Paringys (Rayon of Ignalina)
A new grave appeared on December 27, 1977 in the Papilis churchyard, the Rayon of Biržai. It sheltered the mortal remains of the late Rev. Antanas Mačiulis. A large group of the faithful gathered to pay their last respects to and pray for the soul of this noble laborer in the vineyard of Christ, as did Their Excellencies Bishops J.(ulijus) Steponavičius and R.(omualdas) Krikščiūnas along with 82 other priests. The late Rev. Antanas Mačiulis attained the priesthood after overcoming the great hardships placed in his path by government officials. The deceased was born in 1941, served as pastor of Švenčionys, Aušros Vartai (Gates of Dawn) and the Paringys parish, from where the Lord called him after five years of ministry (he was ordained in 1972). Before dying, while fully conscious and aware of the consequences of cancer, he related the following:
"I graduated from the Papilis Middle School in 1959 and wished to enter the Interdiocesan seminary in Kaunas. But I could not enroll that year because I had to wait for the outcome of my military service problem. I began to work as a stockman at the Papilis MTS (Farm Machinery and Tractor Pool) and later as foreman at the land improvement department.
"After submitting the necessary documents to the seminary authorities and passing the entrance exams while I continued to work at the land improvement department, I waited during the summer of 1960 for the letter of acceptance from the seminary. A security agent once came to my place of work and ordered me to go to the Pandėlys Rayon militia department. Two persons whom I did not know were waiting for me there. They quickly flicked open their identification booklets but I could not read their names. I understood that they were security agents. They told me to sit at the table. One of them sat opposite me, while the other constantly paced behind me. The one who was seated spoke softly and kept writing something, while the other spoke less, but in a harsher manner. I was questioned about the past, about how often I used to visit the pastor, whether I brought books home from him, etc. They were very displeased at my negative reply. They inquired about my work at the warehouse, why I left, whether anything had been missing. Finally, they said they had heard about my wishing to enter the seminary. I admitted that I wanted to enroll there.
The seated man said: "Good. We need priests. But one sits in a small parish, another in a large one; one in the middle of swamp land, and another in a nice place; one rides a motorcycle, another a car. Good. We will help you, and you us."
I pretended that I did not understand anything. They again explained the reporting procedure which I should follow. I replied: "No! I will never be a traitor!" Then the "good one" became enraged and shouted: "As long as I hold this position, you will not be admitted to the Seminary!" and the "angry one" banged on the table with his fist.
They then demanded that I write what they dictated: "I, Ma-čiulis, Antanas, son of Vladas, will not tell anyone about the conversation which took place on (date, which I do not recall exactly)." I had heard that it is alright to write something to that effect. But when I wrote this sentence, they ordered me to start a new line and dictated as follows: "And while at the seminary, and upon graduating . . ." Hearing this, I spoke up: "You've just told me that I will not enter the seminary, and now you tell me to write: 'And while at the Seminary and upon graduating'. What does this mean?" I crumpled the piece of paper on which I had begun to write and threw it in the wastebasket. The "good one" angrily retrieved it from the wastebasket, smoothed it out and ordered me to write a new one. I only wrote the first sentence, that is, that I would not tell anyone and then, without leaving any space so that nothing could be inserted, I signed my name. They then released me.
"I was not admitted to the seminary that year. I was not allowed to enter the following year, although I had submitted all the documents and again had gone to Kaunas. To top it all, I was written up in the rayon newspaper in 1961. I continued to work at the land improvement department. Some time later, I considered enrolling at the Riga Theological Seminary but they refused to register me in Latvia. During the summer of 1967, I was again sought by security agents both at home and at work, but fortunately they did not find me this time. I received a letter from the seminary that I was accepted and should come to Kaunas on September 1 to begin my studies.
"So, for eight years (1959-1967) I did not have the right to follow my chosen field of studies."
