The news reaching us from the Kaunas Seminary is not good. The KGB continues diligently recruiting seminarians as agents. Applicants to the Seminary are unabashedly told by Security agents: "If you do not work for us, you will not be admitted to the Seminary." Seminarians are compelled to give written pledges always to provide the information required by the security police.
Through the efforts of the KGB and the Religious Affairs Commission, a sizeable group of completely unsuitable applicants who terrorize good seminarians was admitted to ttte Seminary.
Seminary officials are afraid to expel such seminarians, lest they suffer the consequences. Most distressing is that some such seminarians have even been ordained, although the bishops who ordained them knew that church law itself forbids the ordination of some of them.
Seminary authorities should be thanked for expelling from the seminary, just before Christmas 1977, fourth-year seminarian R. Jakutis, who was drunk and disorderly during vacation and whom seminarians considered to be a KGB agent. It is impossible to understand the Vilnius Archdiocesan Administrator C.(eslovas) Krivaitis and others who defended this seminarian at a meeting held at the seminary. The passive position of certain instructors and Ordinaries at the meeting attest to what degree they cater to the demands of the KGB.
One seminary instructor blurted out that "we cannot afford the luxury of expelling seminarians." It is true that today every priest who begins his ministry is precious, but it is totally clear that seminarians who are immoral or work for the KGB will not serve the good of the Church.
Certain seminarians clearly work at the KGB's direction. Dedicated seminarians find notes in their drawers urging them not to be zealous because the future does not belong to the zealous. Practice sermons written by seminarians vanish from their drawers. Certain seminarians almost publicly demonstrate their ties to the KGB. Vytautas Rudys has the audacity to tell another seminarian to his face: "The security police are omnipotent and I will see to it that you are expelled from the seminary." This "seminarian" suggested to certain seminary students that they work together, exchange information on the seminary and keep it all secret. After the 1977 spring retreat, Rudys stated that he will never settle down and doesn't give a hoot about spiritual life. There are others like Rudys in other classes. Third-year seminarian Kazlauskas wrote Religious Affairs Commissioner K.(azimieras) Tumėnas a fabricated complaint that the Rev. J. Kauneckas supposedly gave an anti-Soviet speech at the Seminary. Seminary officials and the Ordinaries know that a like group of students exists among first year seminarians; in the fifth-year class there are seminarians who are both morally and philosophically unprepared to receive Holy Orders.
Since there are no means at present of protecting the Catholic Church in Lithuania against the danger of receiving from the seminary priests who are morally distorted or work for the
KGB, the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania will henceforth print the names of seminarians who publicly undermine order at the seminary or carry out KGB assignments. We will also report all those who defend such seminarians. To date, efforts to prevent morally depraved KGB agents from being ordained have not borne any fruit—fear of the KGB has paralyzed most people and this, in turn, has encouraged the Security police to infiltrate the seminary even further. It is only the KGB today which can wish that seminarians and priests would not notice how the seminary is being undermined.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania urges all seminarians to lead disciplined lives, seek an earnest spiritual life, and not succumb to the fear of being expelled from the seminary "for politics"; it urges them to work actively to prevent the seminary from becoming an arm of the KGB.
In September 1977, the bishops of Lithuania were sent a letter from a "group of seminarians," in which certain priests are condemned for attempting to draw seminarians "into politics," for disrupting the seminary's unity and the like. Identical thoughts are expressed in the KGB-edited publications The Church and the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, which has already reached the West and was accurately assessed by the emigrant daily Draugas as "a wolf in sheep's clothing."
We reprint below a KGB pamphlet distributed in the fall of 1977 to seminarians, chanceries and. priests in the name of "a group of seminarians."
"Certain priests have recently and unexpectedly taken an interest in the Kaunas Seminary. At first glance such an interest would seem laudable and necessary, if it did not have an obverse side: An attempt to disrupt the seminary's healthy atmosphere, draw seminarians away from theological studies and self-enlightenment which is of prime importance to a contemporary intellectual priest. We seminarians would be happy to voice our appreciation of this interest if it pertained only to existing and not to imagined things. But these same patrons, hiding behind a mask of virtue and assistance, are attempting to draw us into political acts foreign to us, they want us to begin serving their personal interests. Moreover, it appears that this interest in us is not entirely unexpected. Not finding any followers among the ranks of their own colleagues, this group of priests has decided to focus attention on the seminarians. In other words, they hope to find support among them. This spring we had occasion to read the leaflet S.O.S., which supposedly depicts the present situation at the seminary. The authors of the leaflet are so concerned with this situation that they forgot to sign their names, but merely signed "Priests of Lithuania." Many of us asked dozens of Lithuanian priests whether they knew of such a leaflet or wrote it. For some reason no one knew of it, and when told the leaflet's content, they all expressed an opposite view: They endorsed the existing seminary spirit, the seminarians' desire to seek greater knowledge and perfection and their unwillingness to be one-sided.
