"To: P. Griškevičius, First Secretary of the Lithuanian 
Communist Party Central Committee 
The Lithuanian SSR Council of Ministers 
The Bishops of the Lithuanian Catholic Church
"From: Lithuanian Catholics

"A Statement

"The Lithuanian SSR Constitution proclaims that "The Church in the Lithuanian SSR is separate from the state" (Article 50). The press, radio, television, and propagandists continually proclaim to the people that the Soviet government does not interfere in internal church affairs. Unfortunately, the current reality is causing us, Lithuanian Catholics, great concern.

"It is not clear to us who is currently the actual administration of the theological seminary in Kaunas: the bishops of Lithuania or the Religious Affairs Commissioner's Office. According to Church law, the affairs of the theological seminary should be looked after by the bishops, but actually they are very often handled by Soviet government officials.

"In the fall of 1980 the Religious Affairs Commissioner's Office would not allow seventeen candidates into the seminary. Every year the seminary administration must send the Council for Religious Affairs a list of candidates requesting admission to the seminary, and the council confirms some and rejects others. Is the seminary a place for training party workers that government officials have the deciding word on who may or may not study there?

"In 1980 Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis ordered the fourth-year seminarian Aloyzas Volskis to be expelled from the seminary. Soviet government officials have treated the Kaunas Theological Seminary students similarly throughout the postwar period. Due to their arbitrariness the following seminarians were expelled: Juozapas Giedraitis, Jonas Zubrus, Jonas Lauriūnas, Juozapas Čepėnas, Petras Našlėnas, Vytautas Merkys, and many others.

"Soviet government officials attempt to recruit candidates and seminarians to work for government organs, which do not build the Church but attempt to destroy it. This can be attested to by every courageous young priest. In this manner candidates and seminarians are being blackmailed and hampered in their attempts' to study for the priesthood. Harm is done to their spirit, and at times their physical health is ruined.

"Government officials even interfere in the appointment of the seminary's administrators and faculty. Bishops cannot even appoint a Spiritual Director to the theological seminary without the Religious Affairs Commissioner's consent.

"Such Soviet government interference in the Kaunas Theological Seminary can neither be concealed nor justified. We therefore demand that:

"1. All quotas be abolished from the Kaunas Tehological Seminary beginning in 1981 so that all who wish to become priests may be admitted.
"2. Lithuania's bishops not be hindered in appointing a suitable administration and faculty for the seminary.
"3. Government organs be directed to stop blackmailing candidates and seminarians, who should not be forced to work against their conscience and the interests of the Church.


This statement was signed by the following numbers of believers:
Šakiai — 1459 
Griškabūdis — 676 
Kybartai — 1817 
Kudirkos Naumiestis — 922 
Sasnava — 288 
Patilčiai — 105 
Kaunas — 2816 
Alvitas — 979
(The list of signers is incomplete — Ed.)

"To: His Excellency Liudvikas Povilonis, Chairman of
the Lithuanian Conference of Bishops 
"Copies to: Bishops and Diocesan Administrators 
"From: Lithuanian Catholics

"A Statement

"We are concerned and disturbed by the difficult situation of the sole remaining theological seminary, in Kaunas. We know that last fall seventeen candidates were not admitted to the Kaunas Theological Seminary. They were not rejected by the seminary administration but by the Religious Affairs Commissioner. The fourth-year seminarian Aloyzas Volskis from the Diocese of Telšiai was expelled. He was expelled at the order of the commissioner and not by any decision of the seminary administration. The civil government has treated seminary candidates and students in a similar fashion throughout the postwar period.

"We read in the Soviet press, we hear on radio and television, and at times lecturers explain to us that the Soviet government does not interfere in internal Church matters. If that is the case, then why does the government decide who is to be admitted to the seminary or how many are to be admitted or who is to be rejected and who is to be expelled?

"We believers support the seminary with our donations. Our families provide candidates to the seminary. They are the gems of our families. We cannot remain indifferent when normal activities of the seminary are being disrupted. Furthermore, the number of parishes without pastors is constantly increasing. It is obvious that the shortage of priests is not due to a lack of vocations.

"We therefore ask and dare to demand that you, our Shepherds, will do everything in your power to see to it that all willing and suitable candidates will be permitted to study at the seminary.