August 10, 1977 Anykščiai
To: Religious Affairs Commissioner K. Tumėnas Copies to: Ministry of Health
Chancery of the Panevėžys Diocese A Statement from:Rev. Petras Budriūnas
residing in Anykščiai, Šagalovo 8.
At the beginning of 1974, a request was forwarded to you via the Chancery Office of the Panevėžys diocese regarding interference with the administering of the sacraments to seriously ill believers at the Anykščiai hospital, and on March 2nd, to the Ministry of Health from which M. Zaikauskas, first assistant to the Minister, replied in writing on April 12, 1974 that he was forwarding my request to Anykščiai Rayon Executive Committee staff for a ruling on the questions raised.
Your efforts have not changed the situation. Believing patients continue to be denied enjoyment of the rights guaranteed by law and the clergy is not allowed to perform its duties.
Countless individuals have personally or at our direction asked Chief of Staff B. Šinkūnas for permission, but never received it. I cite some instances:
On November 27, 1974, (Miss) Marytė Sraurylaitė, and on the 30th, her sister attempted to receive permission to bring a priest to see their mother (residing in theRayon of Anykščiai, Village of Kir-kiliškiai), at her request, but the Chief of Staff denied the request. Later I made the request by telephone, but all in vain, for upon hearing my request Chief of Staff Šinkūnas hung up on me.
On October 3, 1975 (Mrs.) Julija Senvaitienė (residing in Anykščiai Rayon, village of Navasadai) addressed the Chief of Staff on behalf of her husband and received the following reply: "If you want a priest, take him home where you can do as you please."
On March 5, 1976, Povilas Strazdas (residing in Anykščiai Rayon, village of Giliai) was not only not granted permission, but his wife Teklė was insulted: "Some sanctimonious fool comes and makes requests!" mocked Šinkūnas. The father of Bronius Martinonis from theRayon of Anykščiai, Village of Šlaitai, was turned down in a similar fashion on August 17, 1975, as were Klemensas Pukenis, from the Rayon of Anykščiai, Village of Liūdiš-kiai on January 10, 1976 and others. If necessary, I can produce affidavits hand written by the persons who made the requests.
On December 3, 1974, I spoke to Anykščiai Rayon Executive Committee Vice-Chairman J. Dailydė on this matter.
None of our efforts has yielded any fruit. By his actions, i.e., violating laws on religious cults, Chief of Staff Šinkūnas becomes the instigator of group offenses. We—priests, hospital employees, patients and their families—are drawn into these offenses. Convinced that it is impossible to summon us legally, they sometimes summon us in secret. This occured on April 21st of this year when (Mrs) Gaidelienė, reluctant to leave her dying husband, summoned me through (Mrs.) I. Kazlauskienė. As I knew that the Chief of Staff would refuse me permission, as he had refused in other cases, I immediately went to see my friend J. Gaidelis (residing in Anykščiai Rayon, Village of Storiai) who soon died. As I was administering religious rites, Doctor B. Šinkūnas walked in and demanded that I immediately leave. He then lectured me: "Who invited you? Don't you know that you cannot come without my permission?" "I know, but I even have a written statement that you grant permission," I replied.
The doctor began to shout hysterically, "Get out! Get out! I will notify the government! I will discharge the nurse!"
I went to see the Anykščiai Rayon Executive Committee on April 23rd about the incident at the hospital. Chairman A. Buda-vičius defended the obstinacy of the hospital administration, "We have these traditions here and we will not change them."
I remarked, "Do not confuse violation of laws with violation of traditions."
In repeating my request, I ask you, Mr. Commissioner, to see to it that moral discrimination agains believers not recur, that the Chief of Staff, and in his absence, the physician on call, allow a priest to be summoned for those who request the sacraments and thus remedy an unfortunate situation which has existed at the Anykščiai hospital for over fifteen years.
April 26, 1976 Rev. P. Budriūnas,
Assistant Pastor of Anykščiai
To: His Excellency the Apostolic Administrator of the
Panevėžys Diocese, Bishop Dr. Romualdas Krikščiūnas, and members of the Chapter. I wish accurately to inform Your Excellencey and the members of the Chapter of the sermon I preached at the second Christmas Day Mass. I am enclosing the full text.