It would certainly appear that the seminarians are the best judges of what is going on in our seminary. We are therefore outraged at the distorted assertions made by the authors of the S.O.S. leaflet and at the various allegations dreamed up and printed by them for the purpose of presenting an inaccurate image of the seminary and denigrate it in the eves of all the world.
What are the authors of the S.O.S. leaflet seeking to attain? They do not like the fact that seminarians engage in sports, that they are concerned with their health and living conditions. But it seems very strange to us that we should renounce sports, when the class and study load exhausts us and we feel the need to exercise, especially since there are no physical education programs. How can we not be concerned with our health and our living conditions when we desire upon ordination to be able priests and bear the heavy burden of duty. We are simply grateful to those who help improve our living conditions. Besides, the authors ofSOS contradict themselves by writing in that same leaflet that we are invalids and need medicine and rest. Their SOS is replete with contradictions. It is strange: Could there possibly still be priests who cannot understand that modern man needs the press and that attempts to express outrage at the seminarians' interest in newspapers and the like are a sign of low learning? The charge that we read only the Communist Tiesa (Truth) and Sportas (Sports) is completely unfounded because we receive all Polish religious publications, the magazine of the Moscow Patriarchy and many diverse publications from several countries, and finally we publish our own newspaper Aukos kelyje (On the Road of Sacrifice). And no one has found fault with the series of lectures, which we ourselves requested. In the future we will ask that their number be increased. The words of a good lecturer always supplements our learning. The authors of S.O.S. are actually very absent-minded: They mention that we are lectured on politics, but in the meantime forget the lectures on art, archeology, ethics and other subjects.
And in some instances they reveal things which even we are not aware of. They write: "During the current academic year, seminarians were forbidden to wear a cross on their lapel, so as not to offend any Soviet youth they might accidentally meet." It seems strange, but we do not recall any such stricture. It is true that during a seminar conducted by the assistant dean, it was mentioned that courtesy does not permit a seminarian to lower himself to the level of street-wise kids who demonstrate their "faith" by weighing themselves down with all kinds of crosses, or to that of under-age children who take pleasure in shiny trinkets.
Blackmail points up the base purposes of the authors of S.O.S. Only morally bankrupt persons are capable of resorting to such a weapon in battle. Some seminarian may have said that he can drink when he becomes a priest, or he may not have said it; but the priest who is blackmailing him with it elicits disgust. In such a case, there are countless means of fighting without blackmail. If the seminarian made no such remark, but it was merely invented by our "patrons," we think there is no need for further comment. There are many more unjust accusations: that seminarians are KGB agents, untalented, crippled persons of questionable morality." All this is printed to foment discord and foster an unhealthy atmosphere among seminary students. This is evidence ot the "patrons" low morality, callous deceit and undignified manner.. Such rumors are a clear insult to seminary students yearning to become priests.
We therefore address Your Excellencies, Bishops and Diocesan Administrators, asking that the said small handful of priests— the authors of S.O.S. and rumor-mongers be exposed, and appropriate warning and punishment measures be taken against them for intimidating seminarians and spreading lies. We continue in our determination to proceed toward the priesthood under your direction and never to join those who, stripped of all human decency, are seeking supporters after their own image.
A Group of Seminarians
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania has obtained a copy of the letter written by the Rev. J. Kauneckas (graduated from the Seminary in 1977) to seminary students, which has been circulating among priests and which we reprint below:
To the Students of the Kaunas Interdiocesan Seminary
Someone has decided to deride the seminary: A letter of petition has been written to the bishops and diocesan administrators on behalf of the seminarians and also sent to certain priests. I myself, just recently a seminarian, know very well that there is no student at the seminary who could have publicly spread such a blatant lie.