"We, believers will support you and the seminary to the utmost."

This statement was signed by the following numbers of believers (an incomplete listing): Skaudvilė — 626 Kvėdarna — 310 Upyna-Girdiškė — 401 Kaltinėnai — 330 Varsėdžiai — 138 Varniai — 377 Lauksodis — 167 Luokė — 407 Viešvėnai — 413 Šilalė and Tubinė — 2,746 the Telšiai cathedral — 4,925

"To: First Secretary P. Griškevičius of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party
"Copies to: The Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of the Catholic Church in Lithuania 
The Rector of the Kaunas Theological Seminary
"From: The Priests of the Diocese of Panevėžys

"A Statement

"The majority of people living in Lithuania are believing Catholics. The Soviet government allows far too few candidates to be admitted to train for the priesthood at the Kaunas Theological Seminary in order that they might replace deceased priests and serve the faithful on the basis of the rights guaranteed by the Lithuanian SSR Constitution and signed international conventions.

"Before World War II, priests in Lithuania were trained by four theological seminaries and a fifth was under construction in Panevėžys. The numbers of seminarians were not limited. In 1946 the Lithuanian Soviet government left only one seminary, in Kaunas, and imposed a quota on the number of seminarians. It reached the point that in 1969 and 1970 only three priests per year were ordained for all of Lithuania. Eighteen priests died in Lithuania in 1970. In 1980 ten priests were ordained for all of Lithuania, whereas eighteen died. The Diocese of Panevėžys produced only one priest but lost five. Parishes are left without priests, and the faithful do not receive spiritual ministry. How difficult it is for believing workers who do not have their own parish pastor: they must travel to other parishes to find a priest.

"Let us briefly look at the situation in the Diocese of Panevėžys. In 1960 the Diocese of Panevėžys still had 177 priests but twenty years later, even though new ones were ordained, only 130 priests remained. If in 1975 seven parishes were without a pastor, then five years later, twenty-two parishes do not have resident pastors. Out of 130 priests, sixty-seven are over sixty years of age (pensioners in the eyes of the government) and thirty-two are over seventy years old. Of the latter, fourteen pastors have no assistants. Because of old age, illness or incapacitation, there is no one to relieve them. For example, the pastor of Dusetos, Zarasai Dean Fr. V. Arlauskas, seventy years of age, must work alone. In 1939 four priests served the parish. Šeduva had four priests in 1939,but the present pastor, Canon Bronius Antanaitis, is forced to work essentially alone, for Fr. Augustinas Pranskietis, who lives in Šeduva, is blind and nearly ninety-six years old and Father Petras Rauduvė is eighty years old and ill. Moreover, Canon Antanaitis is also the pastor of the Dambrava parish. In Vabalninkas there were three priests in 1939 but now there is only one, and he does not have the strength to say mass. This is why both priests and faithful alike await new priests from the Kaunas seminary.

"An especially distressing and detrimental fact is that not all suitable candidates for the priesthood are allowed to study at the seminary, that the deciding word in admitting candidates is uttered not by the administration of the seminary, not by the Ordinaries, but by civil government officials with the Religious Affairs Commissioner at their head. They are attempting to ensure that the seminary admits as many candidates as possible with no priestly calling and whose physical and mental health is poor. Furthermore, state security employees try to force seminarians to collaborate with them. This is very damaging to the Church. It is inexcusable to permit seminarians to destroy the quality of the spiritual life of the theological seminary and, when ordained, to demoralize Lithuania's clergy.

"Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis has stated that the Kaunas Theological Seminary accepts applicants who have been excused from military service and that is why they are in poor health or handicapped. It is most regrettable that in the summer of 1980 when the Kaunas Theological Seminary administration sent Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis in Vilnius a list of thirty-six candidates to be confirmed, he rejected seventeen of them. In the summer of 1979, eleven candidates were not allowed to enroll in the seminary. Why are the most able candidates barred from studying at the seminary? When unhealthy candidates are accepted into the seminary, they must later be let go. In the fall of 1980, a first-year seminarian and a third-year seminarian were let go because they suffered from epilepsy, while a fourth-year seminarian was expelled as unsuitable. The suitability of certain other seminarians is still in question.


