The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania has reported that, while still studying at the Seminary, the Rev. J. Alesius had no peace while on vacation in the Rayon of Lazdijai because he was continually harassed by KGB employees—Lazdijai KGB Chief Žemaitis and a security agent from Vilnius.
While serving as assistant pastor at the Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Šiauliai, Rev. Alesius was summoned on January 11, 1978 to the Šiauliai Military Commissariat, supposedly to verify his military status. A security agent waited for him at the Commissariat and introduced himself as Romas Pietaris:
"Greetings from Šiaudinis from Vilnius."
"I know no Šiaudinis."
"You spoke with him in Lazdijai, he is from the Vilnius Security Police. We will now begin meeting again. We will indicate to you what you must report to us."
"No, I don't intend meeting with you, because I don't get involved in politics."
"The Rev. Svarinskas also claims he does not get involved . . ."
Rev. Alesius frankly told the security agent that the KGB has become a nuisance. They wanted to force him while still in the Seminary to work as a security police collaborator. They even forced a pencil into his hand. They threatened that if he refuses to sign he will not complete the Seminary.
"It's too bad that you blabbed this to everyone."
"From childhood, my parents have taught me to be honest. When I was taken to Lazdijai and was absent from home all day, I had to tell my family where I had been because they had been very worried. Besides, the security agents themselves acted very foolishly—they spoke with me at the Lazdijai Soviet Building. Everyone saw us, and many of my friends work there."
"Yes, we made a mistake," admitted the security agent. "But we will still meet again. We will keep it a secret. We can summon you by telephone."
"No, I won't come. I will not serve two masters. I categorically refuse. Unless you come take me by force."
Before allowing him to go home, the security agent warned Rev. Alesius not to touch on the subject of abortion in his sermons: let everyone who wishes have abortions.
It appears that the KGB is interested in having as many Lithuanians as possible have abortions. The fewer Lithuanians there are, the more foreigners will come to Lithuania and the faster will Lithuania be russified.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is asking all priests whom the KGB recruits to work as collaborators to report this most inhuman KGB activity—compeling a man to act against the Church, his Motherland and himself—in this publication. The more that society and the world openly speak of the KGB's crimes, the fewer such crimes will be committed. Black deeds fear the light of day.
In 1977 and the beginning of 1978, the believers Šeduikis and Dargužaitė sent the Telšiai Executive Committee, the party comittee and the Republic's agencies various statements regarding the construction of wayside shrines. The government agencies made no reply to most of the statements. Instead, the Telšiai Rayon government demolished Šeduikis' wayside shrine on April 24, 1978. A group of the faithful addressed the following protest to the highest USSR government:
To: Secretary General of the Communist Party Central
Committee, L. Brezhnev. Copies to: Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee;
Telšiai Rayon Executive Committee. A Letter of Protest from: Catholics of the city of Telšiai. May 1978
We, the undersigned residents of Telšiai, are extremely distressed at the benavior of the Telšiai Rayon officials. They act in the name of the entire Soviet government, as well as yours, Comrade Brezhnev, and shame the Soviet government with their actions.
The new LSSR Constitution was adopted and became effective on April 20th of this year. It stresses the equal rights of all citizens, and of course, the equality of believers and non-believers as well. Only a few days later, on April 24th, as though offering a rebuttal to these guarantees, the Telšiai Rayon government demolished an artistic wayside shrine erected near a home in which a priest and an organist reside. In issue No. 12 of Švyturys (Beacon), the writer Petkevičius calls the demolition of crosses and wayside shrines valdalism, hooliganism. We obviously cannot understand how such deeds can be performed by the highest Rayon government—representatives of the Soviet government. The Rayon Executive Committee has adopted a resolution to demolish a similar wayside shrine in the cemetery, erected by citizen Dargužaitė on her family plot.
The Telšiai Rayon government is even using clearly discriminatory measures against believers. To prevent the faithful from purchasing Christmas trees for Christmas, the TelšiaiRayon Executive Committee allows them to be sold only beginning December 26th. Such an unusual practice was criticized in 1977 in issue No. 10 of Švyturys (Beacon) and on December 25, 1977 by the Lithuanian Communist Party Central Committee organ Tiesa (Truth). After completing their day's work, the faithful of Telšiai travel to other Rayons to purchase Christmas trees (in other Rayons, for instance in Šiauliai, Christmas trees are sold beginning December 19th). The faithful waste a great deal of time and incur great expense.
We support all the administrative agencies of the Soviet government with our diligent work and they in turn cause us needless expense, trouble and waste our precious time with their directives.
Students who attend church are interrogated en masse at the Telšiai schools. During December 12-16, 1977, believing students were interrogated at the Third and Fourth Middle Schools, they were even summoned from classes. During those days, certain classes were cut short or cancelled.
Currently, even state security organs are summoning believing students and choir members for interrogation. This is done on such a scale, that the entire city is talking of it. In view of all these facts, we feel completely without any rights.
Is it possible that, under the new Constitution, believers are considered criminals, and more restrictions are placed on the rights of believers? No, we cannot even admit the thought that all this is occuring with your consent. We ask that steps be quickly taken, we call on your humaneness—for you so often speak out for the rights of those workers who are exploited in other countries. Defend our rights, as Soviet citizens, too!
The Cathedral organist has written the Telšiai Executive Committee and the Commissioner for Religious Affairs. Although every Soviet agency is obliged to reply to statements from citizens within 30 days, the faithful do not receive replies from the above-named agencies. The Religious Affairs Commissioner also does not defend the rights of believers—after repeated statements, he replied that he does not have the right to change the decision of the
Rayon Executive Committee.
