March 15, 1974, workers at the Šiauliai Workshop for the Blind were herded to an atheistic lecture given by Prof. I. Zaksas, of the Kaunas Institute of Medicine.
The speaker said that false information is being disseminated abroad about alleged suppression of the religious press in Lithuania, about the punishment of innocent priests, etc. The professor mentioned that there are no candidates for the seminary at Kaunas, and that there are no restrictions on the part of the Soviet government. If it happens that one priest serves several parishes, this is simply because, due to the small number of believers, several priests are unnecessary.
After the lecture, the listeners posed a number of questions.
"I heard from the speaker today, that the atheists are the friends of the believers. I am a believer and I have taught my children to believe. The atheists of Šiauliai have guaranteed several times during their meetings, that my children shall not have accsess to higher education. Where is the friendship in that?," asked the laborer Šileikis.
The lecturer guaranteed that if Šileikis' children came through the examinations no worse than the others, they would surely be admitted. He knew nothing of the actions of the atheists in Šiauliai.
The worker Jurevičius likewise mentioned that he saw no friendliness on the part of the atheists. Two young men last year erected a cross on the Hill of Crosses and for this "offense" they were severely punished. V. Ivanov was expelled from music school, while Z. Mištau-tas was not allowed to take his state examinations.
Moreover, Mištautas was obliged to give an atheistic 'ecture on Christmas Eve. Is this not ridiculing the believer? Or is it friendship?
Professor Zaksas replied that the atheist in sending Mištautas to give an atheistic lecture acted perhaps unjustly, but the professor had nothing to say about Mištautas' being denied oportunity to take the examinations.
Jurevičius mentioned that religious material is printed in Lithuania in very small quantities, and that it is practically unavailable. For example, the faithful would pay up to 30 rubles a copy for the "Maldynas" prayer book, if only they could obtain it. Jurevičius said that he had seen a copy of the Decrees of the Second Vatican Council only in the museum of atheism.
Director Alminas, of the Cultural Center, affirmed that he could not be a believer, because for some reason there are no miracles in our day, and everything in the past was fabricated.
The worker Jurevičius remarked that in our day too there are miracles at Lourdes and Fatima, but for lack of a religious press these facts remain unknown to many.
Professor Zaksas said that during World War II the Germans perpetrated massacres in the name of God. One worker explained that Hitler was an atheist, and that in fascists concentration camps thousands of priests were killed.
"What will the atheists do when there are no more believers left?" asked Šileikis.
After some thought, the speaker replied that atheists would combat drunkenness and other evils. To most of the workers' questions Professor Zaksas either gave no reply at all, or else offered some vague explanation.
"God's existence is proved by your own lecture," one worker
concluded. The audience burst out in an ovation.
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Home Room Teacher (Mrs.) Dukaitienė entered in the school records of Virginia Šileikytė: "She is under the influence of religious parents. Virginia's views coincide with the fanatical views of her parents."
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On March 3, 1974, a security agent hauled Virginijus Ivanov off to the Security Committee and interrogated him about why he had told others of the interrogation in connection with the procession of the cross at the Hill of Meškuičiai, about who helped Virginius' mother write a complaint, etc.
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On February n, 1974, Teacher Gorodickis of the Šiauliai Workshop for the Blind gave an atheistic lecture, during which he ridiculed believers. He asked why believers should not be given a coffin for their birthday or name day, since they seem to desire eternal life so much.
After the lecture, the audience detained the speaker with questions and a discussion began, but the lecturer hurried out of the auditorium.
On February 25, 1974, V. Mičiūnas, Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Joniškis region, demanded to know of Father G. Gudanavičius, the pastor of Žagarė, why the pastor walked in the funeral procession and why the cross was carried in such processions, why he allowed boys to serve at Holy Mass, why he urged parents to bring their children to church, and why, during the summer of 1973, he catechized high school students.
"To catechize children," replied Father Gudanavičius, "to draw them nearer the altar, to urge parents to come to church themselves and bring their children—this is the duty of a priest. I would be a poor priest if I did not perform this duty conscientiously."
"The children belong to us and we will not give them to you," declared Mičiūnas.