Rev. Juozas Janulis, Assistant Pastor of the Anykščiai Church
A Merry Christmas to all! It is good to see this massive crowd which has assembled from all corners of the parish, despite the bad weather, wet and slippery roads. It is pleasant to see your happy and peaceful faces which are a reflection of your hearts. All of this once again proves that Christ is truly born, that He lives in your hearts.
I say it is good to see you happy because I have been working among you for a year and a half, this is the second Christmas, and over that time I have seen many of your sorrows and tears, which I cannot forget even on this joyous day. I remember how upon arriving here 1 strolled the path between the churchyard and hospital property and saw an old and debilitated woman hiding in the hedge along the path and waiting for me. Tears were rolling from her eyes. Drawing near, she apologized and said: "I am very weak, but when I saw through the hospital window that you were walking here Father, I thought that I might have enough strength to come and ask, Father, when I am worse, please bring me the Sacraments."
I replied: "All right, but you must first receive permission from the Chief of staff for a priest to come to the hospital." "If only you agree, Father, I will ask permission," the old woman brightened. But she was not granted permission.
I cannot forget how during services, while I was sitting in the confessional, a very agitated woman ran right up to the front of the confessional and said: "Father, my husband has suffered an attack, the ambulance has taken him to the hospital, please come and give him the Sacraments while he is still alive." You can imagine her great agitation and sorrow. Although a priest does not always dare disturb another priest who is hearing confessions, nevertheless her tragedy did not allow her to wait for a convenient moment.
I replied: "Yes, I will come, but until you receive permission from the doctor, I will not be allowed into the hospital." The woman hurried out, but was not granted permission.
I remember how, walking along the rectory path, I was approached by a weeping man, who asked: "Father, what should I do, my wife is growing weaker in the hospital. I went to see the Chief of Staff to ask permission to bring a priest, but he replied: "Go see the priest yourself and go to confession in her stead." And I also did not know what to do, for it has happened more than once that the doors were locked right in the pastor's face as he went to see a patient without permission. The pastor can tell you hundreds of similar incidents. So, when you see and know all of this is it possible to remain silent?!
You have probably heard that on November 20th of this year (1977) a sermon was delivered in church on that subject. When I preached that sermon at the time, I knew I would be summoned as a consequence to the Rayon Executive Committee for an explanation. That is exactly what happened. About a week and a half later, I was summoned to explain, among other things, why I was slandering doctors. Only after I presented concrete proof did those who had summoned me calm down somewhat. Then other topics were broached: the youth procession held during the St. Ann recollections, when our diocesan shepherd (administrator) came to visit the Anykščiai parish. I stated that since September 1st, the upper grade students who had participated in the procession, especially boys and their fathers, have been terrorized by their teachers. They have been threatened with especially unfavorable letters of reference if they attend church; they will not be admitted to any school of higher education, etc. Rayon Vice-Chairman Dailydė expressed astonishment, at least it seemed he did not approve of such tactics by the teachers, but Deputy Barkauskienė (the Vice-Chairman had introduced her as such, her real position is Secretary of the Anykščiai Rayon Communist Party for ideological work) expressed no surprise whatsoever, but clearly and haughtily assured me: "And the unfavorable letters of reference will be written, and they will not be admitted to schools of higher education."
My eyes were then opened: this is the root of all terror, this is why so many tears are being shed by innocent, unfortunate people— these are the fruits of ideological action ...I had other things to say, but what was the purpose? what was the purpose of saying that Rita Žalaitė, a 10a-grade student at the J. Biliūnas School, was summoned by the school principal and assistant principals to their office and terrorized by all means at their disposal simply because she participated in the procession: Why isn't she a Communist Youth League member, why does she participate in church processions and so on. The first to lose her composure was Assistant Principal (Mrs.) Skairienė: "I can't even look at you because you are a believer . . ."
