On September 28, 1970, the Administrative Penalties Commission of Varėna Rayon fined the pastor of the parish in Valkininkai, Father Algimantas Keina, fifty rubles for violating "the laws concerning religious cults.” Father Keina brought an accusation against the Penalties Commission before the People’s Court of Varėna, requesting that the unjust fine be nullified.
On November 3, 1970, the People’s Court of Varėna Rayondeliberated on the case of the Rev. A. Keina. The chairman of the court was People’s Judge J. Burokas, the defendant—the vice-chairman of the Soviet of Working People’s Deputies Executive Committee, J. Visockis.
The court rejected the claim for the following reasons:
1. "On July 4,1970, three children were being prepared for their First Communion at the sacristy of the church in Valkininkai; they were being taught collectively by Citizen [Miss] E. Kuraitytė.”
2. "On August 30, 1970, the Rev. A. Keina publicly announced that mass would be said for the students’ intention.”
3. "On September 6, 1970, the Rev. A. Keina allowed two underage boys to serve mass.”
The other reasons were less important.
Father Keina then appealed to the chairman of the Supreme Court of the LSSR explaining why he considered the decision of the People’s Court of Varėna Rayonto be unjust:
1. "Citizen E. Kuraitytė was not teaching the children because she is only employed as the church’s cleaning lady. When the parents failed to find the priest within the church, they enquired of her what questions the priest
usually asks the children, and she had indicated the appropriate questions in the catechism. Is the pastor to blame for this?”
2. "In August, during high mass (on Sunday), at the request of the parents, a mass was said for their children’s intention, so that they would be good, diligent, and exemplary. Since when have fines been imposed for praying in church for a worthy cause? To pray for parents and children is a priest’s obligation.”
3. "There is no law which would forbid minors to serve mass. The boys came voluntarily with their parents’ permission. The pastor does not have the right to drive away either the parents or the children when they come to church to pray. Everyone prays wherever he wants to: near the door or at the altar.”
The deputy chairman of the Supreme Court of the LSSR, Capskis, responded: "From the additional information presented, one must conclude that the commission had the right to penalize you for violating the law concerning religious cults.”
On November 5, 1971, Father Keina appealed to the Procurator’s Office of the USSR, which replied that the pastor had been justly punished. The Procurator’s Office ignored the fact that, in its desire to punish the pastor, the Varėna RayonAdministrative Penalties Commission had even falsified the date: actually, the bill regarding the "instruction” of the three children had been drafted in 1968, but the commission had dated it as 1970 because they knew that a fine cannot be imposed later than one month after the offense is committed.
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On October 4, 1971, the very same commission of the Varėna RayonExecutive Committee once again fined the pastor of the parish in Valkininkai fifty rubles because he allowed minors to serve mass. During the meeting of the commission, Father Keina was not even permitted to explain himself.
The pastor again appealed to the People’s Court, seeking the nullification of the fine. The first court session was held on November 15, 1971, in Varena. Father Keina explained that he had not organized the children, nor had he taught them how to serve mass. The children would come voluntarily and with their parents’ permission. The pastor pointed out that the decree issued on May 12, 1966, by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the LSSR does not forbid minors to serve mass, and that his penalization had been based on this very decree. According to Article 85 of the LSSR Constitution and Article 8 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the court must heed only the laws and not some sort of instructions.
Because there was no proof in writing that the pastor had organized the children to serve mass, the court session was postponed.
The second session occured on December 7, 1971. The court was presented with two affidavits testifying that Father Keina had organized children to assist at the altar.
The pastor showed that the affidavit of the boy Vytas Kazlauskas was not genuine because it had been written in the handwriting of J. Visockis, and the signature had been obtained by threateningthe child that his conduct grade would otherwise be lowered. The boy himself, in tears, testified to the court that they had intimidated him, and that therefore he had signed the statement written by J. Visockis.
The other affidavit was a complaint against the pastor by the principal and two teachers from the secondary school in Valkininkai, stating that he spends time with the children and thus interferes with their atheistic nurturing. Father Keina explained that the complaint was falsified, for one of the teachers referred tohad not signed the complaint, and his signature had been forged.The pastor also noted that the instructions on whose basis he had been penalized were not legally binding because they have not been made public anywhere, and their cover actually bears the inscription "Not for distribution to the press.”
The statement of the procurator who spoke at the trial was more like an atheistic lecture with a nuance of menace. "What will happen if the parents themselves begin to teach their children?” he asked angrily, thereby stressing the parents’ lack of rights in the nurturing of their children.
The court confirmed that the pastor had been justly fined. The sole "proof” was the testimony of a coerced child which he had tearfully retracted in court.
The courtroom was full of believers. During the trial people were crying, being unable to remain indifferent witnesses to such guile and deceit. When they heard the verdict of the court, they were all so indignant that the officials even called the police as a precautionary measure.
Because even after the second decision of the court the pastor failed to banish the children from the altar, a note was sent from the rayonoffice to the chairman of the executive committee of the parish in Valkininkai threatening with the possible closure of the church in Valkininkai if Father Keina continued to violate the laws concerning religious cults.
Neither threats, nor trials, nor any other kind of persecution can break the spirit of those who are determined to obey God rather than men.