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Issued since 1972.
In this issue:
Conscience Above Laws (Protest by Priests Against Church Discrimination )
The Death of Father Karolis Caruckas
On Behalf of National Temperance
Appeal to UNESCO by the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers
Open Letter to His Excellency Bishop J.(ulijus) Steponavičius
Lithuania ........................................... May 1, 1979
A Translation of the Complete Lithuanian Original,
LIETUVOS KATALIKŲ BAŽNYČIOS KRONIKA No. 38
Documenting the Struggle for Human Rights In Soviet-Occupied Lithuania Today
On December 25, 1978, the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers sent to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR a document outlining how the "Regulations for Religious Associations" issued by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR conflict with the Lithuanian SSR Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as other international documents endorsed by the Soviet Union, and asked that the Regulations be repealed.
In a show of solidarity with the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers, priests from all the dioceses of Lithuania have sent various Soviet government agencies statements which we reprint below in full. These statements are vital documents which prove that the large majority of Lithuanian priests have not been broken in spirit and are fully determined to fight the goal of state atheism and stifle the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
To: The Prosecutor General of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics
Copies to: The Chancery of the Vilnius Archdiocese;
Lithuanian SSR Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs under the Council of Ministers of the USSR;
Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers.
A Statement from: The priests of the Vilnius Archdiocese.
During the past several years, our Republic's Rayon Executive Committees have begun to summon for instructions priests and members of the executive organs of local religious communities, demanding that the "Regulations for Religious Associations" issued in 1979 by the Supreme Soviet Presidium of the Lithuanian SSR be fully implemented. Because the above document clearly contradicts the freedom of belief and the free activity of religious associations, the clergy and the believing community is gravely concerned at demands that it be observed in full.
After a serious illness, the pastor of Ceikiniai and member of the Lithuanian Helsinki Group, Father Karolis Garuckas, S.J. died at the hospital of Švenčioniai on April 6, 1979.
The nation lost an active and courageous fighter for basic human rights, and the Church — a zealous and skillful apostle.
A huge crowd of believers from all corners of Lithuania, over one hundred priests, the exiled bishops Julijonas Steponavičius and Vincentas Sladkevičius and the Administrator of the Vilnius Archdiocese, A. Gutauskas, gathered on April 10th to accompany Father Karolis Garuckas on his final journey on this earth and pray for his soul.
The Revs. Jonas Lauriūnas and Algimantas Keina and Msgr. Bronius Antanaitis preached eloquent sermons at the funeral, and Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, member of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers, at the gravesite.
To: His Excellency the Administrator of the Diocese of Telšiai.
An Appeal from: The Priests of the Diocese of Telšiai.
These days we often read in newspapers, see on television news and hear radio bulletins about floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and other calamities whichcause dreadful material damage and cost thousands of lives.
In our country, thank God, there are no great natural disasters. But our nation is drowning in another evil, a flood of drunkedness which claims no fewer victims. Man and women drink too much, so do young people and teenagers; unfortunately, even church servants among our own ranks do also.
People drink "to your health", but in fact health is being undermined; people wish luck, but in fact individuals and the nation as a whole is drowning in misfortune. Moreover, the soul is being destroyed! For Christ has said that drunks will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
April 18, 1979 Document No. 12
To: The United Nations UNESCO organization's
International Conference: "For the Peace and Happy Future of All Children."
Violations of Children's Rights in the Lithuanian SSR
On behalf of the faithful and priests of Lithuania, we thank UNESCO for proclaiming 1979 the International Year of the Child. All the world's people of good will have responded to the urging to assure children all rights and provide proper conditions for them to grow and DEVELOP INTO VALUABLE BUILDERS OF THE FUTURE.
We are best acquainted with the living conditions of children in the Lithuanian SSR and therefore wish to inform UNESCO of them in this letter.
In our country, it is customary to quote Lenin's words: "The best of everything for children!" One example used to illustrate the great concern shown children is the fact that the Soviet Union has 120,000 permanent nursery schools which care for over 13 million children. In fact, the children of the Lithuanian SSR are not dying of starvation and have the opportunity for education, but here, as is rare elsewhere in the world, children are deprived of many of their basic rights.
OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY JULIJONAS STEPONAVIČIUS, APOSTOLIC ADMINISTRATOR OF THE VILNIUS ARCHDIOCESE
Copies to: The Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of Lithuania;
The Kaunas Theological Seminary;
The Catholic Committee for the Defense of the
Rights of Believers.