"That the Council on Religious Affairs decides the fate of seminarians is demonstrated by a new distressing fact. In the fall of 1980 at the beginning of the academic year, Commissioner Anilionis ordered the Kaunas Theological Seminary administration to expel the fourth-year seminarian Aloyzas Volskis. He was accused of associating with zealous priests during his vacation — priests that Anilionis calls 'extremists.' Seminarian Volskis is known to be a top-notch candidate for the priesthood. He is the son of a family which practices its faith and has fulfilled his military obligation. We have no information that his behavior constituted an offense under Soviet law. The commissioner used the seminary's administration as a tool for expelling him. Commissioner Anilionis, by his behavior, is acting as a self-appointed prosecutor at the seminary. Who gave him this right? If civil government officials had not prevented suitable candidates from entering the seminary during the postwar years, if the quota of seminarians had not been reduced to such a great extent, there would not be a shortage of priests in Lithuania.

"The Kaunas Theological Seminary is supported solely through the donations of believers, who wait in their parishes and have the right to expect proper priests to minister to them spiritually. But candidates for the priesthood are selected by state security employees and the Religious Affairs Commissioner. What a tragic historical paradox! The theological seminary is not some sort of technical school which could be run by persons who know nothing about the spiritual life, who do not value it and even fight against the Faith and Christ's Church. The seminary would cease to be a spiritual institution and would lose its purpose if it were run by an unofficial rector, the Religious Affairs Commissioner, who is not merely a mediator between the Church and the state but also a very active participant in the attempts to destroy the Catholic Church in Lithuania.

"The seminary must not only prepare seminarians to carry out the duties of a priest but — what is   more important — under the guidance of spiritual leaders and instructors help them mature spiritually for the priesthood.

"We ask that you take notice of the questions we have raised and consider our petition so that the seminary's situation truly might be improved.

"1. Article 50 of the Lithuanian SSR Constitution states "The Church in the Lithuanian SSR is separate from the state.' Therefore, please allow the bishops and administrators of the dioceses and the seminary administrators to deal with all seminary matters without interference and permit all suitable candidates to be accepted, without any quotas, without having the Religious Affairs Commissioner choose candidates or confirm them. Article 38 of the Lithuanian SSR Constitution grants 'the right to choose one's profession, type of occupation, and employment according to one's calling, abilities, professional training, education, and in consideration of the needs of society.' Believers in every parish urgently need priests. Applicants for the priesthood are hampered. This is discrimination against, degradation of, and an offense against believers and promotes justifiable outrage regarding these obstacles and wrongs. Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis publicly states that the admission of candidates is handled without any restrictions by the seminary's administration. Let these be not just words but reality: the seminary actually under the care of the Church.

"2. Direct state security employees to stop blackmailing or otherwise interfering with the admission of candidates to the Kaunas Theological Seminary and to stop recruitng seminarians to collaborate with them, for that is contrary to the seminary's teachings. The activities of security employees at the seminary are quite obvious. Seminarians should be solely under the guidance of the seminary's system, spirit, and regulations, without outside interference.

"3. Let the admission as well as the discharging of seminarians if they are unsuitable, be freely decided upon by the bishops, the diocesan administrators, and the seminary administration. Therefore, we request that you direct the Religious Affairs Commissioner to rescind his order forbidding the seminarian A. Volskis to continue his studies at the Kaunas Theological Seminary because he was expelled from the seminary at the order of the Religious Affairs Commissioner.

"4. Allow bishops and diocesan administrators to freely choose the spiritual leadership of the Kaunas seminary and its instructors.

"5. We ask you to reinstate the rights of a school of higher learning to the Kaunas Theological Seminary and to excuse seminary students from military conscription.
Panevėžys, May 3, 1981 Signed by the following priests of the Diocese of Panevėžys:

