In mid-May, 1973, the believers of Lithuania sent to the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR a complaint and two petitions which had been signed by thousands of believers. These petitions originated because discrimination against believers has not ceased.
How the Signatures Were Collected
The texts of these petitions passed from hand to hand, spreading throughout Lithuania. On each sheet that the believers were to sign was the complete text of the petition with which the signers were to familiarize themselves. There were very many persons who, motivated by a profound faith and grievously affected by the restrictions imposed on the rights of their homeland and the Church, devoted much time and effort until they collected a total of 30,782 signatures. All this had to be done in their spare time at the constant risk of falling into the hands of the security police. Someone who has never solicited signatures under our conditions will never understand how much heroism and self-sacrifice was exhibited by those who collected the signatures.
How did believers react when asked to sign? Many signed enthusiastically, without hesitation, particularly if they were certain of the character of the one collecting signatures. When the collector was an unknown person, many found themselves wondering whether this might prove to be a provocation by the government, and whether the Church and the faithful would be harmed thereby. Because of such fears, some parents did not permit their children to sign the petition.
A Survey of Soviet Propaganda During
In recent times, the Communist party has become especially interested in the education of school children and academic youth. The pages of the press are aglitter with articles urging more concern for the fostering of a materialistic world view among the youth and their indoctrination with the principles of "Soviet patriotism" and "proletarian internationalism."
1. Negation and belittlement of Lithuania's past
"During lessons dealing with the history of the LSSR, anything through which in one way or another is expressed the idealization of reactionary manifestations of the past must be resolutely eliminated. In explaining historical events that occurred in Lithuania, concrete examples must be used to prove that the true creator of history was the populace and not the grand dukes, those representatives of the exploiting class" (Tarybinė Mokykla[The Soviet school], 1971, no. 3).
A. Sniečkus, First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party, spoke as follows at the March meeting of the Republic's Party activists: "There is cause for concern in that during studies of the historical past there is at times the tendency to succumb to its idealization of sorts... For instance, instead of investigating present-day subjects, certain workers at the ethnography department of the Institute of History began to analyze nearly exclusively the problems of the past... Publishing houses shoud also evaluate their work critically. Occasionally in their undertakings obvious concessions could be noted toward the exaggerated, usually artificial fascination of certain individuals with the days of yore..."
INSTRUCTIONS FOR SOVIET AGENCIES
(for official use)
"Concerning Data under the Heading 'Catholicism in Lithuania and the Present'
"The Procedure for Collecting Information:
"Data for the above subject are to be collected for scientific purposes in order to become better acquainted with the dynamics of present-day Catholicism as well as of other confessions. The data are to be collected in a composite manner by investigating the following: the clergy's sermonizing and other forms of pastoral work, the role played in the religious community by those who are the most active within the church and their influence on the activities of the ministers of the cult, the material basis (churches, appurtenances of the cult, choirs, etc.) of religious propaganda; and by observing how the cult is modernized.
"To be selected for listening to sermons are those active atheists who have sufficient education. Without participating in the religious rites, yet behaving in a civilized manner, the atheist is to listen attentively to sermons and subsequently reconstruct their contents without adding anything on his own. The description of the sermon must include the following data: (a) the location at which the sermon was delivered (rayon, church), the time (date, hour), the name and surname of the preacher and where he is from; (b) the contents of the sermon. The gospel is to be briefly recounted. The contents of the sermon are to be reconstructed in detail, as completely and accurately as possible by strict adherence to the principle of objectivity. It is absolutely impermissible to insert one's own comments or conclusions into the contents of the sermon. After the contents of the sermon are described, one's observations, comments, and conclusions may be presented and designated as 'remarks'; (c) the form of the sermon: whether it was read from notes or an outline was used or whether he spoke without notes and without an outline; the duration of the sermon; the consistency of the stated ideas; other means used by the preacher to influence the believers.
Early in 1973, some of the rayon and city executive committees demanded all offices, farms, and organizations, as well as religious communities, to send them typeface samples from all their typewriters. Here is an example:
"Please send to the Executive Committee by March 22 of this year typeface samples from the typewriters to be found in the office (plant, farm, or organization) under your management and from those possessed by private individuals. Two original copies of the enclosed text are to be typed on a standard sheet of paper.
