DIOCESE OF TELŠIAI
In the fall of 1973, Engineer Paplauskas erected a traditional shrine for the Suffering Christ in the church-yard of the Cathedral of Telšiai. For that, the Executive Committee of the City of Telšiai fined him fifty rubles. They demand that the shrine be removed from the church-yard as allegedly spoiling the appearance of the place.
In January, 1974, Vice Chairman Ruginis of the Executive Committee of the City of Klaipeda ordered the pastor to send away from the altar some worshipers, because they wore folk dress. In the judgment of Ruginis, it is not allowed to show up in church so dressed.
The pastor, fearing any unpleasantness, promised to allow the worshipers to the altar only when they bring written permission from the Executive Committee.. .
The faithful are deeply annoyed by Ruginis' order, saying, "Where is our freedom of belief, if government officials decree what kind of dress we must wear when we go to church?"
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In Middle School X of Klaipeda, History Teacher (Miss) Ke-turakaitė explained to her pupils that there was no Christ, and that this was just a story created by someone.
One pupil asked, "Teacher, there are many stories, but no one counts the years from them, but only from Christ." The class began to laugh, and the teacher was glad to be saved by the bell.
P a l a n g a
The pupils of Palanga Middle School and their parents complain that Teacher Taurinskas and (Mrs.) Ceinakienė, fanatical atheists, stand guard at the church on Sundays, watching what pupils go to church. The efforts of the atheists notwithstanding, there are pupils who go to church even on weekdays.
K r e t i n g a
During the summer of 1973, the administrative committee of the Executive Committee of Kretinga fined (Mrs.) Šilienė, a resident of Kretinga, fifty rubles because she prepared a few children for First Confession and Communion.
During the summer of 1973, the seventh-graders of Akmenė Middle School II, accompanied by their Lithuanian Language teacher, came to Kaunas. As the pupils were going through the city square, one child asked a companion on what spot Kalanta immolated himself. A security man stepped up to the children and asked what they were looking for.
"The place where Kalanta died," explained one pupil.
The security man asked the name of the teacher, and what school they were from. Having written everything down, he shouted, "Get lost! I don't want to see you around here again!"
A few days later, the principal told the teacher, "Turn in your resignation quickly and leave the school, because you're in for trouble."
In tears, the teacher wrote her resignation, saying that she was "voluntarily" leaving the school. The people of Naujoji Akmenė are very sympathetic towards this teacher, who has finished higher studies, and now must work in a factory.
At the end of 1972, the teachers' meeting of the Seda Middle School was considering the pupils' progress and deportment. One teacher read the names of those who received 5, the highest mark, and behaved in exemplary fashion. When the names of sixth-graders Regina Skrabeikytė and Janina Bernotaitė were mentioned, the Communist Youth Organization secretary (Mrs.) Kentraitė-Kristutienė shouted,
"These girls are not Pioneers, so their conduct cannot be rated exemplary!"
The majority of teachers disagreed with the opinion of the secretary of the Communist Youth League, but Mrs. Kristutienė insisted,
"If we rate the conduct of non-Communist Youth exemplary, we'll never make them join these organizations."
The pastor of Veiviržėnai, Father Brazdžius, brought home an old wayside shrine, which had become the victim of a land reclamation project. Renovating it, he erected it next to the rectory. The regional government demanded that Father Brazdžius take the shrine down. Because he would not do so, he was transferred to another parish.
The present pastor of Veiviržėnai, Father Jankauskas, is being pressured to tear down the shrine which Father Brazdžius erected. In November of 1973, Commissioner of Religious Affairs K. Tumėnas came to Bishop Pletkus in Telšiai, demanding that the bishop order the pastor of Veiviržėnai to remove the shrine from the rectory yard.
Stasys Andriekus used to teach in the Middle School of Barstyčiai. The pupils as well as the parents loved and respected him. His work was rated highly by the school administration and by the Department of Education.
In 1970, Teacher Andriekus was discharged from his position because at Easter he had taken part in the Resurrection Services at the Cathedral of Telšiai.
Summoned to the Department of Education and asked why he, a Soviet teacher, went to church, Andriekus replied, "I am a believer and I act according to my conscience."