"We don't ask you for the children. They belong to the parents. If the parents ask us for help, we will gladly help them to rear their children religiously," retorted the pastor of Žagarė, "As for carrying the cross in procession, that is required by liturgical procedure. Even the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, K. Tumėnas, does not object to this."
"Tumėnas is not our boss," said a regional official. He can do what he wants in Vilnius, but not here. We are in charge here... Your activities generally in Žagarė displease us. We will take more stringent measures."
"That's your business. I'm going to try to carry out my duties conscientiously."
Shortly after, the school began to persecute pupils who go to church. Teachers visited the homes, summoned parents, and tried to convince them not to allow their children to go to church. "The children can pray at home," they said, "If they go to church, they shall be punished."
The worst to suffer were the children of the Valančius family. Genė Valančiūtė used to receive perfect marks up to the sixth grade, and annually received a citation. This year Genė again finished with perfect marks, but she did not receive a certificate of merit, and her conduct mark was just satisfactory.
Zita Valančiūtė, who studied hard and behaved in examplary fashion, had her conduct mark lowered to "unsatisfactory".
Conscientious teachers, parents and pupils are annoyed at the conduct of eighth-grade teacher V. Maižius and of Director Stelmokas.
In 1974, in Vosiliškis, eighth-grade teacher (Mrs.) Lionė Kmieliauskienė and her husband Algis Kmieliauskas, Chairman of the District of Vosiliškis, intensified their atheistic activities.
At Easter they both lurked about the churchyard, while schoolchildren were followed by their agents, Communist Youth League member (Miss) Urbaitė and the teacher, (Miss) Vaišvilaitė. Immediately after Easter, the terrorizing of parents and children began.
District Chairman Kmieliauskas ordered members of the orchestra turn in their instruments—It seems they dared to play in church at Easter.
Pupils of the Vosiliškis elementary school were scolded for going to church, and especially for taking part in the procession. Teacher (Mrs.) Bakienė ridiculed third-grader Pesecka and his parents for going to church.
"If your mother tells you the stork brought you, are you going to believe it?" sneered Mrs. Bakienė, "But then maybe the stork did bring such an idiot?"
The Kmieliauskas couple were not satisfied with their "activity". They reported to Director Kirtiklis of the intermediate school at Grinkiškis which pupils of the upper grades, studying in Grinkiškis, took part in services at Easter. Director Kirtiklis invited the pupils to the teachers' room and forced them to write explanations of why they went to church at Easter. Eighth-grader R. Jančius was forced to re-write five times his explanation of why he served Holy Mass at Easter.
The director told eleventh-grader J. Kilbauskas, "Choose between school and church." The boy submitted his resignation from the school. Then the director promised not to harass him further and convinced him to remain in the school under his direction.
On May 14, the chief of security of the Raseiniai region came to the Grinkiškis intermediate school and tried to persuade Kilbauskas not to serve at Mass.
"You're an adult and can disregard your parents," the security agent advised.
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In the village of Puodžiai, District of Vosiliškiai, an old wayside cross collapsed. Pranas Peškus prepared to set up a new one, but District Chairman Kmieliauskas informed regional authorities, who warned Peškus not to erect another cross.
"We don't pull down crosses," said Regional Vice Chairman Z. Butkus, "but if a cross falls over, it means that it has seen its day and you are not allowed to erect a new one."
On May 13, 1974, Executive Committee Vice Chairman Butkus summoned Father Jonas Survila, the pastor of Vosyliškiai, and accused him of being unruly and aggressive, because boys of the parish serve at Mass and for that reason he had been penalized. As a matter of fact, Father Survila on May 13, 1971, had to explain himself to Security Chief Gardauskas, and on July 18, 1972 he was fined 50 rubles for having children serve Mass.
Vice Chairman Butkus ordered the pastor to write an explanation of why the boys served Mass. Father Survila sent in the following explanation:
"The parents want their children to go to church instead of drinking. If I encouraged it, there would be a crowd of boys. You can ask their mothers who is doing the agitating.
"Why do I not chase the boys from the altar? I cannot drive them from the altar because, as the Lord Jesus Christ says, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them...' " (Luke 18. 16).
"Therefore, 'We must obey God rather than men.' " (Acts 5. 29).