"In addition, please inform us of any other typewriters in your possession whose typeface samples you are unable to send us because they have broken down or are undergoing repairs, or for other reasons."
THE ARCHDIOCESE OF VILNIUS
As 1972 was ending, approximately 10,000 copies of the Bible—the New Testament—were printed. In February, 1973, priests were able to obtain them from the curias. Pastors of smaller parishes received only a few copies. Larger parishes received ten to twenty copies. It is said that an average-sized parish received ten copies. Two copies of the New Testament were allotted to each parish church, two to each priest, and as for the rest, the pastor had the right to distribute them at his own discretion among the more active Catholics. On the average, each Catholic was entitled to one page of the New Testament!
People say that when the New Testament was being printed at the Vaizdas Printing House, workers for the project were selected only from Party members. Despite their "loyalty" to the authorities, a substantial number of copies of the New Testament disappeared from the printing house.
In February, 1973, K. Tumėnas replaced J. Rugienis as commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs.
J. Rugienis, a long-time KGB worker, had frequently behaved like a Chekist in carrying out his duties as commissioner: he abused, rebuked, and intimidated priests.
Kazimieras Tumėnas is a Party worker, a doctoral candidate in the field of history, who completed the Social Science Academy in Moscow in 1964 and subsequently headed the lecturers' group of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party.
This change bodes no good for the Church in Lithuania. It seems as though K. Tumėnas will be more tactful; however, like Rugienis, he will continue to work for the destruction of the Church.
In 1973, the following Lithuanians were interrogated by the Vilnius secret police:
1. Andrašiūnaitė, [Miss] Birutė, engineer (March 28)
2. Božytė, [Miss] Marytė, fourth-year student of Lithuanian studies at Vilnius State University (March 28)
3. Burauskaitė, [Miss] Birutė, engineer (April 2)
4. Eigminas, Kazimieras, a graduate of Lithuanian language studies at Vilnius State University (April 6)
5. Eimaitytė, [Miss] Elena, a graduate of German language studies (March 27)
6. Jakučionytė, [Miss] Rėda, engineer (March 28)
7. Jakučiūnas, Zenonas, a graduate of the music conservatory
8. Janulevičiūtė, [Miss] Veronika, a member of the Ethnographic Ensemble of the Young People's Theater (March 28)
9. Jasukaitytė-Ašmontienė, [Mrs.] Virginija, student of Lithuanian studies at Vilnius State University
10. Juška, Alfonsas, biophysicist (March 27-28)
11. Kanevičiūtė, [Miss] Donatė, mathematician (April 3)
12. Kaukėnas, Danas, correspondent for Vakarinės naujienos [Evening news] (April 4)
13. Labanauskas, Kęstutis, employee of the Landmark Restoration Institute (March 28)
14. Matulis, Rimas, a graduate of English language studies (March 28)
15. Misius, Kazimieras, engineer (March 27)
16. Norvaišas, Egidijus, postgraduate student in physics (March 27)
17. Petrauskas, Algimantas, engineer (March 28)
18. Povilaitytė, [Miss] Teresė, a graduate of Lithuanian language studies (March 28)
19. Ramonas, Alfonsas, physicist-mathematician (March 27)
20. Simokaitis, Albinas, instructor at the sanatorium for contagious diseases
21. Stankevičius, Edma, journalism student
22. Trinkūnas, Jonas, postgraduate student in history-philosophy (March 28)
23. Vanagaite, [Miss] Zita (April 3)
As 1972 was ending, two public debates on the topics of love, friendship, and the family were held at the Museum of Atheism. Prof. K. Daukša stated that love is an animalistic, transitory feeling, that there can be no families who are faithful. What is important, is that the other half does not find out, but if it does, it should be forgiving. The professor admitted having been in love half-a-dozen times in his life...
The participants of the debate put many questions to the professor:
"Is it normal for young people to start a sexual life before marriage?"
"Is sexuality normal? It is normal! So what kind of question is this?" replied the professor.