At the end of 1977, fourth-year seminarian Ričardas Jakutis was expelled from the Kaunas Theological Seminary. A committee headed by the rector of the seminary was formed to investigate his case. On December 20, 1977 the rector publicly announced the findings, to be more accurate, the facts of seminarian Jakutis' immoral behavior. The facts were confirmed by (Mrs) Šorienė in her letter to the seminary rector and by (Miss) Činskytė in her statement to the bishops and diocesan administrators of Lithuania. Seminarian Jakutis did not deny the charges—he admitted his guilt.
Suddenly, we heard unexpected news: Jakutis has been secretly ordained deacon and is functioning as a deacon at the church of Nemenčinė.
On February 6, 1979 Father A.(lfonsas) Svarinskas, at the urging of the faithful, visited Bishop Labukas to inquire who had ordained Jakutis deacon. The bishop did not deny the fact, but claimed he did not know who had ordained him: perhaps the bishops of Belo-russia or the Ukraine . . . On February 7, 1979 the Rev. A. Gutauskas, administrator of the Vilnius archdiocese, told a large group of priests from the Archdiocese of Vilnius, who came to see him about Jakutis, Kazlauskas and his own sudden election to the position of administrator: "Jakutis was ordained by Bishop Labukas."
The faithful of Lithuania heard with great joy the broadcast greeting of the Holy Father to the Lithuanians: "To my brother Lithuanians, I wish the hope of Easter in Christ!" The priests and faithful of Lithuania are very grateful for the Pope's concern.
In all the dioceses after Easter 1979, Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis urged the Deans who were summoned to city executive committees to observe the Regulations for Religious Associations. We will report more fully in the next issue of theChronicle.
Bishop R. Krikščiūnas is saying that the Soviet government will not permit Lithuania's bishops to go to Poland when the Holy Father visits there. The government argues that the Pope's visit to Poland is not a church matter, but only a return visit to Polish authorities by the head of the Vatican State.
On February 6, 1979 a security police employee arrived at the Fifth Middle School in Telšiai and interrogated the following grade 10B students: Auksė Juodviršytė, Almantas Fabijonas, Rolandas Jankauskas. Arūnas Razminas was also interrogated somewhat later. The security agent wanted to recruit the students to work as security police agents. He ordered the students to spy on their friends.
Tenth-grader Romas Perminąs of the Fourth Middle School in Telšiai was systematically persecuted for several months. (Dec. 1978 — Feb. 1979) with the same goal in mind. Security agents meet him near his home on his way to school or coming back; moreover they order him to come to fixed meeting places which the student is ordered to keep secret. Romas Perminąs told the security agents he would not keep anything secret and told all comers about everything in an attempt to rid himself of the security agents. During January-February 1979, the teenager tried to avoid meeting the security agents: he hid from them, did not arrive at the appointed time or bluntly told them he would not come. When this happened, the agents tried to intimidate him in various ways. For example, one security agent even threatened the teenager they would castrate him if they catch him. The security police is especially anxious to have an agent in the tenth grade of the Fourth Middle School in Telšiai because not a single tenth-grade boy has joined the Communist Youth League and two students serve at Holy Mass. Vice Principal Andrijauskas threatened that the Party Bureau will investigate the class because of these "offenses."
1. Alma Mater, No. 1. This new publication appeared at the beginning of 1979. The publishers of Alma Mater are prepared to act as Defenders of the Truth. The publication is well edited, current and aimed at university students. Lithuania has long needed such a publication. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania wishes the publishers of Alma Mater God's blessing in making a valuable contribution to the future of the Nation and the Church.
2. Aušra (The Dawn), No. 15 (55;. Date of publication: February 1979. The Chroniclerecommends that priests and intellectuals thoroughly acquaint themselves with the petition of L. Regelsonas "To the Authorities of the USSR." L. Regelsonas, a scholar, convert and the father of a large family, can be held up as an example to many on how truth must be cherished and courageously defended. The issue contains much valuable information.
3. Dievas ir Tėvynė (God and Country), No. 11. The issue contains the revised version of the poem by Bičiulis "Night Visitor" and the story "Night" which tells of a priest's interrogation at KGB headquarters.
4. Tiesos kelias (The way of the Truth), No. 12. The issue reportas on the activity of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of the Rights of Believers, on Pope John Paul II and his work. Several articles are included on the pastoral ministry of priests and on the life of the Catholic Church in the modern world: an outline of Pope John Paul II's encyclical "Young Revolutionaries," etc.