Vice Chairman Butkus, receiving such an explanation, summoned Fr. Survila that very day to regional headquarters and fined him fifty rubles. Butkus was especially angry at the pastor for writing that "we must obey God rather than men." This meant that he did not plan to mend his ways. Butkus warned that in the future more stringent measures would be taken, and he would not allow the pastor to act thus.
Executive Committee Vice Chiarman Juškevičius of the Region of Kėdainiai forbade the pastor of Surviliškis, Fr. Vytautas Užkuraitis, to visit a neighboring parish during a religious festival, to preach.
Fr. Užkuraitis informed the faithful of Surviliškis, Gudžiūnai and Šaravai of the prohibition:
"The Regional Executive Committee Vice Chairman has forbidden me from visiting neighboring parishes during a religious festival and preaching there. However, I am a priest of the Church established by Christ, and I am obliged to obey the words of the Master which say, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to all creation'. Can I disobey such a categorical command? I will therefore go to religious festivals and I will preach; I would remind those who would forbid me, of the words of Peter and John to the Jewish sanhédrin, 'Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge. ..' "
After the festival, in July, Fr. Užkuraitis was summoned before Vice Chairman Juškevičius, who began to lecture the "recalcitrant" pastor:
"Why do you disobey our instructions by going without permission to the festival and preaching there?"
"Religious festivals, devotions, and the administration of sacraments belong not to your competency, but to that of bishops and priests," the pastor of Surviliškis explained. "By what right do you interfere in the internal life of the Church, the domain of Canon Law, and prevent priests and faithful from fulfilling their religious duties? By such conduct you—not we—transgress the Constitution of the USSR and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You officials of the Soviet administration become tools of the atheists and serve not all the citizens, but just a small group. I am deeply convinced that you, Mr. Vice Chairman, have no juridical or moral right to order priests, 'You go to the festival and preach, and you stay home.' "
"For such conduct and speach, I will take care of you!" threatened Juškevičius, "You'll come to the end of your tether..."
* * *
In Surviliškis, (Mrs.) Eidukienė and her son would go to church daily. For this the boy was ridiculed in every manner in school, and called names. The teacher Klanauskas even warned the mother, "If you continue to take the boy to church so often, we will take him away from you, and we will discharge your husband from his bookkeeper's position."
DIOCESE OF PANEVĖŽYS
To: His Excellency the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Panevėžys, Bishop Dr. R. Krikščiūnas
from the Dean, the Rev. J. Niurką
On March 28, 1974, in the Utena hospital I conferred the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick upon (Mrs.) Ona Katinienė. The patient, struck by an automobile, was unconscious, and the following day she died.
On March 29 I was summoned by Utena Regional Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Labanauskas and asked whether I had been to see a patient at the hospital the day before, and whether I had permission from the chief of staff.
I explained that I had been summoned by the sister of the deceased, who said that arrangements had been made with the staff, and that I would not be ejected from the hospital. I went and took care of the patient, without disturbing anyone.
The Vice-Chairman was not satisfied with my explanation and demanded a written statement besides. I felt that I was innocent, and that I had not forced my way into the hospital arbitrarily, but had only performed my priestly duties upon invitation, and so I wrote a statement.
One night I was awakened to visit the hospital, but it became clear that no arrangements had been made with the staff. I said I would wait until they went and made arrangements, but they did not return.
A few days later, during the day, I was again summoned to go to the hospital. The one asking me did not have permission of the chief of staff. He went off to get permission, but did not return.
On March 7, I told the faithful from the pulpit that we priests may visit the hospital only with permission from the chief of staff.
On April 24, (Mrs.) Agota Graužiniene, daughter of Petras, 82 years old, a resident of the village of Droničėnai, a patient at the Utena hospital, asked that a priest be called. Her children went to the doctor for permission.
"She's not weak, she doesn't need a priest... We have no separate room," the doctor explained.
This was no answer to give, since the patient was at death's door. She was taking twelve packets of oxygen daily. And at the Utena hospital, the office of the chief of staff is set aside for religious ministration to patients. On April 25, (Mrs.) Graužinienė died without having seen a priest. Conclusions
1.At the hospital in Utena, the faithful who are dying may not have religious ministration, to say nothing of those who wish to make their Easter confession.
2.Of what value is the instruction to obtain the chief of staff's permission, when this is not granted?
