THE DIOCESE OF TELŠIAI
On July 14, 1973, the church in Klaipėda was visited by Tarasov, an official of the Council for Religious Affairs, accompanied by Commissioner K. Tumėnas, Ruginis, Vice-Chairman of the Klaipėda City Executive Committee, and a security official (see the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, no. 7). When the Catholics of Klaipeda learned that Tarasov had stated that the church in Klaipėda was no smaller than the Catholic church in Moscow, and that it was entirely adequate for the believers' needs, they were scandalized. The parish in Klaipėda has about 6000 parishioners. Every year, about 800-900 children prepare to receive their First Communion! The faithful must crowd into a church measuring 288 square meters, which doesn't even have a churchyard. On holy days and during religious festivals, even when it is raining or freezing the believers must stand in the streets since it is impossible for many of them to get inside the church. When the pastor of the parish in Klaipėda reminded Tarasov that the church could be enlarged if the sheds leaning against the back of the church were torn down, the latter replied, "We shall see later."
The Soviet press reports that the city of Klaipėda is growing, that new sections are being developed, and that living conditions are improving. Only believers wait in vain for the government to take note of their difficult lot and return the unlawfully seized shrine of Mary, Queen of Peace.
Can the believers of Lithuania respect a government which has desecrated a shrine dedicated to the Queen of Peace, while sending its builder, H.E. Bishop L. Povilonis, for propaganda purposes to a congress of peace advocates in Moscow?
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