At the end of October, 1985, the repeatedly postponed traditional seminarians' meeting at the beginning of the academic year with the Commissioner for Religious Affairs Petras Anilionis took place. In his talk, AniIionis set forth the important manifestations of "religious extremism" in the activities of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.

In the beginning, he touched purely on the internal affairs of the Church: last year's elections of the priests' councils. Anilionis, contrary to Canon Law, affirmed that the Bishops' Conference has the right to impose a standard set of rules on the priests' councils of all dioceses. Msgr. Kazimieras   Dulksnys,   Administrator   of   the   Diocese   of Panevėžys, and Father Donatas Valiukonis, Consul tor of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, were publicly assailed for their objection to the uncanonical interference of the civil government in the makeup of priests' councils and colleges of consultors.

Msgr. Dulksnys was criticized for not restraining priests when they show some energy in the war against atheism, while immediately reacting when suspicion falls on priests in the moral sphere. This allegedly is the influence of the extremists, and such behavior on the part of the administrator, according to Anilionis, is an embarassment for the Catholic Church.

Father Rokas Puzonas was assailed, because during the Feast of Pentecost, in Vepriai, while making the Way of the Cross, according to the Commissioner, he gave eight sermons. Here Anilionis cited the Liturgical P r aye r book where it says that during the Pentecost procession, one is supposed to join in spirit with Mary, the Mother of Jesus and the Apostles, praying in the Upper Room of the Last Supper. "But with whom did Father Puzonas invite people to unite in his Way of the Cross sermons? With the 'bandits suffering for anti-Soviet activity'," according to the lecturer, "and with the priest who introduced himself as having been born in S i be r i a!" Ani I ionis raved.

In a similar tone, the Commissioner spoke about the coliecting of signatures at Christmas, 1984, in front of the church at Sakiai, on behalf of the release of Father Jonas-Kąstyti s Matulionis. According to him, for women living as religious -- the gatherers of these signatures --Christmas, the Feast of the Nativity of Christ is of no concern. They are more concerned about the convict Jonas-Kąstyti s Matulionis. The collecting of signatures on behalf of a priest-convict, in the opinion of the Commissioner, has nothing in common with Christ or with religion. Such allegations by Anilionis constitute a call to change the Gospel of Christ into a gospel censored by the atheists which the future priests of Soviet Lithuania would zealously proclaim.

No less displeasure did Father Antanas Jokubauskas, pastor of Pociūnėliai, attract to himself for his sermons preached during the solemnities of Saint Casimir in SS. Peter and Paul Church and of the Feast of Our Lady of the Gates of Dawn in Vilnius. Allegedly, he urged the faithful not to honor Saint Casimir when there are new priest-convicts, Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius.

The lecturer falsely claimed that Canon Bronius Antanaitis brought Father Jokubauskas to the Festival of the Gates of Dawn. It was naive of the Commissioner to suggest that during Father Jokubauskas' sermon at the Lithuanian services, the greater number of listeners were Poles who were scandalized by the singing of Maironis' Lietuva brangi at the end.

Was Anilionis not presumptuous in claiming that the faithful of Vilnius had been scandalized by Jokubauskas' sermons? What right does an atheist have to speak in the name of believers?

In an effort to convince everyone that the atheistic government had not tried to interfere with renovation work on the Church of SS. Peter and Paul for the celebration of the Jubilee of Saint Casimir, the Commissioner stated that this could be proven by the correspondence of priests   at   the

Father Juozas Prancka instructs seminarians at  the   Theological Seminary in Kaunas

church with government agencies, and by the recorded telephone conversations of the priests (So what is the good of guaranteeing confidentiality of telephone conversations!).

The worse thing is that extremism has shown up even at the Kaunas seminary, Commissioner Anilionis explained. Such an extremist assault was the attempt to bring literature into the semi nary which the Supreme Court of the Lithuanian SSR has acknowledged as anti-Soviet (i.e., J. Girnius' Žmogus bė Dievo -- Man Without God). The method of operation of the extremist priests is the same as that of extremist priests in Poland, for example; in Lithuania as well as in Poland, lay people are allowed to speak in churches under the administration of extremist pastors: In Viduklė, Nijolė Sadūnaitė; in Josvainiai, Petras Paulaitis. This is allegedly a proof that all the activities of the extremists proceed according to secret instructions from centers of disruption in the US and Western countries. However, this "instruction" about which Anilionis was so annoyed, is not secret at all. Such a possiblility is provided for in the Code of Canon Law (759-766).

In closing, Anilionis tried to show that the refusal of the Church to accomodate to the civil government has not and will not do religion any good.

It >s sad that some seminary instructors see nothing in Anilionis' speech contrary to doctrine, as though Anilionis were not trying to make the seminarians atheists. But has anyone from the seminary administration explained that these "instructions" of the Commissioner   are   incompatible with the Gospel of Christ or Christian morals or Canon Law? By these talks, are not the souls of young candidates to the priesthood, still lacking foundations of firm faith, being crippled?