Andriekus is now working as a letter-carrier.
In 1973, the government of the Mažeikiai rayon fined the pastor of Židikai and the parish council president fifty rubles each, because they had repaired the siding of the church, even though permission for this had earlier been given.
DIOCESE OF VILKAVIŠKIS
Paluobiai Open Letter:
Honorable Senior Instructor at the Kapsukas State University of Vilnius, A. Augas:
In the March 1, 1974 issue of Kauno Tiesa (Kaunas Truth), No. 31, in your article, "Behold the Cassocked Friends of the People," you write:
"In the beginning of 1945 Bishop Bučys, urged by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Montini (the present Pope Paul VI) assigned the priest Pranas Račiūnas to gather intelligence data about the Red Army.
"Račiūnas was supposed to hand on the information to the Vatican spy Laberge, then in Moscow, he to the Vatican, and the Vatican, to U.S. Intelligence. Račiūnas, firmly believing that the Americans would liberate Lithuania, eagerly served them."
In your article, you do not mention that I was imprisoned for twenty-five years without trial. You do not indicate the true reason for my confinement. Here it is:
In 1947 in Lithuania, the Bishop of Telšiai, Vincentas Borisevi-čius, his auxiliary, Bishop Pranciškus Ramanauskas, and the Bishop of Kaišiadorys, Teofilius Matulionis, has already been arrested. The danger loomed that the dioceses of Lithuania would be left without bishops. The bishop of Panevėžys, Kazimieras Paltarokas, according to Canon Law, could not consecrate new bishops without permission of the Vatican. The bishop had no direct way of contacting the Vatican. For this reason, upon orders of my spiritual superiors, I went to Moscow to visit Father Laberge, Chaplain at the U.S. embassy, to request that he obtain the pope's permission to consecrate new bishops for Lithuania. On my arrival in Moscow, I obtained written permission from the local militia to live temporarily in Father Laberge's quarters. This request of mine was the basic reason for my imprisonment.
You accuse me of rushing "to serve them"; i.e., to gather and transmit information about the Red Army. I ask you to show specifically when, where, and what kind of information I gathered, and when, where, and to whom I handed it on, or even tried to do so.
It seems that you have never read, or do not wish to relate accurately the records of my interrogation, not even one of the most important, supervised by Lt. Col. Chistiakov, Chief of the Interrogation Section of Vilnius Security. The question of espionage against the Red Army does not figure at all either in the records of my interrogation in 1949, or in the decision in the review of my case by the Military Tribunal of the Military Region of Moscow.
I served sixteen years without seeing a judge, hearing the accusations of the prosecutor, or the testimony of witnesses, or hearing the reasonable judgment of a court, even though I demanded such a trial many times in writing, even though the Soviet Constitution guarantees each citizen of the Soviet Union the right to defend his innocence in court. The method of punishing "in absentia," such as was used in my case, was condemned by the Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR.
In the labor camps, living with professional thieves and robbers I had occasion to hear that their ethic forbids one to beat a man who is bound. Among them, breaking that rule is punishable by death. It is a cheap shot for you today to write articles libeling priests when it is practically impossible for them to respond to this libel via the press, radio or television.
If I, for example, were to call you, even in a private letter, a spy for the Chinese or English, you, feeling innocent, could take me to court and I should be punished for libel. But when you libel me, even publicly in the press, I cannot defend myself in that same press, even though the law provides no exception for priests or faithful.
Does your atheistic conscience consider it honorable to abuse the situation which has developed? Should not your self-respect as a university teacher be greater than that of the above-mentioned criminals?
Paragraph No. 7 of the Civil Code of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic indicates that "a citizen or organization has the right to require through the courts that information demeaning respect and honor be retracted, if the person disseminating such information cannot prove that it matches reality."
The law therefore obliges the person who disseminates information to prove that the information by him fits reality. If the respondent is unable to prove it, then such information is to be corrected. "The one who states that another person is unconscientious is obliged to prove it." (A. Vileita, "Piliečių garbes ir orumo gynimas," "Defense of Citizens' respect and honor", Mintis — Thought, V., 1969, pp. 32-37)-
"Since the law obliges that the validity of information disseminated be proved by the person disseminating the information, and since he did not demonstrate such validity, and the court has no other proof of the validity of the information disseminated, the court finds that the information disseminated by the respondent does not fit reality and orders the latter to deny such information." (ibid. p. 55).