When Novikas became the chief physician at the city hospital, priests were forbidden to set foot inside in order to administer religious rites to dying or critically ill patients. In mid-April of 1973, a patient named Petras Kalinauskas, who was ill with cancer, requested that a priest be called for him. When the patient's wife went to ask for permission, Novikas, the chief physician, berated and ridiculed her and then drove her out of his office. The dean of Druskininkai had appealed to the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs and to Kleiza, the minister of Public Health, regarding such interference in ministering to the religious needs of the sick. Although these dignitaries had assured him that no such prohibitions are allowed, as we have seen, at the hospital in Druskininkai the situation has not changed.
In 1973, after the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs was replaced by K. Tumėnas, the churches in Ignalina Rayon were inspected on April 2-8 by either the commissioner himself or his representatives, together with functionaries from the rayonexecutive committee. They examined the church interior, its altars, organ, electrical wiring, liturgical vessels, vestments; they scrupulously checked the account books and electric meters; and they asked questions. Who kept the money collected by the church? How did the parochial committees get along with the pastors? Do children serve mass? Wherever children did serve, they rebuked the parochial committee chairmen and ordered them not to allow children near the altar. When they visited the schools, they questioned certain students about priests and about the children's relations with the Church.
Most likely they were carrying out the instructions issued to Soviet agencies concerning the gathering of all possible information about the Catholic Church in Lithuania (cf. pp. 233-36).
On February 16, 1971, the Valkininkai Parochial Committee informed the locality office about the need to supplement the parish council of twenty, for several members had died or resigned. The locality office informed the rayon administration about this note, and the latter demanded that the letters of resignation of the members who had resigned be sent to them, otherwise forms on which all committee members would have to be listed would be sent out. After the rayon administration received the letters of resignation, it summoned the chairman of the Valkininkai Parochial Committee and the chairman of the auditing commission and demanded that new committee members be elected. During the elections, rayon representatives would be required to participate. The committee members were astonished, since new members had been elected long ago, and the rayon administration had been informed of this through the locality office. Why must the parochial committee be re-elected? Why must a government representative be present during this election? After all, the Soviet government "does not interfere" in the internal affairs of the Church!
THE ARCHDIOCESE OF KAUNAS
On April 17, 1973, H.E. Bishop Labukas ordained five fourth-year theology students at the Cathedral-Basilica in Kaunas. The ordination of one seminarian was postponed because of illness.
We present some data on the situation of the clergy in Lithuania:
In 1962 the authorities permitted five candidates to enroll into the seminary; in 1963—five; in 1964—four; in 1965—five; in 1966—eight; in 1967—seven.
Year Died allowed Ordained
1968 19 6 6
1969 15 10 3
1970 18 10 8
1971 12 10 4
1972 19 10 6
This is why several parishes in Lithuania are left without a priest each year.
At the end of March, 1973, four persons were arrested in Kaunas:
1. Povilonis, Vidmantas, engineer
2. Sakalauskas, Antanas, instructor at the Civil Engineering Department of the Polytechnical Institute
3. Žukauskas, Šarūnas, sixth-year student at the Medical Institute
4. Rudaitis, physician.
In mid-April Juozas Rugys was arrested. Type was found during the search.
Viktoras Kruminis, a fourth-year student at the Polytechnical Institute, was expelled from the Institute.
The mother of V. Povilonis appealed to the secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party requesting the release of her son. The LSSR Procurator's Office informed her that V. Povilonis had been arrested and was being prosecuted for committing an especially grievous offense. He had allegedly belonged to a group anti-Soviet in nature and in February, 1972, had distributed anti-Soviet proclamations in Kaunas.
With the approach of the 1973 Easter holiday, it was announced in the schools of Kaunas that on April 22 would be held a Communist bee. The students rebelled. They offered to work on other days, only not during Easter. In some schools this bee was moved to an earlier date, but in others—
THE DIOCESE OF VILKAVIŠKIS
In February, 1973, students at the Prienai eight-year school had to answer the following questions:
1. For what do you hold a person in high regard (for his diligence, truthfulness, fairness, friendliness, collectivism, his appearance, for being well-read, for his abilities, his religiousness)?
2. How do you regard adults who attend church (favorably, unfavorably, have not thought about it)?
3. How do you regard students who attend church (favorably, unfavorably, have not thought about it)?
4. Do you agree with the opinion of believers that prayer and faith make one a better person (agree, disagree, don't know) ?
