On the cover:
Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Pastor of the parish in Viduklė, Lithuania, leading a procession of kneeling pilgrims at the Marian Shrine of Šiluva, August 12, 1982. Detais of his arrest and detention in this issue of the CHRONICLE.
Read this and pass it on! Appearing since March 19, 1972
CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA , No. 56
In this issue:
1. Pressure from Moscow Mounts
2. The Problem of the Cardinal
3. The Arrest of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas
6. Searches and Interrogations
7. The Persecution of Jonas Sadūnas
10. The Church in the Soviet Republics
Lithuania ................................ February 14, 1983
During the summer of 1982, when the Soviet government allowed Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of Kaišiadorys to return to his duties, voices were heard in the West saying that the plight of the Church in Lithuania had improved. As a matter of fact, however, the vise of oppression was only tightened. The Council for Religious Affairs increased its campaign to have priests implement the Regulations for Religious Associations, and for failing to keep them, priests were warned, reprimanded, called "extremists", or even fined.
Priests as well as laity were bombarded with the idea that the real administrator of the parish was the "executive organ" which is confirmed (that is, completely controlled) by the Soviet government, while the priest is merely a hired minister of cult. Parish "Committees of Twenty" which had not entered a so-called agreement with Rayon Executive Committees were pressured to do so as soon as possible; that is, to agree at least formally to be administrators of the religious association through whom the Rayon Executive Committee might control the parish. In many parishes, the Soviet government demanded that Church property: liturgical vessels, pictures, etc., be for some reason assessed.
At the beginning of December, 1982, the official of the Council for Religious Affairs assigned to Catholic Matters came from Moscow to Lithuania. He visited the seminary, the bishops and even some of the deans, trying to convince them that it would be better for the priests if Church affairs were run not by priests, but by parish "executive organs".
No one in Lithuania has failed to react to the news about the appointment of the new cardinal for the Catholic Church in Latvia. Everyone has been engaged in lively discussion of what it means.
The Catholic Church in Latvia is moribund: Children are not being given religious instruction, there are almost no young people in the churches, and there are almost no native candidates for the seminary, so that the quota set by the government is filled with candidates from Byelorussia, Ukraine and even Kazakhstan. Even though officially the Riga Seminary prepares priests for the entire Soviet Union, this year only one seminarian, it seems, was ordained to the priesthood.
Among the Latvian clergy, there is a prevailing passivity, fear and reconciliation with the idea that the Church in the Soviet Union can survive only be keeping the Regulations for Religious Associations. There is a similar idea in the completely subjugated Russian Orthodox Church.
In Lithuania, meanwhile, children receive catechetics, instruction, participate actively in religious ceremonies, increasingly more young people are seen in church, many people are actively engaged in apostolic work, and bravely go to prison for their faith; e.g., (Mrs.) Jadvyga Bieliauskienė, imprisoned in 1982 for carrying out an apostolate among the high school students of Garliava. (See Chronicle No. 55 — Trans. Note) The priests of Lithuania are successfully defending their independence of the Regulations for Religious Associations.
On January 25, 1982, Deputy Chief Miniotas of the Raseiniai Traffic Pol ice summoned Father Alfonsas Svarinskas to come in on January 26 in connection with an accident which had occurred in the fall ( a moose had jumped onto his car as he was driving down the highway).
On January 26, just as the pastor returned from a funeral at about half-past-two, a phone call came from Raseiniai demanding that he come immediately. The matter was supposed to be brief. Leaving his parishioners to discuss the funeral. Father Svarinskas left quickly for the Traffic Police without eating, promising to return immediately.
In this deceptive manner they arrested Father Svarinskas after he had been summoned to the Raseiniai Traffic Police: hungry, without money and without the most basic clothing or articles.
That same day, after evening services, two militiamen stopped some guest clergy on the way back from church, demanding to see their papers. They told Father Jonas Boruta to come to Militia Headquarters at Raseiniai the next day at 3:00 P.M., and left their telephone number (Father Boruta, born in 1934, graduated from the University of Vilnius in 1970, and worked as a Junior Research Fellow in the atomic theory section of the Academy of Sciences Institute of Physics. In 1982, he defended his doctoral dissertation in physics and mathematics; after completing seminary studies by correspondence, from December, 1982 to January, 1983 [one month], he worked as associate pastor of the Catholic parish in Grečioniai, Region of Chmelnick, Ukraine.)