It would be possible to accuse me and other persons mentioned in your article only when you had undeniable proof.
On what basis do you affirm that in 1945 Bishop Bučys assigned me to spy on the Red Army? Bishop Bučys left for Rome before June 15, 1941, and from the time when the Soviet Army marched into Lithuania in 1944, I had no contact with him. Read about this in the records of my interrogation.
You state categorically that Father Laberge was a spy of the Vatican. Look at the decision of the Moscow Military District Military Tribunal's decision in its review of my case in 1965.
There it is clearly stated: "It is not proven that Laberge was an agent of foreign intelligence." Whom to believe? Your libelous article or the document of the Military Tribunal?
You write: "In the beginning of 1945, at the instigation of the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Montini, Bishop Bučys assigned the priest Pranas Račiūnas, of Panevėžys, to gather information concerning the Red Army." In 1945, Montini was neither a Cardinal, nor the Vatican Secretary of State. It was only in 1958 that Pope John XXIII elevated Montini to Cardinal, when he ruled the Archdiocese of Milan.
Finally, can you submit evidence that the present Pope Paul VI (Montini) ever urged Bishop Bučys to spy on the Red Army? Can you specifically show where, under what circumstances, Pope Paul VI gave such instructions? On what documents do you base your statements? Show which records of my interrogation speak of this.
I do not know what urged you to write such untruths and to mislead the Soviet reader, libeling Pope Paul VI, the late Bishop Bučys, Father Laberge, and me. I do not know whether you concocted such an article, or whether someone else wrote it, and you simply signed it.
Perhaps you wished in this way to serve atheistic propaganda in Lithuania. However, even atheists are obliged to keep to the norm of ethics. Do you not, by such an uncritical article, lower the prestige of the honorable title of Senior Instructor of the University of Vilnius? I do not know your moral standard. I do not know whether you, having had the nerve to write untruth, as a representative of learning, without ascertaining the facts, will have the will to make amends. An honorable person of strong character, having made an error, will always make amends. But will you, having had the nerve to calumniate several people, even the pope, have the courage and self-respect to recall those calumnies, or at least see that Kaunas Truth would print the text of my open letter?
Your article appeared in the press just a few days after the visit of the USSR Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko to Pope Paul VI. Do you think that your article, accusing a pope of organizing espionage against the Red Army, is the beginning of a new campaign against the present pope, fitting in with the present course of Soviet foreign policy?
On the basis of Paragraph 7 of the Civil Code of the Lithuanian SSR, I demand that you prove legally the truth of the accusations you have made against me. If you can not, you are obligated to recall the aforementioned accusations. Otherwise, I retain the right to take you to court.
I am sending copies of this open letter to: His Excellency Bishop Juozas Labukas, His Excellency Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis, USSR Minitser of Foreign Affairs Andrei Gromyko, the Rector of the University of Vilnius, J. Kubilius, Commissioner for Religious Affairs K. Tumėnas, and the editors of Kauno Tiesa.
The Rev. Pranas Račiūnas
Paluobiai, March 20, 1974
Simas Kudirka's mother, living near Griškabūdis, was invited to visit relatives in the USA for three months. She received the necessary documents and even a round-trip ticket Mooscow to New York, April 27.
Before she left for Moscow, representatives of the Executive Committee of Sakiai and later, a representative of Security, came to see Mrs. Kudirka and tried to convince little old lady not to go to the USA. They promised to give her hay for her cow, to allow her to see her son in the concentration camp (District of Permė) and to see that she received letter from him.
She decided to go to the USA and arriving at Vilnius, bought a ticket to Moscow. Accompanied by three men, Mrs. Kudirka approached Car 6. However, the little old lady was unable to board. At that time, a large number of security agents and militia lurked about the platform. Four militiamen presented themselves, demanded the lady's papers, and led her off to the militia room.
Here again Mrs. Kudirka was importuned not to go to the USA, until the train "Lietuva" pulled out for Moscow.
