Read it and pass it on! Issued since 1972.
CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA No. 37
"God is our refuge and our strength" (ps. 45:2)
Despite decades of persecution, we Catholics of Lithuania are still sufficiently strong and determined in our fight for God, the existence of the Church and basic human rights. We are strong because we are not alone: God is our refuge and our strength! With us is the "Pope of the East" speaking for the Church of Silence and has assigned half his heart to the persecuted and fighting Church of Lithuania. Vatican Radio gives us strength with continually new information—our suffering and struggle are finding an ever broader response throughout the world. Bishop Thomas Kelly, Secretary General of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, heard the appeal of America's Knights of Lithuania (hats off to our emigrant youth!) and proclaimed February 11th a day of prayer for Lithuania.
And so, on behalf of the Church and our Fatherland, we Catholics of Lithuania sincerely thank the bishops, priests and faithful of the U.S. for their prayers and good wishes, as well as all people of good will about whose efforts we may not even know. We thank the people of the U.S. government and Vatican Radio for transmitting to the world in various languages the appeal of the Knights of Lithuania.
May God reward all who do good! And we, for our part, will continue our persevering fight with the goal of having Christ rule in our Fatherland.
Catholics of Lithuania
Secretariat of State Vatican, December 18, 1978
His Holiness John Paul II gratefully acknowledges the greetings which you and nine other Lithuanian priests sent by telegram upon his election to St. Peter's Throne.
The Holy Father lovingly thanks you for this expression of unity and love and, in praying God to bestow every blessing on His greatiy beloved Lithuanian Church, grants you and the other priests whose names are mentioned in the telegram his Apostolic Blessings, as a sigh of special favor.
I also take this opportunity to express my own respect and sincere wishes.
+ J. Caprio Subst.
N.B. The acknowledgment was sent in the name of the Rev. Mykolas Buožius.
Currently Lithuania is undergoing internal social processes which cause great concern and result from the spread of atheism and an ever deepening spiritual vacuum. In the absence of noble incentives, this vacuum is very quickly filled by the need to satisfy primitive instincts, which drag down man's entire spiritual life: morals decline, the will weakens, national ideals are traded in for cheap pleasures or a petty way of life.
After occuring in men's souls, these changes materialize in the nation's public life in such fatal vices as a rise in juvenile delinquency, loose morals, the spread of venereal diseases, abortions and a decline in the natural population growth, mass alcoholism and a catastropic break-up of families. There arise simultaneously militant ideologies justifying and spreading these evils, whose representatives in the field of atheist education demoralize weak-willed individuals and the youth in particular not merely by bad example but even often by brutal force.
The family has always been the basic transmitter of religious and moral standards and the educator of the younger generation. Now, it is finding increasingly difficult in opposing the corrupting influence of an evil atmosphere. Who can count the believing parents who weep over their strayed children? Weak, separated, drunken or non-believing familis are even less capable of providing their children with proper moral upbringing. We can thus expect increasingly more divorces and moral collapse in future generations. And no one can say whether or not our nation will fall into complete destruction and perdition by "progressing" in this way.
From: The Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers
To: The Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. The Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the
Lithuanian S.S.R The Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of Lithuania Petras Anilionis, the Commissioner for Religious Affairs
Thirty years ago, on December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the U.N. passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which the Soviet Union signed, obliging itself to implement it conscientiously. The Soviet press even affirms that the new constitution of the U.S.S.R guarantees significantly more rights and freedoms than those foreseen in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Catholics of Lithuania, having undergone various forms of discrimination during the post-war years, (Lithuania, whose 3.87 million people were 87% Roman Catholic, was recaptured by the U.S.S.R. from Germany in 1945 — Translators Note) hoped that on the solemn jubilee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Soviet government would grant them at least a little more rights and freedoms, but things have gone just the opposite. On November 24, 1978, Commissioner Petras Anilionis, of the Commission for Religious Affairs summoned to Vilnius all the bishops and diocesan administrators of Lithuania and sternly emphasized that thenceforth they would have to adhere completely to the "Regulations for Religious Associations", ratified July 28, 1976 by the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian S.S.R., and that those who did not would be severely punished.
Msgr. Česlovas Krivaitis, the administrator of the Vilnius archdiocese, submitted his written resignation from his post at the beginning of 1979, and the advisors of the Vilnius archdiocese, the Revs. A. Gutauskas, K. Gajauskas and J. Morkūnas, hastely "elected" as new administrator the pastor of St. Teresa's parish, the Rev. Algis Gutauskas.
On the surface, everything seems normal: One priest resigned because he wanted to do pastoral work in a parish, and another was elected to replace him.