Learning of this, the parishioners immediately called a telephone number which had been left them, and inquired where they should come, since about twenty of them were going to accompany the priest.
Father Alfonsas Svarinskas
On October 30, 1982, after thirty-five years of imprisonment, Teacher Petras Paulaitis was released from the KGB Isolation Prison in Vilnius.
Petras Paulaitis was born on June 29, 1904, in the District of Jurbarkas, Village of Kalnėnai. In 1922, he went abroad to Italy where upon finishing high school, he studied philosophy and education for two years. In 1928, he left Italy and worked for four years in education in Lisbon, Portugal. In 1936, Paulaitis returned to Italy and studied theology in the International Theological Institute of Turin.
Upon completion of theological studies, he pursued political economics for two years, and specialized in Latin. In 1938, in Rome, Paulaitis received diplomas in the aforesaid specialties and returned to Lithuania. On June 17, 1939, when the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania, Paulaitis was arrested but that time he was able to get off. They were satisfied with discharging him from his duties as teacher.
On January 7, 1983, in the hospital at Pakruojus, Father Leopoldas Pratkelis, President of the Panevėžys Cathedral Chapter and Pastor of Linkuva, died of a heart attack. He was one of the enlightened and courageous personages in the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Msgr. Pratkelis was born June 5, 1912, in St. Petersburg. After his parents returned to Lithuania, he lived in the District of Zarasai, Parish of Antalieptė, Village of Paciškiai. Upon finishing Antalieptė Elementary School, he attended Utena High School, and later entered the seminary in Kaunas. On June 11, 1938, Leopoldas Pratkelis was ordained priest and served for a time as Associate Pastor of Klovainiai, in Pabiržė. In 1942, he was appointed Chaplain to the Boys' High School in Panevėžys. When the Russians occupied Lithuania, Bishop Kazimieras Paltarokas appointed Father Pratkelis Chancellor of the Panevėžys Diocese. The chancellor's place should have been in the cathedral; however, persecuted and under surveillance, he left Panevėžys to work in Rokiškis, later in Seduva. For three years, he served as pastor in Rozalimas where in 1950, he was arrested and spent six years in Russian prisons.
On January 26, 1983, about thirty KGB agents surrounded the
apartment of Father Jonas Kauneckas. Some of them stole into
the priest's study and presented the LSSR Prosecutor's order for a search in connection with the case of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights. The search began at 3:00 PM. Directing the search was Prose-
Father Jonas Kauneckas
cutor Jakavičius of the Republic Prosecutor's Office for Investigations. Witnesses to the search were: (Mrs.) Rima Pavlova, daughter of Česlovas, residing at Žemaitės 21 in Telšiai; Antanas Vidva, residing at L. Pelėdos g. 3-16 and Jurgis Parakininkas, residing at Laisvės 12-34.
Carrying out the search were KGB agents who would not give their names. They examined every bit of paper, and turned over every page in every book. They looked carefully for something even under the jackets of government books, went through all the old newspapers and scraps of paper found in the wastebasket. They confiscated everything written in Father Kauneckas' hand: un-mailed letters, sermons, sermon outlines, various notes and notebooks. In all, about ten thousand pages. Also seized were greetings from acquaintances, letters, telegrams, even envelopes received from soldiers.
In the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Number 55, it was written that a search had taken place at the home of
Jonas Sadūnas, and, while he was in the hospital, an investigation was begun. Events further transpired as follows.
From November 11, 1982, Jonas Sadūnas was being prepared for an operation to alleviate angina. In the hospital, he wrote to the Chairman of the Lithuanian SSR State Security Committee (KGB) the following petition:
"On October 11, 1982, a search was carried out in my apartment at Architektų g. 27-2, in connection with Case Number 57-2-031-81, looking for examples of my handwriting. As a matter of fact, the searchers were interested not in my handwriting, but in letters, addresses, mail receipts, etc. Assistant Prosecutor (Miss) R. Juciūtė was being forced by someone to hurry, and she questioned me even in the hospital. It is very likely that someone wants to get rid of me. Some of the arguments force one to think that it is all the work of the KGB:
"1. The KGB was very displeased by my correspondence with prisoners of conscience and with many people in the West.