3.It appears as though someone forbade the chief of staff to grant permissions just as they had forbidden the doctors on duty to admit the priest to visit the sick..
I request Your Excellency to contact the appropriate authorities, so that the misunderstandings which have arisen in Utena regarding this question might be resolved, and that a priest ministering to the sick would not be considered an offender.
Utena, May 9, 1974. Rev. J. Niurka
On April 15, 1974, the Executive Committee of the Utena region sent district and city executive committee chairpersons the following message:
"Together with member (Name) of the Control Commission on observance of laws regarding cult, attached to the executive committee of the Utena region, please carry out the following assignments by the date set:
"1. By April 19, send the regional executive committee a schedule of religious festivals and holy days for 1974 at (name of church), according to the following form:
Name of holy day or Festival Date
Priests the executive organ plans to invite as help.
(Signed) Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Religious Community
"1. This calendar of religious holy days is to be made up and signed by the executive committee of the religious group.
"2. Make three copies of the calendar: one copy to remain with the executive committee for your records, one copy to be submitted to Member (Name) of the Control Commission for Observance of the Laws... The original should come to me.
"3. On work days fixed religious feasts may be celebrated only after work hours. For this reason, in the column marked 'Date', the hour is to be indicated at which the holy day or festival begins. Transferrable feasts should be moved to the closest Sunday.
"4. It must be explained to the chairpersons of the executive organs that once the schedule of festivals is compiled, it will be necessary in the future also to apply in writing before each festival or religious holiday to the regional executive committee, for permission to invite one or two priests from neighboring parishes to help out, since the desire for such does not yet mean that the regional executive committee agrees, or grants permission. In a word, it is necessary to receive permission to invite a priest from a neighboring parish to help out, as per established procedure.
"2. The agreements with religious groups for further use of the house of prayer and the religious inventory until May 10 are to be renewed.
"The agreements are to be drawn up in triplicate: One copy remains in the files of the executive organ of the religious groups, while the second and third copies should be sent to the regional executive committee (One of these will be sent to the Religious Committee in Vilnius).
"If there is any question about the filling out of the agreement, please consult with me.
"3. Together with the agreements are to be sent the inventories of religious articles (These are complied and signed by the executive organ of the religious group) according to the following form:
Religious objects, turned over without charge to the religious community of (Name).
Name of Article and Description
Size or Weight
___________ President of the Religious Community of
"4. The committees of twenty, the executive organs of religious groups, and their boards of trustees are to be reviewed, and where necessary, complemented. Efforts should be made to include loyal persons in those lists. Those who have been on trial, have been exiled or are otherwise reactionary should be removed.
"From among the committees of twenty is to be chosen the executive organ consisting of three persons (chairperson, secretary, treasurer) and the board of trustees, also consisting of three people (chairperson and two members).
"You are asked to complete constientiously and punctually the tasks indicated.
"Enclosures: 1. Explanation of the procedure for applying the laws regarding cult; 2. Three copies of the agreement form.
"Signed by the vice-chairperson of the executive committee of the Utena regional DZDT."
Editorial note: Similar communications were received by executive committees of all districts and cities in Lithuania.
On June 12, 1974, Canon Antanas Misevičius was summoned by Executive Committee Vice-Chairperson (Miss) Steckaitė of the Region of Biržai to explain how he dared to preside at the funeral of Mrs. Stiklerienė, the mother of an atheist son.
Canon Misevičius in June, at the request of relatives, presided at the funeral of the mother of teacher Stikleris, of Pabiržė, an ardent atheist. He had previously administered the sacraments to her on several occasions. In her illness, the mother was in the care not of the atheist son, but of her daughter.
Vice-Chairperson Steckaitė warned Canon Misevičius not to commit such an "offense" in the future, lest she take appropriate measures.
DIOCESE OF TELŠIAI
In March, 1974, the assistant of the parish of Šilalė, Father Antanas Šeškevičius, sent the Commissioner for Religious Affairs several statements. Following are some thoughts from those statements:
1. "The pastor of Kvėdarna invited me to participate actively in Lenten devotions June 5-6, 1974. Vice-Chairman Jankus of the Šilalė Executive Committee crossed my name out, and allowed the pastor to invite just one priest. Why this discrimination? Last year on the same occasion five priests working full-time were hardly able to serve the faithful. What are two priests going to do? Vice-Chairman Jankus ought to show some consideration for Soviet citizens who make use of the religious freedom proclaimed in the Soviet Constitution.
