prior to 1940, between 107 and 250 murders were committed in Lithuania; now, 4,000-5,000 people are murdered every year in Soviet Lithuania. The crime rate among the youth is rising steadily. Before Soviet times, about 15,000 abortions were performed annually in Lithuania, now they number around 60,000. Every year between 9,000 and 10,000 marriages break up, prisons are overcrowded, as are venereal disease clinics. "Excessive drunkenness shows that, under the Soviet system, man experiences a difficult spiritual crisis." The author suggests that we turn to religion and fight to our utmost against alcoholism in order to save the fatherland.
Issue No. 5 shows that the publication's articles are markedly more current, for which readers will certainly be grateful to the publishers of Rūpintojėlis.