In this issue:
Lithuania ....................................... March 19, 1977
CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA No. 26
A Translation of Authentic Reports from Soviet-Occupied Lithuania
Published by the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Priests' League of America 351Highland Boulevard Brooklyn NY 11207
©Copyright 1977 by the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Priests' League of America
Printed by the Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Putnam, CT 06260
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania No. 26 is dated March 19, 1977—five years to the day from the date of the first issue to appear in Soviet-occupied Lithuania. Denied access to printing facilities, the propagators of the Chronicle laboriously type it in carbon copies and pass it from hand to hand until a copy can be smuggled out to the free world.
This issue opens with a dramatic appeal that the Vatican not appoint any new bishops for Lithuania, even though not one of the six dioceses in that largely Catholic Baltic country has a resident bishop, or Ordinary. The Chronicle reasons that new bishops appointed with the agreement of the Communist overlords will only be tools in the hands of the atheists, to be used against the Church itself.
The twenty-sixth issue of the Chronicle reports that in 1976 twenty-five priests died in Lithuania, while government restrictions allowed only nine men to complete studies at the sole surviving Roman Catholic seminary in the entire Soviet Union, located at Kaunas, Lithuania.
Even though the number of candidates allowed to enter last year was raised to nineteen, all were carefully screened by the KGB, and pressured to become informers.
The priests associated clandestinely with the clandestine Chronicle appeal to the seminarians not to let themselves be infected by government efforts to tarnish their ideals.
Chronicle No. 26 welcomes the appearance of Tiesos Kelias (The Way of Truth), an underground newsletter intended primarily for priests. The name was taken from a priests' monthly once published in free Lithuania.
Like previous issues of the Chronicle, this one reports in detail a long list of unconstitutional raids, arrests, interrogations and searches in violation of international accords, and aimed at stamping out the bootlegging of religious and other literature banned by gov
ernment policy. As usual, names, dates, addresses and inventories of articles seized are given in detail.
One of those reported arrested in connection with clandestine reproduction of religious literature, Ona Pranckūnaitė, alleged to be a religious sister, has just been tried and sentenced as this translation of Chronicle No. 26 goes to press. Details are not available.
New names continue to appear in this issue, but there is also a recurrence of names which figured in earlier issues, indicating continuing harassment of individuals and their continuing struggle for their rights.
One surprise in this issue of the Chronicle is the report that Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius, the bishop of Kaišiadorys, under virtual house arrest outside his diocese for over fifteen years, was allowed recently to preside and preach at a public Mass celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Archbishop Jurgis Matulevičius, a candidate for beatification.
The continuing resistance of the Church against efforts to destroy it is exemplified in a group of priests from the region of Vilkaviškis who, summoned to hear a Communist propaganda lecture, embarrasses the speaker with difficult questions.
Continuing government interference with clergy appointments and with priestly ministrations is documented in detail, along with the vandalizing of churches with government blessing.
A revised and more stringent contract regarding property, to be required between parishes and the government places believers at even greater disadvantage than before.
This issue of the Chronicle reports its share of specific cases of harassment of school children for the practice of religion, indicating the great struggle over the education of children, going on between the atheistic authorities and religious parents.
This issue also recalls the violent death, under suspicious circumstances, of Father V. Samsonas, sixteen years ago.
Finally, Chronicle No. 26 urges its readers not to forget the most recent prisoners of conscience.
Once again, the translation here is complete and unedited, down to the final word of thanks from the editors of the original.
Rev. Casimir Pugevičius Translation Editor
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