But in fact, the "resignation" and "election" took place at the direction of the KGB's "magic wand." So there naturally arises the -question, why the security police needed a new administrator for the Vilnius archdiocese? The former Vilnius arch-diocesan administrator had lost all authority and had no chance of ever being appointed bishop by the Holy See. And the Soviet government would very much like to have a new bishop at the head of the Vilnius archdiocese, but not exiled Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius. After the election of John Paul II to the papacy, the KGB understood that the Vilnius archdiocese needs a new administrator with the best chance of becoming bishop in the future, and perhaps even cardinal. This candidate was the Rev. Algis Gutauskas, who counts many Polish priests as friends who could recommend him for bishop. Moreover, Father Gutauskas has not compromised himself morally and is sufficiently timid and obedient to the Soviet government. The people of Vilnius could not believe how zealously he removed children from processions because it is forbidden by Soviet law; he just as zealously defended the KGB collaborator seminarian Jakutis (the Chronicle has written extensively on this subject).
Because the priests of the Archdiocese of Vilnius are certain that the new administrator, Father Gutauskas, has long ago fallen into the KGB trap, they fervently trust that Pope John Paul II will never elevate him to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
On November 1, 1978, the Rev. Virgilijus Jaugelis publicly celebrated Holy Mass at the church of Kybartai. For many years he tried to enroll at the Kaunas Theological Seminary, but every year the KGB removed his name from the list of candidates. In 1974, Father Virgilijus Jaugelis was put on trial for duplicating the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and the following year was released half-dead from labor camp, his sentence not yet completed. Let him die at home. However, he did not die, but determinedly studied for the priesthood.
Father Jaugelis' public appearance at the altar undoubtedly caused the KGB great concern. It means that the time is passed when a youth who did not want to become a KGB collaborator, but only a good priest,could be terrorized in various ways; it means that even good seminarians can no longer be intimidated to any great extent: it is obviously possible to become a priest even without the KGB's favor!
"What can be done?" asked all those who wish to bury the Catholic Church of Lithuania as rapidly as possible. Someone conceived a plan: Let us compromise the underground activity of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and those bishops who consecrate new priests without the KGB's permission.
At the end of 1978, unexpected news travelled across Lithuania: Seminarian Ričardas Jakutis who had been expelled from the Kaunas Theological Seminary in 1977 for immoral behavior was working as a deacon at the church of Nemenčinė! Which bishop could have ordained such a seminarian? Priests who collaborate with the Soviet government began to spread rumors that this was done by one of the exiled bishops—either Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius or Bishop VincentasSladkevičius—or perhaps a clandestine Ukrainian Catholic bishop.
On January 25, 1979, the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers sent a statement (Document No. 6) to the Secretary General of the Soviet Union Communist Party, Leonid Brezhnev, detailing how religious-artistic values are being barbarically annihilated in Lithuania.
In a January 25, 1979 statement (Document No. 7) to the Lithuanian SSR Prosecutor, the Catholic Committee protests the discrimination against priest and believers as related to the trials of the Revs. Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius.
In a January 26, 1979 statement (Document No. 8) to Leonid Brezhnev, Secretary General of the Soviet Union Communist Party, the Catholic Committee tells of the brutal discrimination against the faithful of Moldavia and asks him to intervene personally to stop the persecution. The statement was written in response to an appeal sent to the Catholic Committee by the Catholics of Moldavia.
In a January 31, 1979 statement to the Lithuanian Prosecutor, the Catholic Committee asks that the religious book Krikščionis pasaulyje (A Christian in the World) which was confiscated by the Raseiniai militia be returned to Father Virgilijus Jaugelis.
The Rev. Sigitas Tamkevičius, pastor of Kybartai, appealed to the Vilkaviškis RayonCourt the 50-ruble fine imposed on him for conducting an All Souls Day procession to the cemetery.
The first trial session was held on Decenber 1, 1978. The courtroom and the hallways were packed with believers. Judge Stankaitis kept postponing Father Tamkevičius' trial in the hope that the people would disperse. But something unexpected happened: the crowd which had gathered outside the court building began to say the Rosary aloud. Under the pretense that certain documents were missing, the frightened Judge Stankaitis postponed the case. The faithful in the courtroom began to sing "Marija, Marija" ("Mary, Mary"). The judge attempted to silence them but was unsuccessful. It is difficult to describe the mood prevailing in the courtroom. From the portrait hanging on the wall stared the malevolent eyes of Lenin, while the faithful sang with tears in their eyes: "Mary, Mary . . . lighten our slavery . . .save us from the terrible foe." Swept by enthusiasm, the faithful standing outside joined in the singing, and this beautiful hymn so indicative of the spirit of the downtrodded Lithuanian rang far through the streets of Vilkaviškis.