The letter of petition contains the lie that the seminary receives "all Polish religious publications and many diverse publications from several countries." Everyone knows that there are several religious publishing houses in Poland and that every diocese publishes its own religious newspaper. The modest seminary library could not even hold all of Poland's religious publications. The Seminary receives only three information magazines from the Pax publishers (from the past academic year). An occasional spare Polish or German religious book is donated to the seminary from the personal libraries of priests. There is no systematic theological literature at the seminary. For instance, it does not contain a single copy of a complete current translation of the Bible in any of the world's languages. Many collections of sermons are published in Poland and other countries. But the seminary library does not contain a full series of sermons, it does not contain most of the papal encyclicals, memoranda or decrees from the Holy See.
Last summer the Rev. Aleksandras Kaškevič (1976 seminary graduate) travelled to Poland. While there, he attempted to order religious literature for the seminary. He wanted the seminary regularly to receive religious publications. It appears that this is forbidden.
Of the new spiritual reading or meditation books in German, there is only one: on the Cure of Ars. Even in Lithuanian, there are barely one hundred spiritual reading and meditation books published before the war. There is not a single theological textbook, not a single book dealing with current theological problems. Thus, there is no worse mockery of the seminary than to refer to "many publications from various countries." We graduated from the seminary without even seeing the works of modern Lithuanian theologians, without even hearing about them. The seminary does not have a single work by a present-day Lithuanian theologian. We know that such works are published abroad by A.(ntanas) Maceina, Pr.(anas) Gaidamavičius, A. Grauslys and others. Atheists obtain them and quote from them. Thus the article "1964 Works from the
Lithuanian Catholic Academy of Science" printed in 1971 in issue No. 2 ofProblemos quotes from Maceina, Gaidamavičius, V. Kavolis, A. Baltinis, L.(adas) Tulaba and St.(asys) Yra. Atheists weigh theological problems, read theological works, but we theologians must content ourselves with Tiesa, Sportas and other Soviet publications; we therefore know nothing of the latest theological studies or current-day problems contained in these studies.
". . . they all (namely, all Lithuanian priests) endorsed the existing seminary spirit." That is not true; most priests are concerned about the situation at the seminary. There were numerous critical remarks on the subject within the seminary itself. We recall the rector's address at the conclusion of the academic year in the spirng of 1976, and the conferences with instructors. In the rarely-heard thoughts of our spiritual father we heard not a single reproach about self-indulgence, lack of discipline, disregard for the rule of silence and the like. We all clearly remember such instances: socializing during study periods, sleeping, coffee breaks a half hour before dinner time and such talking during periods of strict silence that a seminarian wishing to study could not possibly concentrate. Seminary deans often discussed this. And you probably all still remember how the director practically pleaded for silence at Saturday conferences, pleaded with us not to disturb others, not to snack during study periods: "You probably manage to sit still longer at the movies . . ." Thanks to his extraordinary efforts, discipline increased somewhat during the past academic year.
Also, numerous seminarians often spoke openly about the lack of order during discussion periods. Is it necessary to mention names? I have personally often criticized the situation at the seminary in open discussions and in the presence of all seminarians: disorder, lack of diligence, lack of discipline and the excessive doubts of some regarding spiritual matters. I will just mention some thoughts: "Should you, a Valančius of the future, doze over a copy of S]H>rtas?
The seminary newspaper Aukos Kelyje wrote of such extreme self-indulgence among seminarians that even "on Fridays in Lent, there is snacking in some rooms; coffee is brewed not only during study periods but even during periods of strict silence." And no one denied this in public, because it was a just criticism of facts known to all. Only the anonymous group of seminarians dared defend such "order." And, as we can see, this order left much to be desired this past spring. It would appear that this was why the
S.O.S. leaflet was published. Its authors were concerned over the fact that the interests of certain alumni are limited to food, that they read only Tiesa andSportas and show no interest in anything else. According to the letter's authors, this legitimate concern is "an attempt to disrupt the seminary's healthy atmosphere, draw seminarians away from theological studies and self-enlightenment."!
"... We do not recall any such stricture" (wearing a cross on the lapel). Alas, we all still recall how we were forbidden to wear crosses at the seminary during the past academic year. Only after graduating from the seminary did we, newly-ordained priests, pin the crosses on again. Only the authors of "the letter of request" know how it is possible to weigh oneself down with them. And you can hardly call those humble, tiny, hardly noticeable crosses "shiny trinkets."
Could seminarians have written a "request" so unrelated to the truth? No! But who did circulate it at the seminary? How did it get into seminarians' desk drawers? This did not happen without the helping hand of one or another seminarian. And whom does such a seminarian serve?
October 10, 1977
Rev. Jonas Kauneckas