Rev. Petras Adomonis
Rev. Bronius Antanaitis
Rev. Vincentas Arlauskas
Rev. Jonas Bagdonas
Rev. Juozas Bagdonas
Rev. Bronius Balaiša
Rev. Antanas Balaišis
Rev. Jonas Balčiūnas
Rev. Juozas Balčiūnas
Rev. Jurgis Balickaistis
Rev. Kostas Balsys
Rev. Petras Baltuska
Rev. Algis Baniulis
Rev. Kazimieras Baronas
Rev. Laimingas-F. Blynas
Rev. Adolfas Breivė
Rev. Petras Budriūnas
Rev. Jonas Buliauskas
Rev. Juozas Dubnikas
Msgr. Kazimieras Dulknys
Rev. Steponas Galvydis
Rev. Juozapas Garška
Rev. Juozapas Giedraitis
Rev. Kazimieras Girnius
Rev. Alfonsas Gražys
Rev. Mykolas Grigaliūnas
Rev. Antanas Gružauskas
Rev. Klemensas Gutauskas
Rev. Gaudentas Ikamas
Rev. Vincentas Inkratas
Rev. Alfonsas Jančys
Rev. Povilas Jankevičius
Rev. Juozas Janulis
Rev. Vytautas Jasiūnas
Rev. Jonas Jatulis
Rev. Jonas Juodelis
Rev. Povilas Juozenas
Rev. Jonas Jurgaitis
Rev. Antanas Juška
Rev. Alfonsas Kadžius
Rev. Vytautas Kapočius
Rev. Petras Kiela
Rev. Antanas Kietis
Rev. Anicetas Kisielius

Rev. Vladas Kremenskas  
Rev. Stanislovas Krumpliauskas
Rev. Petras Kuzmickas

Rev. Jonas Labakojis
Rev. Jonas Lapinskas
Rev. Antanas Liesis
Rev. Juozas Lukšas
Rev. Leonas Lukšas
Rev. Petras Markevičius
Rev. Vytautas Marozas
Rev. Aleksandras Masys
Rev. Leonas Mazeika
Rev. Juozapas Mickevičius
Rev. Antanas Mikulėnas
Rev. Povilas Miškinis
Rev. Antanas Mitrikas
Rev. Kazimieras Mozūras
Rev. Jonas Nagulevičius
Rev. Algis Narušis
Rev. Lionginas Nėniškis
Rev. Petras Nykštas
Rev. Antanas Petrauskas
Rev. Albinas Pipiras
Rev. Jonas Pranevičius
Rev. Augustinas Pranskietis
Msgr. Leopoldas Pratkelis
Rev. Robertas Pukenis
Rev. Izidorius Puriuskis
Rev. Antanas Rameikis
Rev. Prančiskus Raščius
Rev. Petras Rauduvė
Rev. Edmundas Rimkevičius
Rev. Jonas Rimša
Rev. Prančiskus Sabaliauskas
Rev. Petras Senulis 
Rev. Ignas Šiaučiūnas
Rev. Bronius Simsonas
Rev. Leonardas Skardinskas 
Rev. Bronius Šlapelis
Rev. Povilas Šliauteris
Rev. Mykolas Stonys 
Rev. Bronius Strazdas
Rev. Gediminas Šukys
Rev. Juozapas Šumskis 
Rev. Aloyzas Sungaila
Rev. Povilas Svirskis
Rev. Albertas Talačka 
Rev. Leonardas Tamošauskas
Rev. Stanislovas Tamulionis
Rev. Petras Tarutis 
Rev. Petras Tijušas
Rev. Vytautas Tvarijonas
Rev. Jonas Uogintas 
Rev. Benediktas Urbonas
Rev. Sigitas Uždavinys
Rev. Jonas Vaičiūnas 
Rev. Eduardas Vaišnoras
Rev. Antanas Valančiūnas
Rev. Antanas Valantinas 
Rev. Juozapas Varnas
Rev. Povilas Varzinskas
Rev. Titas Vinkšnelis 
Rev. Antanas-Vytautas Žakrys
Rev. Bronius Zilinskas
Rev. Stanislovas Zubavičius

A total of 113 priests signed, but three signatures were illegible.

The voice of religious believers and the protests of priests are meaningless to Soviet officials. In 1981 again there were attempts by the KGB to recruit applicants to the seminary to work as Chekist collaborators, and once again a number of good candidates were rejected by the Religious Affairs Commissioner (more precise information will be presented in the next issue of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania — Ed.).

In view of the arbitrariness of the KGB, the only alternative is to train rejected applicants secretly and ordain them. Otherwise, there will never be an end to the blackmailing of the theological seminary.