Because a huge crowd of the faithful—some 500 people—had gathered for the trial, someone ordered that the second trial session be held at a moment's notice, without anyone being notified. Father Tamkevičius was brought the summons during the night of December 20th and the trial was set to begin at 10:00 A.M. the following morning. Unfortunately, the pastor had left after the evening services, the summons was not served and the trial was again postponed.
The third time, the trial session was held on January 10, 1979. The summonses were again served only the night before, so that as few believers as possible would attend the trial. Unfortunately, this
At the time of the trial of Rev. Sigitas Tamkevičius. Forbidden to enter the courtroom, the faithful gather outside.
To: The Chairman ofthe LSSR State Security Committee Copies to: The Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers;
The Bishops ofthe Kaunas Archdiocese and the Vilkaviškis Diocese
A Statement from: The Rev. Sigitas Tamkevičius, pastor of Kybartai, residing in Kybartai, Darvino g. 12.
On my way to Vilnius on June 1, 1978, I was involved in an accident near Pirčiupis. My car struck a pick-up truck driven by Aleksandras Razvinavičius. The Motor Vehicle Department found Razvinavičius responsible for the accident. (I enclose a copy of the ruling by the Varėna Motor Vehicle Department.)
Two months later employees of the State Security Committee learned of this incident. Razvinavičius himself told me about the actions of officials of this Committee, prior to becoming your collaborator. I visited him on August 23rd, 1978. The very day he had been summoned to Šalčininkai where he met with a security police employee from Vilnius. The visiting security agent questioned him closely about the accident and asked whether I could have given the motor vehicle inspectors a bribe. The agent urged Razvinavičius to contest the motor vehicle department's findings and go to court to prove me responsible for the accident. He promised to help him win the case. From what the security agent said, Razvinavičius understood that the security police wanted to help him and detested me. The official stated that I was very dangerous to them but they have nothing against me, yet I must be taken care of, at least compromised. The security official explained that he knows the Supreme Court judges, therefore Razvinavičius will certanly win this case. He also promised to "handle everything" at the Varėna motor vehicle department to Razvinavičius' advantage. Because the security agent let it slip that several pages were already missing from my accident file at the Varėna motor vehicle Department, it is quite obvious that security officials "are handling the documents." The agent even offered to write statements to the court, Razvinavičius would merely have to sign them. For this favor to the security police, the official promised to obtain for Razvinavičius an allotment for a new pick-up-truck from the social provisions department, which, as a disabled person, Razvinavičius could purchase for only 20 percent of the cost, i.e. 200 rubles.
In his sermon on January 14, 1979, the Rev. Juozas Indriūnas, Assistant Pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in Kaunas, brought to light a series of facts about certain immoral instructors at schools of higher learning who forcibly corrupt women students and thereby damage the youth of Lithuania. A female student who wishes to receive credit for a course is forced to become the victim of her depraved instructor.
At present, the only means of fighting against the degree-holding grave-diggers of our youth's morals who are armed with Party cards and backed by the government is to speak out in public. Father Indriūnas therefore mentioned the names of Professor T. Šiurkus, Instructor Ž. Dagis and others in the hope of stopping this crippling of young people.
After the sermon, the administration of the Kaunas Medical Institute and the KGB began to buzz like hornets. They demanded through the Kaunas Archdiocesan Chancery that Father Indriūnas withdraw the "slander", or face court charges. The priest was not intimidated and did not recant his words. The KGB is currently drawing up an indictment against the Rev. Juozas Indriūnas.
Disturbed over the fate of their beloved priest, the faithful of Kaunas have sent a series of statements to various government agencies. We reprint one of them, signed by 300 of the faithful:
To: The Chairman of the Kaunas City Executive Committee.
We were extremely incensed when we heard that the administration of the Kaunas Medical Institute, through the Kaunas Chancery wants to force Father Indriūnas to recant the so-called "lie" about the circumstances surrounding the death of Professor T. Šiurkus. The people of Kaunas are well aware of the circumstances surrounding the death of Professor Šiurkus. Your attempt to conceal this generally known fact casts a long shadow over you and causes the people to lose confidence in your agencies.
March 19th of this year marks seven years since the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania knocked on the doors of a handful of readers in 1972. Small circulation, dirth of information and readers' fear were obstacles which the Chronicle overcame with great difficulty. After several months, the Chronicle found its way into the hands of the security police and indictment No. 345 was lodged against this "Dangerous state criminal." After the November 1973 campaign of charges, the security police was jubilant — The Chroniclehas been liquidated! But it did not die. Years passed and over the years information increased, people's hearts became bolder, the circle of readers grew wider—the Chroniclecrossed the Fatherland's borders and opened the eyes of many.