Assistant Principal Pavilanskienė raged even more: "How can you, a believer, even touch a school desk, let the priest buy you that desk. If you are a believer, you will not be admitted to any school of higher education." The principal continued: "Why are you still going to school? You won't graduate anyway and will not be admitted to any school of higher education." Although a very good student, the girl replied that she has no hope of entering a school of higher education, she will enroll in a trade school. "You will not be admitted to a school of higher education or a trade school," shouted the principal. "Then I will work as an ordinary worker, but I will still go to church," the student would not yield. Without accomplishing anything, the teachers ordered the girl to leave, and (Mrs.) Pavilanskienė again threatened: "You can count on being called in again."
If the principal and his assistants behave toward students in this manner, it is not surprising that believing students at the school are forbidden not only to speak, but also to remain silent about religion. Even parents of lower grade children have voiced complaints on the subject, but let us take, as an example, that same grade 10a. Homeroom teacher (Mrs.) Lesnikauskienė gave special orders to the communist youth league secretary that during the class program to be held on January 31, 1978, speeches on anti-religious subjects must be given by the believing students who had participated in the procession: Linas Ladyga and Rita Žalaitė. Is a greater mockery and degradation of a believing student possible?
Although art. 52 of the USSR Constitution guarantees citizens freedom of conscience, although art. 65 states that "a USSR citizen must respect the rights and lawful interests of other individuals . . ." but what does the Constitution mean to homeroom teacher Lesnikauskienė or other teachers who behave in such a way, if they have the backing of the assistant principals, the principal and finally the deputy herself—Communist Party Secretary Barkauskienė.
And this is still not all. When I left the Executive Committee, another "button" of ideological action was pushed. Several days later, as I was going to the post office, I met near the post office a student returning from school who told me the following: "Father, you probably don't know that at this very moment Algis Pipiras (llth-grade student at the J. Biliūnas School, who participated in the procession) is sitting in the children's room at the Militia." I asked what he had done? He replied: "What, Father, don't you know?! If you are summoned to the children's room at the Militia, the Security police are waiting there." That is exactly what happened. Security agent Chikelev summoned the students who had participated in the procession one by one: Algis Pipiras, later Valentinas Zaikauskas, Engenijus Šiaučiūnas . . . and terrorized them in various ways: if the youths attend church they will not gain admission to any school, they will not graduate . . . finally, they will be imprisoned, they will rot in jail. But even Chikelev did not succeed in breaking the youths. "If we are not admitted to any school, we will work with pitchforks," most replied. Although the boys displayed courage and strength, the intimidation affected them to such an extent that some could not sleep at night. But the fact that, as the first student was still sitting at the security office, the students at the school already knew that he had been summoned by the security police, is a clear proof that this is not the first time the security police has used such methods.
If I preached first sermon knowing that I would be summoned to the Rayon Executive Committee, then in preaching this one I know that the Central Committee in Vilnius will hear of it. We will see what will happen next: will all these terrorists be disciplined, will another button of terror be pushed either against believers or against youth, or finally against me. If I am transferred from here, if someone is sent to stab me in the back, if a traffic accident is arranged in which I will die, or finally if some kind of case is fabricated against me and I am imprisoned—that will be a sign that the starting point of all this terror is not in Anykščiai, but in Vilnius.
Whatever happens, you know that I speak the truth. And I know that if I called on the youth to witness to this truth, they would all say that it is true. If I were to call on you to witness to this truth, hundreds of thousands of you would be with me. And I say to you: It is better to wear the garb of a prisoner than to remain silent while wearing a cassock and seeing your tears; it is better that the shackles of a prisoner clang on my wrists than to bless you with the same hand and pretend that I don't see your anguish; it is better to rot in prison than to remain silent. And if I speak thus today, these are not my words. These are the words of those sleepless nights when the youth and their parents were in anguish, these are the words of those tears shed by patients and their families, finally, this is the cry of anguish of all the people who died without the Sacrament and that of their relatives.