On May 7, one of Mrs. Kudirka's companions, B. Gajauskas, was summoned to Kaunas Security. The security people wanted to know why, after having served a 25-year sentence, he had caused a political provocation on the railroad station platform.
Mrs. Kudirka informed relatives in the USA by telephone telling why she had been unable to reach Moscow. It appears that there will be no difficulty for her to leave for the USA.
Lately in Lithuania, in a wish to find out the situation of religion, sociological surveys have become very fashionable. In all schools of Lithuania, pupils must answer the questionnaires.
March 5-10, 1974, the teachers of the elementary school of Kučiūnai: Bendaravičius, and the Misses Baldauskas, Ulinskas, and Barkauskas gave the pupils of Grades 4-8 the following kind of questions: "Do you believe in God? Why do you believe? Do you go to church? When were you in church? Do you read religious books? Do you go to confession often? Do you pray at home? Do your parents believe?"
More than 90% of the pupils wrote that they believe in God and go to church. The principal of the school became frightened at the answers and suggested that the teachers watch at the churches, as had been done several years earlier, and keep the children out of church. However, most of the teachers were of a different mind: It is not fitting for a teacher to be a militiaman.
In the fifth grade, when the teacher, (Miss) Barkauskaitė presented the questions, two pupils arose, and making the sign of the cross, recited a prayer. To the teacher's admonition: "Why is that necessary?" the pupils replied "We need courage!"
The faithful are deeply annoyed at these "sociological" investigations. They are simply a heavy-handed interference in matters of conscience. Many are of the opinion that only the first question should be answered: "Do you believe in God?", and not any of the others, since the purpose of these surveys is to find out who influences the children, who teaches them, who gives them religious books to read, etc. Some of the answers could be out-and-out betrayal, which the atheists would use in their war against religion.
In the church of Vištytis a small children's choir was organized. The parents gladly allowed the children sing in it. The children's choir pleased the faithful very much, but it was a thorn in the side of the atheists.
On Sunday, November 18, 1973, during the evening Mass, investigators came to the church. The next day, principal Virškus and the home-room teachers began the interrogation: Who sang? Who teaches you to sing? Where are rehearsals held? Does the pastor give you candy?
Some of the children became frightened, while others, like the Aleknavičius girl, the Uldinskas girl, and the Dulckis girl courageously stated that they sang and that they would continue to sing in the future. It was what their parents wished, and besides they themselves enjoyed it.
The teachers explained that the girls could continue to go to church, but they must not sing, since the other children would then want to join.
The terrorization of the children lasted all week. The teachers tried in all sorts of ways to convince the children not to participate in the singing. They visited the homes and asked the parents not to allow the children to go to choir.
"Our children are doing no one any harm by going to sing. You would do better to see that there are fewer hooligans, instead of concerning yourselves with our children's singing," the parents told the over-zealous teachers.
On November 22, 1973, in the evening, four girls came to the rectory so that the priest's housekeeper might teach them to sing. While the dogs barked, Area Chairman Žarskis and Party Secretary Gaidis snuck about the rectory. The uninvited guests frightened the children rather badly, asking their names.
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In the autumn of 1972, J. Uldinskas, the chauffer of the Vištyčiai Soviet farm drove the priest to see a critically ill patient. When they found out about this "offense" the director of the collective farm and the secretary of the party organization berated Uldinskas: "We could excuse you, if the car had been used for other things, but driving the pastor around is most strictly forbidden."
S u t k a i
At the end of 1973, in the elementary school of Gerdžiūnai an atheistic afternoon was organized for the children—a play. The fifth-graders were supposed to act out The Gods of Olympus, and the sixth-graders—The Follower of Christ.
Pioneer leader Vitalija Pavalkytė and sixth-grade home-room teacher Angelė Karalienė made sure that the parts in this play were acted by those pupils who serve Mass at the church in Sutkai. The purpose was obvious: to ridicule the Faith. Pupils Vidmantas Bač-kaitis and Algis Mickevičius, revolted by the show in rehearsal, fled from the school.
At the elementary school of Gerdžiūnai, the practice is to draw caricatures of believing pupils in the wall newspapers. The atheists of Gerdžiūnai hope in this inhuman way to lessen the number of pupils attending church.