Today the Chronicle is the nation's conscience, the voice of the militant Church and a cry for help to the entire world.
There would be no Chronicle without the Plumpa's, Nijolės, Lapienas', without the sacrifice of the noblest Lithuanians. The Chronicle is therefore most indebted to those who suffer for the word of truth behind barbed wires.
The Chronicle would be a weak infant were it not for hundreds of Lithuanians who risk their freedom but nonetheless painstakingly gather information, disseminate and read those simple pages which are seeped in suffering and heroism.
The Chronicle is extremely grateful to the brothers and sisters in the West, for without their diligent labor the word of truth would bounce off the Iron Curtain and merely echo back, without reaching the wide world.
Many ask why the Chronicle survives? Why haven't the security agents managed to strangle it over these seven years? The Chronicle lives, because living hands are are folded in prayer!
Editors of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania
Viktoras Petkus, a member of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group, has been transferred from the Vladimir Prison to the Chistopol prison. In preparation for the 1980 Olympics, Vladimir Prison has been abolished and transferred to remote Chistopol.
The current address of Viktoras Petkus:
422950 Tatarskaya ASSR Chistopol, Ue 148 st. 4.
On January 20, 1979 Ona Pranskūnaitė completed serving the sentence imposed on her for making copies and circulating the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and was released. The evening of that same day she returned by airplane to Kaunas. The people of Kaunas greeted (Miss) Pranskūnaitė at the airport with flowers; festive welcome-home gatherings were held in several places. Ona Pranskunaitė returned tired but in a very good mood.
The martyr P.(etras) Paulaitis writes:
I keep going forward. I've already completed 32 years, and only some three more are left. I calmly look to the future which will be kind, if not to me, to my Fatherland, to my countrymen certainly. But always and everywhere: "Thy will be done!"
After Petras Anilionis assumed the post of Commissioner for Religious Affairs, his "concern" for Church matters was immediately felt. For the third month running, the priests of Lithuania do not have liturgical calendars. Apparently, even permission to print such calendars can come only from the Kremlin!
At the beginning of 1979, Father Bronius Laurinavičius, pastor of Adutiškis, joined the Lithuanian Helsinki Group, whose aim is to monitor how the Helsinki agreements are implemented in daily life in Soviet Lithuania. Father Laurinavičius is one of the most zealous and courageous priests of the Vilnius Archdiocese. His statements have appeared many times in the pages of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
At the start of December 1978, a proposal was drawn up to transfer priests within the Kaunas Archdiocese and submitted to Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis for his approval.
For nearly two months Anilionis' agency pondered with the KGB how to reject these appointments which were unacceptable to the security police. The proposal called for relieving the Rev. Izidorius Butkus of his post as Chancellor of the Kaunas Archdiocese and appointing in his stead the Rev. Pranas Juozapavičius, rector of the Kaunas Cathedral. Anilionis rejected the bishop's proposal on February 1st on the pretext that "Rev. Juozapavičius should not be slighted." The commissioner did not dare say that "our man, Rev. Izidorius Butkus, should not be slighted."
Lithuanian Catholic students are very grateful to Vatican Radio for publicizing the resistance of school children to a loss of religious faith under duress.
It would be good if Vatican Radio were to prepare a 10-minute program devoted to school-children for its Saturday broadcasts. Our children need much help to grow into decent individuals. At present, they hear only lies about the faith and the Fatherland.
One teacher from Samogitia writes: "Our school has some truly amazing children. One eighth-grade girl ended her composition with the words: "Let us therefore choose courage, let us discipline our will and, when the need arises, we will stand to defend our Lithuania!
A fifth-grade student named Fabijonavičiutė has been terrorized for her faith over the past several years at the Fifth Middle School in Telšiai. Here are some instances:
In October 1977, the school's assistant principal warned the student not to attend church. That same year, the assistant principal again intimidated the girl on several occasions, demanding when she would mend her ways and stop going to church.
After the 1978 Christmas holidays, certain Western press correspondents rushed to report that this year's Christmas holidays in the Soviet Union had passed in a peaceful and orderly fashion, as never before since the war. There were no Communist Youths at the churches to disrupt services, there were no teachers to chase children from churches, etc. This was supposedly true of Moscow, Kiev, Vilnius. In this same vain, others went even further by reporting that the relationship between the government and religion and the Church is supposedly normalizing in the Soviet Union. These correspondents did not know what was happening in the more remote places they have never visited and with whose inhabitants they have had no contact whatsoever.