But, my dear brethren, do not weep. Today is Christmas! The birthday of Christ reminds us that your suffering and tears flow into the suffering and tears of the Child Jesus. Christ is with us! He is protecting and defending us, He wipes away our every tear and leads us where there is no suffering or injustice, where there is eternal Christmas. Amen.
Anykščiai Christmas, 1977
On March 15, 1978, Janina Buzaitė, residing in Kapsukas, at Vaičaičio g. 3-2, was summoned to the Kapsukas KGB department where security chief Vilkas and one of this assistants attempted to find out how information about Buzaitė had found its way several times into the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. (Miss) Buzaitė was also ordered to sign a document (written by the security agents) stating that information printed about her in the Chronicle was false. Buzaitė confirmed that the information the security agents had read in the Chronicle was accurate, but did not know how it found its way into the Chronicle. The interrogation lasted three hours.
In February, while Buzaitė was in the hospital, "sanitation department workers" pulled up the floor of her apartment in search of the spot where "water had frozen" in the pipes, although flowers bloomed in the apartment. People think that this was an ordinary search conducted by security agents.
The Religious Affairs Commissioner sent the following reply to Šeduitkis, organist at the Telšiai Cathedral, in answer to his statement (see Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania No. 31) in which he sought help in preventing the demolition of the covered shrine erected next to his house:
"This is to notify you that it is not within the jurisdiction of this office to change rulings made by the Rayon People's Council of Deputies Executive Committee. If necessary, such rulings can be changed by the LSSR Council of Ministers."
The Rev. A. Ylius was summoned on February 11, 1977 to the Šiauliai Prosecutor's office. LSSR Assistant Prosecutor J. Bakučio-nis "replied" to Rev. A. Ylius' statement in which he demanded that persons slandering him be prosecuted. In the opinion of the prosecutor, there is no basis to prosecute the authors of the books because the material was taken from Rev. A. Ylius' dossier.
The meeting was attended by security agent Česnavičius and Dean of Šiauliai, the Rev. L. Mažonavičius, who was brought in by the government officials to help them calm down Rev. Ylius.
"This no longer involves you personally. You have been registered. You should keep quiet and do your work," Dean L. Mažonavičius assured him.
"What do you mean this does not involve me?" Rev. Ylius asked in amazement. "At least three atheist propaganda books have been published since I've been promised I would no longer be slandered. These new slanders are giving me no peace. I therefore cannot remain silent, I must defend myself."
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania feels that it is not fitting for the Dean to act as councillor to the godless prosecutor.
On December 21, 1977, Juozas Šileikis left Šiauliai carrying a cross on his back and headed toward the Hill of Crosses. Because he was carrying the cross on a workday and the road surface of the highway was occupied in both directions by moving traffic, he had to wade with the cross through the snow-covered shoulder. Drivers using the road slowed down their vehicles and started at the sight. Along the road, one very astonished and weeping woman addressed Šileikis:
"My child, where did you find the determination and the courage to publicly carry a cross in broad daylight?"
"With a cross, it is not frightening to walk even into a group of demons," boldly replied Šileikis.
Immediately after leaving the city, Šileikis was passed by a Motor Vehicle Department car, then that same car passed again going in the opposite direction very slowly, observing the cross carrier. Once he turned into the road leading to the Hill of Crosses, the cross carrier was once again passed by the motor vehicle inspectors who came back and stopped. Stepping from the car, the motor vehicle inspector asked:
"Where are you dragging that cross?"
"To the Hill of Crosses, Mr. Inspector," replied Šileikis without taking the cross from his shoulders.
"And for what reason are you dragging it?"
"For a personal intention."
"And where do you live?"
"In Šiauliai," briefly replied the man.
In the vehicle sat another official who kept glancing disdainfully at the cross carrier. The motor vehicle inspector then said: "Well, go ahead and drag that cross. Good luck!"
