On February 21, 1980, a huge crowd of believers and about sixty priests, some from the Archdiocese of Vilnius and others from various places in Lithuania, gathered in St. Theresa's Church in Vilnius. During the services, prayers were said for the nation's temperance. Most participants made abstinence or temperance resolutions.
The initiative of the Vilnius priests, which is so beneficial to the temperance movement, is to be congratulated.
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[Miss] Alfreda Zutkutė, a resident of Vilnius, is being terrorized for her religious beliefs, and efforts are being made to confine her to a psychiatric hospital. On January 15,1980, in a statement to General Secretary Brezhnev of the Soviet Union Communist Party Central Committee, Zutkutė told how KGB officials took her and her son to a psychiatric hospital for a medical examination, but the Doctors' Commission found the mother and son healthy and declined to admit them to the hospital. According to KGB officials, Zutkutė is harming her son with a religious upbringing and must be deprived of her rights as a mother.
"To: Comrade L. Brezhnev, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
"I, [Miss] Teresė Pliuiraitė, daughter of Petras, born in 1971.
"I, Tomas Pliuira, son of Petras, born in 1972,
"I, Tadas Pliuira , son of Petras, born 1974, and our mother [Mrs.] Aldona Pliuirienė, daughter of Antanas, appeal to you on the occasion of the International Year of the Child with the following request:
"We ask that you grant amnesty to our father, Petras Plumpa, son of Vladas, sentenced in 1973 to eight years' imprisonment because of religious literature. He is serving his term in a labor camp: Perm Region Chusovskij Rayon st. Vsesviatskaya VS389/35.
"We miss him very much. It is very difficult for us alone; we are waiting for him and ask you sincerely to help us.
23 Akcijos St., Apt. 2
The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR sent the following reply: "We inform you that your request for mercy for your husband has been deliberated and dismissed."
Early in January, 1980, the diocesan chanceries submitted information concerning the present situation of parishes to the Religious Affairs Commissioner.
The chanceries of the Telšiai Diocese and the local Soviet government received no information whatsoever from the dean's offices of Mažeikiai, Plungė, and Šilute, while the Tauragė Deanery submitted data only on revenues and expenses. Other offices also submitted incomplete information because not all parishes reported back to them.
The chanceries of other dioceses fabricated much of the information on the religious situation of parishes because many priests refused to submit data to the atheists.
It is interesting to speculate on the meaningf ullness and accuracy of such diocesan "reports" obtained under such circumstances and then sent to the commissioner. When will the chanceries have the courage to refuse to submit any information, be it real or imagined?
In February of this year the priests of Kėdainiai Rayon received the following summons: "At 2 p.m. on February 18,1980, a meeting between cult servants and employees of the Kėdainiai Rayon Executive Committee will be held at the conference room of the rayonexecutive committee. You are obliged to attend."
Only four priests out of the fifteen working in the rayon attended, but when they realized that they had acted foolishly, they disappeared.
The following day, Committee Vice Chairman Juškevičius summoned Kėdainiai parish Assistant Pastor Kęstutis Daknevičius for a talk. This occurred on February 20.
Vice Chairman: "Why weren't you at the lecture?"
Father Daknevičius: "We had a funeral."
Vice Chairman: "That's not a good excuse."
Father Daknevičius: "I think it's very good."
Vice Chairman: "You should have told the people that the rayon authorities had summoned you! — No! You should not have said that we had summoned you but that you were busy and did not have the time. You must do what you are told and stay in your place."
Father Daknevičius: "I was in my place."
Following this exchange, the vice chairman ordered him to write an explanation. The priest maintained that he writes explanations only to the bishop.
Without having achieved his purpose, the vice chairman wrote Father Daknevičius an admonition, which the priest, understandably, did not sign.
On February 21 the Dean of Kėdainiai, Antanas Lileika, was summoned for a talk, but he also did not apologize for his "offenses."
On February 28, 1980, an atheistic conference was planned at the Cultural Center of the Šilupe Collective Farm. Fearing that religious believers might boycott the conference, the atheists of Vilkaviškis Rayon used a ruse. The invitations stated that it would be a theoretical conference, and the word was spread that it would deal with the art of cooking. Invitations were sent out to the more active Catholics.
Bronius Jauniškis from Vilnius was the main speaker at the conference. According to him there are 242 nuns in Kaunas; there are sixty-eight nuns in Panevežys; Vilnius has five communities of nuns; pastors are setting up miniature convents near their rectories.