We therefore turn to you. We ask that you direct the Telšiai Rayon government to rebuild the cross which was destroyed, to prevent the faithful being wronged and debased, to prevent the graves of believers being vandalized, to educate all government officials in the spirit of communism, because they shame the Soviet Union by abusing their Soviet position.
The Protest was signed by 130 Believers of the City of Telšiai.
To: Religious Affairs Commissioner, Comrade Tumėnas.
Copies to: Telšiai Rayon Executive Committee and Telšiai Rayon Party Commėttee.
A statement from: (Miss) Daugužaitė, Danutė, daughter of Juozapas, residing in Telšiai, Pionierių g. 13/1.
I ask you, Comrade Commissioner, to defend the monument I have erected as a believer, because the Constitution guarantees us rights and freedoms. Now, as you will read in the directive, I am being ordered to demolish the monument. I refuse to do so. As you can see from directive No. 325, I erected it for my deceased family members and had permission to do so. Being a believer, I placed symbols of the faith on the monument to my deceased believers: a cross and statuettes. It appears that that same monument without symbols of faith is acceptable and can be approved, but with symbols of faith, it no longer can, as stated in the directive which crudely affronts the approved project. How should we understand this? Priests do not bless monuments without religious symbols, therefore why is it forbidden in this case?
The Telšiai Chancery Office issued memorandum No. 577 for the faithful on October 11, 1954: "Crosses may be erected not only in churchyards, but also in the yards of the faithful." The Chancery Office reiterated this in its order No. 227 dated October 7, 1972. These memoranda to the faithful have not been rescinded. They apply to my monument as well because it has a cross. In the meantime, wayside shrines without religious symbols have been erected in Telšiai near the museum, the forestry building, the Džiugas Hill and elsewhere. Non-believers are allowed to do this, but believers are not. In other words, the rights of believers are not equal to those of non-believers.
I therefore appeal to you and ask that you reprimand the Telšiai Rayon officials for their arbitrary actions. If I receive no help from you, I will be forced to appeal to the USSR Council for Religious Affairs. I await a reply from you personally.
December 23, 1977 (Miss) Dargužaitė
Pociūnėliai (Rayon of Radviliškis)
On February 6, 1978, V. Vaišutis, head of the finance department of the Rayon of Radviliškis stated the following to the Rev. A. Jokū-bauskas: "We used taxes to bring down the exploiters, we have driven the population to collective farms, we will also handle you with taxes." He did as he promised—in 1978 the taxes of Rev. Jokūbauskas tripled over the previous year to a total of 812 rubles.
On May 26, 1978, at the order of the Rayon government, Skėmiai district chairman Nenertavičius summoned to the Pociūnėliai state farm office representatives of the Pociūnėliai parish—the parish council—and demanded that they sign an agreement with the district to dismiss Rev. Jokūbauskas from his position as chairman of the church committee. The faithful refused to sign a new agreement with the district and as for re-electing a new chairman, they stated: We have elected a chairman who shows the most concern for the church and will not elect another."
The Rayon government is very displeased that the faithful have replaced the parish chairman who resigned by electing the pastor to this position. It appears that, to date, this is the first such occurance in Lithuania.
The faithful of Klaipėda have often appealed to the Telšiai Diocesan Chancery Office, asking that they be assigned another pastor who would show more concern for the material and spiritual affairs of the parish. The current pastor Dean Jonas Baikauskas caters to the atheist government and does not want youngsters to participate in processions or sing in the choir.
The Chronicle notes that there are quite a few such pastors in Lithuania. They think it is better for gray-haired old men to serve at the altar, so long as good relations are maintained with the atheist government. How unfortunate is the impact of fear in the lives of priests!
The Telšiai Diocesan Chancery Office claims it is unable to transfer from parishes pastors who have the backing of the civil government.
On July 8, 1978 unknown vandals shattered the panes and broke the frames of the 14 Stations of the Cross located in the Pavandenė churchyard.
Vice-Chairman Beržinis of the Šiauliai Rayon Executive Committee came to see assistant pastor R. Žuipas on May 26, 1978 and forbade him to instruct children and preach sermons which displease the atheist government, or face the consequences.
In Kuršėnai, Dean Stanislovas Ilinčius does not permit children at the altar. He even chases away the altar boys who have been taught by the assistant pastor. He is thereby not building the living Church, but destroying it.
Šaukėnai (Rayon of Kelmė)
The people of Šaukėnai complain that the solemn and peaceful atmosphere of the Šaukėnai cemetery is constantly being disrupted. A communal bathhouse was built next to the cemetery. After it was closed down, a firing range was set up near the cemetery. Shots are constantly ringing out and people jump at the noise at the graves of their loved ones.
And what of the graves desecrated throughout Lithuania? Crosses are knocked down and broken. You need only visit the old Kelmė cemetery. And what has become of the Šaukėnai Jewish Cemetery? At one time, gravel containing skulls was taken from the cemetery and dumped on the highway.
The Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas, pastor of Viduklė, sent the following telegram of condolence to the Vatican at the death of Pope Paul VI:
"To His Eminence, Cardinal J. Slipij:
"At the death of the great Pope Paul VI, who is rightfully called the apostle of peace and the conscience of the world, we extend through Your Eminence our deepest condolences to the Apostolic See.
"Catholic Lithuania is on her knees praying for the soul of the deceased Pontiff and asks God to choose a courageous and holy Head of the Church of Christ."