"Will the behavior of Jankus not result in priests ceasing to request his permission, as priests elsewhere have done? Why go back to the long-forgotten times of the Czar and Muraviov? (Notorious Governor-General of Lithuania in Czarist times — Tr. Note) Is this not digging a grave for Communism itself?
2. "On March 15, 1974, Canon Valančius and I were summoned by Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Jankus of Šilalė. Arriving, we found a representative of the security police.
Vice-Chairman Jankus and the security agent began to threaten me with imprisonment, because after all the penalties I am still recalcitrant and refuse to obey the law. I told them I am ready to go and die in a Communist prison.
"I asked them to show me which law I am breaking, but not one of them deigned to do so. Vice-Chairman Jankus rudely accused me, saying that he would no longer waste words with me, but take action.
"I therefore request your assistance, that I not be subject to discrimination or calumny, but that I be treated like a human being."
DIOCESE OF VILKAVIŠKIS
To the Ministry of Education of the Lithuanian SSR, A Petition from the Executive Committee of the Catholic Parish of Plutiškės
On May 5, 1974, during a religious festival, in the course of devotions, J. Jakštas, principal of the intermediate school of Plutiškės, burst into the churchyard, and by his aggressive behavior harassed the faithful. Without a police representative and unbeknownst to our executive committee, he made a search of the belfry and the church vestibule.
Immediately after Jakštas' departure, a group of pupils from the intermediate school of Plutiškės forced their way into the churchyard and began seizing rosaries and other religious articles from some old ladies. From one they even seized her money. An uproar ensued, and the youths were expelled from the churchyard. Then, causing a disturbance in the street, they began to throw stones at those praying in the churchyard. (Mrs.) Deltuvienė, an elderly lady, received a sharp blow from a rock.
Apparently the youths must have been instructed by someone, since they never used to behave this way before. It should be noted that it is not the first time Principal Jakštas has behaved in such a fashion.
We request the Ministry of Education to reprimand Principal Jakštas, since his behavior does not bring honor upon the Soviet school system, nor upon the ideal of the upright Soviet citizen.
Plutiškės, May 10, 1974.
At the end of July, 1974, Vice Chairman Liolys of the Region of Kapsukas berated the chairman of the Plutiškės parish council for writing the complaint. He scolded him because the parish council had gone over his head to the Ministry.
"In the future, you shall come only to me," Liolys concluded.
DIOCESE OF KAIŠIADORIAI
On April 14, 1974, at Easter, detectives visited all churches in the Region of Molėtai to observe which school children go to church. The teachers, informed which pupils had attended church, began to visit their homes and to browbeat the parents because their children go to church.
Calling upon Antanas Paulauskas they scolded him because his eleventh-grade daughter had been in church. They threatened another eleventh-grader that they would give him a poor recommendation, so that he would not be able to enter any institution of higher learning.
"Then I'll apply to the seminary; they'll accept me!" the student shot back.
With the resistance of the parents, the fanaticism of the atheistic teachers has waned a bit.
In the Region of Bagaslaviškis, Principal (Mrs.) Sviderskienė of the intermediate school warned her pupils on Good Friday not to go to church during Holy Week. If anyone were to go, the parents would be punished with a fine. The following day, she repeated her order that at Easter, not one pupil should go to church.
At Easter the principal watched the participants in the services from the window of teacher Aldona Černauskaitė's apartment. Among them were many school children. After Easter, the principal ordered all pupils who had been to church to bring in their parents.
When the parents had assembled, they were warned that their children's deportment marks would suffer if they went to church. Some of the parents, e.g., (Mrs.) F. Jablonskienė, (Mrs.) L. Strazdienė, (Mrs.) V. Balandienė, (Mrs.) E. Miliauskienė, and (Mrs.) Paukštienė were terrorized for several hours each. The pupils who had been to church suffered no less.
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On May 3, 1974, Jonas Gatelis was being buried in Bagaslaviškis; his son attended the intermediate school in this town. The students, having accompanied the deceased as far as the church, were forced to wait outside during the services because the principal, (Mrs.) A. Sviderskienė would not allow them into church.
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