Third Secretary Tevelis of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Committee addressed the conference angrily. He especially attacked the so-called reactionary priests who exist also in Vilkaviškis Rayon. Reactionary priests buried the late Father Jaugelis in the church steeple and made him into a saint, while he was, in fact, a criminal who distributed anti-Soviet literature. The pastor of Pajevonys, Father V. Jalinskas, had stated in his sermon that "Herods tormented him to death."
At the entrance to the Cultural Center, all participants were registered according to prepared lists. Every institution, organization, or collective farm had to send an assigned number of women.
On February 24, 1980, the chairman of the voting commission and the party secretary came to see the Šiauliai resident Juozas Šileikis and asked him why he does not participate in elections. Šileikis explained that he is a believer and that the candidates presented by the atheists did not defend the interests of believers but denounced them. Therefore, he saw no reason to vote for them.
Adutiškis (Švencionys Rayon)
On November 15,1979, Helsinki Watch Group member Father Bronius Laurinavičius sent the USSR Prosecutor General a statement regarding the trial of [Miss] Angelė Ramanauskaitė in Astravas. He demanded that the ruling of the Astravas court be overturned because in instructing children about God Ramanauskaitė had violated neither Soviet nor international law. The statement exhaustively detailed the comedy of the trial, the purpose of which was to repress any religious or national thought among the Lithuanians of Byelorussia (See the Chronicle, no. 40).
The priests here do not visit the sick in hospitals, do not accompany the dead to the cemetery or ring the bells.
On April 17, 1979, in Telšiai, the Dean of Skuodas, Petras Palšis, complained to Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis that all this is forbidden by the Skuodas Executive Committee. The commissioner promised in the presence of all the deans that this matter would be investigated and corrected. Unfortunately, an entire year has passed and the commissioner has not yet fulfilled his promise. Priests should show more courage and begin to go to the cemetery, to ring the bells boldly, etc. The time has come to awake. It is significant that in the town of Skuodas, as in certain other large parishes of the rayon (e.g. Ylakiai), children do not serve at mass, and girls are never seen keeping the vigil of the Blessed Sacrament.
Tryškiai (Telšiai Rayon)
It has been ten years now that the large Tryškiai parish has not had First Communion for children. The church is in a wretched state: for twenty years nothing has been painted or repaired. Pastor Henrikas Sirtautas orders parents not to bring their children to church because the law forbids it.
During vigils before the Blessed Sacrament, the faithful of Klaipėda (especially the youth) say the rosary, asking Mary that the atheists return their confiscated church. Here is the short prayer of intention:
"Blessed Virgin Mary,
"We beseech you that we be allowed to worship God, to pray for peace throughout the world and the salvation of all in the Queen of Peace shrine built by our entire nation. We pray that people may find spiritual renewal in this shrine by the Baltic Sea and that it become a beacon of universal peace."
The caretakers of the Telšiai Rayon cemetery have been ordered to keep records of whether priests take part in funerals. The order was issued by Telšiai General Services Department Director Zusman Shapiro. The recordkeeping has been in effect for several years. Of course, this information is not required for General Services.
In September 1979 the professional association of Vilnius Polyclinic no. 5 organized a medical staff outing by bus to certain historical and ethnographic locations in Lithuania. On the way, the tour stopped in Šiluva, where a religious festival was being held. Some time after returning to Vilnius, the tour participants were subjected to interrogations and persecution. They were ordered to tell why a stop had been made in Šiluva and who had organized the tour. People were summoned by the city party committee. Statements of explanation were demanded. The bus driver was also obliged to write an explanation.
Late in the evening of December 27, 1979, at approximately 10 p.m., an attempt was made to set Alytus church no. 2 on fire by using chemicals. It was sheer luck that the source of the flames was extinguished.
The culprits were recognized and handed over to the police. They were 17- and 18-year-old youths warped by an atheistic upbringing, who had made possibly four previous attempts to break into the church this year.
Under the Regulations for Religious Associations, government representatives in Ukmergė Rayon wrongly and under false pretenses carried out a registration of religious communities. Township chairmen went to homes and stores and lied to the faithful that their signatures were supposedly required for church repairs. Actually, they were collecting signatures to make new contracts with the government whereby the churches would have been handed over to atheist control.
It is in this dishonest manner that signatures were obtained from the faithful of Taujėnai, Žemaitkiemis, Ukmergė, Krikštėnai, Pabaiskas, Vepriai, Deltuva. Later the faithful wrote letters protesting this deception and withdrew their signatures.
On January 7, 1980, the Radio and Television Committee discussed the conduct of two employees as being incompatible with the ethics of a Soviet artist. Under the direction of Staff Inspector Didžiariekis, the party organization "cleansed" non-party members Aleksas Skurevičius and [Mrs.] Janina Bagdonienė. The first is guilty of playing the organ in church and the second of singing in church.