M.(ečislovas) Jurevičius was summoned on June 17, 1977 to see interrogator A. Tručinskas who inquired why Jurevičius is not employed anywhere. Lieut. Col. Baziulis read an official warning about a parasitic way of life and ordered him to sign it. Jurevičius refused to sign.
On July 19, 1977, Jurevičius was again summoned to see interrogator Tručinskas. He was berated for maintaining ties with foreign countries, thereby relaying news about himself. Militia or security police official Milišauskas sternly said: "You should be prosecuted, so you had better go work. You are rotten to the core. Go to church less and don't have any dealings with sanctimonious fools."
Upon learning that Jurevičius works as a sacristan at the Žarėnai church, militia officials stated on August 29th that the case against him is being dropped.
After this, Jurevičius was again summoned several times to the militia, but refused to go.
Deltuva (R a y o n of Ukmergė)
During the night of March 4, 1978, all the stations of the cross were stolen from the Deltuva churchyard.
Adutiškis (R a y o n of Švenčionys)
On October 15, 1977, the Rev. B. Laurinavičius, pastor of the Adutiškis parish, sent USSR Supreme Soviet Chairman and Secretary General of the Communist Party Leonid Brezhnev an open letter consisting of 73 large-size pages. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania is reprinting excerpts from this letter and certain ideas expressed therein. Some of the facts mentioned in the open letter have already been published in theChronicle.
"The mass media in Soviet Lithuania is very often biased and innacurate: on the one hand it portrays a distorted past of Lithuania, and on the other it slanders the Catholic Church, her priests and believers . . .
"For some reason, Lithuania's honorable past is being concealed in Soviet times. Graduates, receiving their diplomas, know practically nothing about it. . . Today, there is no mention of the fact that Lithuania's leaders were brave and able men and were capable of restraining their predatory neighbors. There is no mention of their character traits: they never forced foreigners to become assimilated—learn a foreign tongue—as is being done today . . ..
"Today, when Lithuania's past is discussed, it is emphasized that until 1940 she was a backward nation in every respect, and the reason for her backwardness was the former capitalist system and Christianity. That is not true. Lithuania was backward not until 1940, but until she regained her independence, i.e., until 1918. It is not the Church and the capitalist system which are to blame for the fact that Lithuania was backward until 1918, but her neighbors, whom no one condemns or even recalls the injury done Lithuania . . . From 1569 to 1775, she was oppressed by Polish Nobles, and from 1775 to 1915 by the Russian czars. The Russian czars incorporated Lithuania into their empire, they did not even mention, but in its place "Pribaltė (Baltic State), "Nemuno kraštas" (Land of Nemunas).
"When Lithuania regained her independence in 1918 she inherited neither money, weapons nor seeds, but, by worshipping God, accomplished and achieved much in 20 years.
"In independent Lithuania, under that regime so cursed and condemned by the Marxists, true freedom of the press flourished in the full and real sense of that word. Freedom of the press was enjoyed by all the inhabitants of Lithuania—all parties. We read in the June 2, 1976 issue of "Tiesa" (Truth) that political prisoners at the Kaunas forced labor prison published their own magazine "Kovotojas" (Fighter).
"And what is the situation of the freedom of the press in the Soviet Union today? It exists only in article 50 of the Soviet Union Constitution. Believers and those who have opposing views do not have any press . . . The freedom is only such, as Lenin said, that one can buy various Marxist and atheist publications whose aim is to ridicule the Church, believers, priests; to accuse and slander them, to spread their views which are beneath criticism and mislead the public.
"Here is an example of how Marxists deceitfully write for the purpose of misleading and slanting the public against priests and the Church. In the Rayon of Švenčionys, the Lithuanian Communist Party organ Žvaigždė (Star) published (April 2, 1974) an article entitled "Communion and the Automaton" which states: "Reactionary clergymen (...)energetically opposed socialist changes. S. Milkevičius, chancellor of the Vilnius archdiocese, urged that the newly formed state farms be burned down and state farm workers murdered." Such a chancellor did not even exist!