"2. On October 22, 1974, after two days of interrogation, KGB agent Vincas Platinskas forced me to go to Simnas, to Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, and tape an interview with the priest. Two KGB agents took me to Alytus and presenting me with a miniature tape recorder, sent me to see Father Sigitas Tamkevičius. Because I did not tape our conversation, Vincas Platinskas became very angry with me.
In 1982, right after the Feast of All Saints, District Chairman B. Kringelis, coming to the Viduklė parish rectory, wrote up a complaint that the pastor, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, on November 1, 1982, at 2:15 PM, committed an offense against the procedure established in Par. 50 of the Regulations for Religious Associations, confirmed July 28, 1976, by order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR, by organizing a march from the church of Viduklė, to the cemetery and back.
That religious march was organized without obtaining permission of the Raseiniai Rayon Executive Committee, thus violating the order of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR, dated May 12, 1966, entitled, "Administrative Responsibility for Offenses Against Religious Cults".
On November 25, 1982, the Administrative Commission of the Raseiniai Rayon Executive Committee, consisting of Chairwoman (Mrs.) O. Stonienė (Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee), Secretary (Mrs.) D. Kleivienė and members: (Mrs.) O. Pikelienė (Chairman of the Raseiniai City Executive Committee), P. Korol-kov (Raseiniai Militia Chief) and J. Ažubalis (Director of the Finance Section) fined the faithful of the Viduklė Parish who had actively participated in the All Souls' Procession and their pastor:
1. The pastor, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, fifty rubles (administratively fined six times).
2.Juozas Norvilą, fifty rubles (also fined in 1981).
3.Alfonsas Staskevičius, fifty rubles.
On October 29, 1982, in the Edvardas Tičkus Middle School in Rokiškis, the leader of the atheist group, Teacher (Mrs.) Milda Dilienė, summoned believing pupil (Miss) Gita Tervydytė, Class 6C, and tried to convince her to be responsible in her class for atheism, and demanded that the girl bring two books of religious content or a prayerbook. "During atheist meetings we will read the prayerbook and have a laugh at the crazy prayers," Teacher Dilienė added, grinning. Gita Tervydytė refused to obey such demands of the teacher.
On Sunday, October 31, 1982, during evening devotions, Teacher Milda Dilienė, leader of the E. Tičkus Middle School atheist group of Rokiškis, together with the leader of Pioneers at the same school, came to church spying to find out who serves at Mass. After rudely disturbing he order in church, they chased away schoolchildren who were serving at the altar during Holy Mass.
In the City of Varanavo, already in Krushchev's time, the church was closed and later demolished. Believers in the city gather somewhere in the homes of neighbors, so that they might be able to pray. On May 1, 1981, the City Militia deputy and other representatives of the Executive Committee came to see Feliksas Ščygla, where people had gathered for May Devotions. For receiving believers into his home, the Administrative Committee of the Varanavo Rayon fined Ščygla fifty rubles. For the same kind of offense, Wanda Versyla was fined fifty rubles. Representatives of the Administrative Commission warned that if those fined tried a second time to organize "illegal" meetings, i.e., devotions, they would be fined between 300 and 500 rubles. A third offense would bring one to threee years imprisonment.
Four km. from Varanavo rises the stone church of Armoniš-kės. It was also closed during the Krushchev Era. The faithful have been struggling for a long time to regain their church, but all their efforts have been like water off a duck's back.
At the end of 1982, the youth magazine, Lietuvos Ateitis (Lithuania's Future), Number 4, appeared.. In the lead article, entitled, "We Are for Self-Renewal in Love", the problem of lack of love in today's civilized world is considered. In the publication, much room is given to the experiences of our fellow countrymen when the Russians occupied Lithuania, and problems of faith, morality and nationality are analyzed.
Aušra (The Dawn) Number 32 appeared in August, 1982. The more significant articles: "Unity under the Flag of Christ", "Freedom of Speech", "In the Atheists' Smithy", "Youth under Pressure", etc. In the publication, the atheists' plans to wreck the Church from within are revealed. Quite a bit of space is given to throwing light on the plight of Lithuanians living in Byelorussia. The tragedy of the Village of Musteika, Varėna Rayon, is reported, when on June 24, 1944, the Bolsheviks cruelly murdered fifteen men, burned down many homes, and sacked the entire village.