In the district of the Western Ukraine, where the majority of the population consists of Catholic Ukrainians, the situation is quite different. It must be pointed out that Soviet organs follow in the footsteps of Czarist administrators in never calling a Ukrainian Catholic, but just Uniate in order to debase him as a schismatic of the Russian Orthodox Church who has sided with the Catholic Church. The people of the Ukraine, especially the Western portion, have been Catholic since ancient times, but of the Eastern rite: this was and still is equally intolerable to both Czarist and present-day Russia. If a Ukrainian calls himself Catholic, he is assail-led: "You are not Catholic, but Uniate in other words, you have broken away from Mother Russia and now spread discord between the people of Russia and the Ukraine. Just before Christmas, a commission from Kiev and Moscow arrived in Western Ukraine and began to summon the remaining old and ailing Ukrainian Catholic Priests. Those who could not come in person were visited at home and were subjected to exhausting talks. The purpose of these talks was to terrorize the priests so they will not have the courage to conduct services when they go visiting or receive the faithful in their homes to attend services. These priests, most of whom were prosecuted several times simply for refusing to be Russian Orthodox, have already been robbed of everything. Already in 1946, during the "first blow" as the security police has dubbed it, when all Ukrainian Catholic bishops and priests were herded together and sent to concentration camps, their church articles and religious literature were stolen. Then, during the "second blow" in 1957, those priests who returned home after the 1953 amnesty were denuded of everything, even ordinary dishes and boxes were taken on the suspicion that they might be used for Holy Mass. After the "second blow" (it was to be the last) few Ukrainian Catholic priests were left. And these were elderly, ailing and broken by torture in labor camps. Now they once again have no peace. The Chekists mock them: "You will have no peace even in death; we will watch who attended your funeral, what is written on your tombstone, etc. A Catholic priest will die somewhere, his friends will bury him and then they will be interrogated, threatened and harrassed in various ways . . ." People who attend services at the home of a Catholic priest are often detained by Government representatives, are dismissed from work, etc. It should be known that every Ukrainian Catholic priest is followed by a whole band of security police collaborators. He can be taken off a bus or train at any time and searched without any reason. The visiting commission warned: "Your Uniate Church is not legal—go pray in the Orthodox churches." To the question of why they don't register the Ukrainian Catholics, as they do other Catholics, they replied: "You are not Catholics; you are Uniates". The priests of the Ukraine complain: "Vatican representatives visited Moscow but did they ever submit the demand of Ukrainian Catholics to Moscow authorities? Five million Ukrainian Catholics still know nothing of this."
Monsignor Adolfas Sabaliauskas, a well-known writer (pen-name Žalia Rūta), and great collector of folklore, folk art and musical instruments, erected a beautiful Lithuanian-style chapel near his birthplace in the tiny cemetery of Mielaišiai in the Rayon of Biržai and asked his relatives to bury him there.
People from the surrounding area used the chapel: They held wakes for their dead through the night and the following day buried the decedent in the cemetery after the priest conducted services.
But later under the Soviet government, the chairman of the Geidžiūnai District confiscated the keys to the chapel and forbade people to pray there. According to local residents, the chairman intends to convert the chapel into a grain warehouse.
After Msgr. Sabaliauskas died in 1950, his friends took his remains to the chapel in accordance with his wishes, but when they could not find the key they cut a hole in the outside wall under the altar, inserted the casket and closed it up again.
Aušra (The Dawn) No. 14 (54). The issue is dated December 1978. It contains a statement by Lithuanian Helsinki Group member Rev. Karolis Garuckas, an article entitled "Trading in Nations", etc. The news section contains items on the Catholic Committee for the defense of the Rights of Believers, stepped-up russification in Lithuania, etc.
Dievas ir Tėvynė (God and Country) No. 10. Half of this issue is devoted to the poem "Night Visitor" signed with the pen name Bičiulis (Friend), the remaining portion contains three articles: "Aren't You Ashamed!", "All Lithuanians for the Nation's Purity" and "The Summit of Humanity." The issue appeared in February 1979.
Tiesos kelias (Way of Truth) No. 11. This issue writes about Pope John Paul II, the International Year of the Child, the defense of children's rights; much information is presented on the life of the Catholic Church.
Fellow Lithuanians, Don't Forget!
P.(etras) Plumpa, N.(ijolė) Sadūnaitė, S.(ergei) Kovalev, V.(la-das) Lapienis, B.(alys) Gajauskas, V.(iktoras) Petkus and others who bear the shackles of prison to that you might freely live and believe!