On December 3, 1971, the pastor of the parish in Margininkai, the Rev. Petras Orlickas, was penalized for violating Article 143 of the LSSR Criminal Code—he played volleyball with a group of children!

The decision of the administrative commission of Kaunas Rayonstated that Father Orlickas had worked with children (he had participated in sports, played volleyball), showed cartoons, and so forth.

For a long time it was as if the atheists and Party workers never saw the children playing rowdily and cursing near the collective farm office. The pastor noticed this and set up a volleyball court. Even the most mischievous youngsters did not swear here.

What caused the administration of the Kaunas Rayon, the Party workers, and certain teachers to become uneasy? At the funeral services of a student it was noticed that many students were in the church. The teachers even attempted to take them by the hand and lead them out of the church. In addition, it was known that several boys used to serve mass. The principal did not succeed, though she tried her utmost, in dissuading these children. Then, as usually happens, the officials of the rayonauthorities came to the aid of the Soviet school. Either official security policemen or covert security operatives—we are not certain which—photographed the children at the altar so that they would not think of denying their "misdeed.” Government officials came to the school and started an interrogation. The students were grilled for a long time. Some mothers who had waited in vain for their children to return home from school came looking for them. Disgusted by such terrorization of their children they took them home.

The pastor was warned by the government representatives not to associate with the children, but he knew very well Christ’s command: "Suffer the little children to come unto me,” and for them he was determined to sacrifice whatever was necessary.

On December 3, 1971, Father P. Orlickas was summoned to a session of the Administrative Penalties Commission of Kaunas Rayon.Here he was accused of causing harm to Soviet youth, and a fine of fifty rubles was imposed. To the pastor’s explanation that even his doctors had advised him to participate in sports, S. Jančiauskas, chairman of the commission, retorted: "You can play with the housekeeper.” Throughout the entire session the chairman was tactless and coarse.

As was to be expected, Father Orlickas was immediately transferred from the parish in Margininkai. This was done on the initiative of the commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs—an active priest is removed from his parish so that the atheists could all the more readily undermine the faith of the students.

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Through fines, interrogations, even prison, the atheistic government seeks to win over the youth of Lithuania. No doubt these are extreme measures, but they are not rare. Their purpose is to intimidate the clergy, so that they would abandon their duties, and to frighten the children away from the church. Sometimes they succeed.

Lately, the opposite phenomenon is being noted—the persecutions are steeling not only the priests but also the parents and the students. More and more priests are appearing who willingly risk even their freedom rather than make compromises with their conscience; more and more parents are beginning to understand that their children must be defended from coercers of every sort who attempt to forcibly wrest the faith from the believers and who put their careers before humaneness and the rights of parents. More and more students are daring to proclaim their convictions publicly in the classroom or to criticize the atheists’ contentions.

Religious persecution is undermining the government’s authority more and more, for it is becoming clear to everyone that it is being conducted not on the initiative of individual atheists but through pressure from the Party and the Soviet authorities.

Hasn’t the time come to put an end to the discrimination of the believers in order to narrow at least partly the abyss between the Communist party and the believing public?