5. Some students' parents urge their children to attend church. How do you regard such parents' behavior (favorably, unfavorably, have not thought about it)?
6. It is asserted in school that prayer and faith in God contradict scientific facts. What is your opinion (agree, agree in part, disagree)?
7. Are religious holy days observed by your family (yes, no, sometimes)?
8. Are there pictures of saints in your apartment (yes, no)?
9. Does your family make the sign of the cross before and after meals (yes, no)?
10. Does your family pray (yes, no, sometimes)?
11. Do you eat blessed wafers on Christmas Eve (yes, no)?
12. Does a priest visit your home (yes, no) ?
13. Do you believe that God, angels, and devils exist (yes, no, doubt it)?
14. When did you last attend church (5, 4, 3, 2, r years ago; recently)?
15. Did you receive your First Communion [yes, no]?
16. Who prepared you for First Communion and confirmation (family members, elderly women from the neighborhood, servants of the church, priests) ?
17. Do you like discussions and books on atheistic topics (yes, no, have not come across such questions) ?
18. The Church commands you not to do anything bad and to honor your parents, therefore it is not harmful (agree, disagree, don't know) ?
19. Laws of nature are inviolable; therefore, there can be no miracles (agree, disagree, don't know)?
20. Do your parents believe in God (believe, do not believe, are skeptical) ?
21. Why do you attend church (out of conviction, parental encouragement, interest)?
In April, 1973, Father Zdebskis was appointed pastor of the parish in Kučiūnai. This parish is near the border. Prior to this appointment Father Zdebskis had been registered to work as a watchman at the Kaunas taxi parking lot by order of the Prienai police. Government agents had spread the rumor that Father J. Zdebskis himself had not wanted to work in a parish.
On Easter Morning, 1973, a police agent and, apparently, several security agents from Lazdijai confronted the members of the orchestra, demanding the surrender of their brass instruments. The musicians did not obey the order. At that point the pastor intervened, stating that he would complain to higher authorities, and the government officials, who evidently did not want a conflict of greater proportions, withdrew.
In April, 1973, several unknown persons burglarized the churches in Ilguva, Žemoji Panemunė, and Paežerėliai and took the Blessed Sacrament from two of them.
On April 25,1973, [Mrs.] Rinkauskienė, the principal of the Skriaudžiai eight-year school, asked the parents of certain students to come see her to explain why they allow their children to attend church and why their children participate in processions, during which their girls scatter flowers. The first to arrive at the school was [Mrs.] K. Kairiūkštienė. Several teachers and the principal took part in the discussion. They told the mother she should not let her children attend church and especially processions.
"I'll take the children to church because the constitution guarantees the freedom of conscience. Our faith teaches no evil. Your godless students pushed around Pastor Ulec-kas and demanded money from him, and later they threw stones at the elderly woman [Mrs.] Tamulevičienė. One of your students raped a girl. Answer me, do churchgoing children of believing parents act this way?"
In January, 1973, the faithful of the parish in Lankeliškiai addressed the following memorandum to Leonid Brezhnev:
"We, the believers of the parish in Lankeliškiai, must inform you of a regrettable occurrence. Father Kupstaitis, our former pastor, was transferred to work at the parish in Gižai, and the bishop could not appoint a new pastor for us because there is a shortage of priests in Lithuania. At this time Father J. Zdebskis is available, having returned from a prison labor camp, but the local authorities do not allow him to carry out his priestly duties in our diocese. It seems to us that this is unjust as far as believers are concerned.
"Therefore, we request that you direct the appropriate agencies that they would do nothing to prevent our bishop from appointing the Rev. J. Zdebskis as pastor of our parish.
THE DIOCESE OF KAIŠIADORYS
[Mrs.] M. Pakalnienė, a teacher at the eight-year school, visited the parents of certain students before Easter in 1973, demanding that they would not send their children to church during the retreat and on Easter Sunday.
In 1972, just before All Saints Day, a teacher in Bagaslaviškis sternly warned his students not to go to church; he threatened them, saying that those who go to church will be expelled from school and will have to request admission into other schools.