"All citizens pay taxes, a large portion of which is set aside to subsidize the press, radio and television, and the use of these media is enjoyed only by Marxists and atheists. And the most painful part is that they very often use them only for evil.
"Peter Plumpa, being a sensitive man and seeing that the citizens of Soviet Lithuania lack prayerbooks and catechisms, printed some using very primitive methods. He harmed no one with his self-sacrificing work and had no personal gain, but was so harshly punished. It is not he who is guilty, but those who drafted the Constitutions of the Soviet Union and the Lithuanian SSR which guarantee freedom of the press. If these Constitutions had not mentioned or had denied the freedom of the press, P. Plumpa would certainly not have printed them.
"Nijolė Sadūnaitė did not agitate against the government and did not cry: "Down with . . .!", but only recorded the wrongs— actual facts— committed against the Catholic Church in Lithuania. She has been sentenced to three years in prison and exile for the simple recording of facts.
"After suffering 15 years in exile, His Excellency (Bishop) Julijonas Steponavičius wrote a statement to the Council of Ministers of the LSSR, in which he pointed out the wrong done him—his unjust expulsion from the position which was his by right. The statement not only did not accelerate his rehabilitation, but angry threats were heard: "Why did he write? Now everything is finished!" What kind of crime is this? He wrote to Soviet organs, didn't he? Did imprisoned Marxists remain silent and are they silent now? No! They write, ask, demand. It is not His Excellency Bishop Julijonas who should be accused, but those who exiled him unjustly and "forgot" about his case.
"When the Russians came, Lithuanian school, libraries and nursery schools were closed down in Belorussia. Although art. 45 of the Soviet Union Constitution states that "teaching in schools is conducted in the native tongue," Lithuanian children, to whom Russian and Belorussian are foreign because they have spoken Lithuanian since birth, must study in a language which they do not understand.
"Preserves are being set aside in the Soviet Union. Efforts are being made to keep frogs, small reptiles and animals large and small from becoming extinct, but in Belorussia Lithuanians are condemned to a loss of national identity.
"A nationalist is not one who loves his native tongue, uses it and defends its rights, but one who hates those who speak other tongues, forces others to forget their native tongue and imposes his own language.
"In the Soviet Union a kilowatt of electricity is sold to ordinary citizens at 4 kopecks, but church committees must pay as much as 25 kopecks tor tnat very same unit.
"Upon reaching the age of 60, citizens of the Soviet Union no longer pay taxes, but has anyone heard of an old priest, unable to work, or of a church employee enjoying this privilege.
"Citizens receive pensions upon reaching a certain age. But was a pension ever granted a priest or church employee? But they still paid taxes. They paid more than ordinary citizens. Priests and church employees pay taxes under a special rate.
"The Soviet press writes that, in certain capitalist states, racists avoid travelling in the same vehicle with blacks, do not go to meetings attended by blacks.
"L. Adomėlis, a student at the Lithuanian Agricultural School, died on December 7, 1975. His father came and asked that I bury his dead son. A teacher at the Agricultural School said to the father: "If a priest is present at the funeral, we will not attend." Isn't this a racist attitude, covered by a cloak of atheism?
"We can justify demolitions for projects which are absolutely necessary, but whom did the landmark Three Crosses—which stood since 1613—disturb in the city of Vilnius. These crosses had been continually restored for 256 years, and only in 1869 did the Russian czar forbid their repair. Once the czar fell from power, the people of Vilnius rebuilt the Three Crosses, but the Marxists demolished them.
"Whom did the three statues—St. Helen with the Cross, St. Stanislaus and St. Casimir— which stood on the facede of the Vilnius Cathedral disturb? They did not interfere with traffic, but they were torn down because the Marxists did not like them.
"When the Rev. V. Černiauskas, pastor of the Mielagėnai parish, for the sake of convenience replaced a window with a door in the old rectory, a tremendous uproar was heard, but not a single word was heard from anyone when the Vilnius Cathedral was damaged.
"On January 6, 1976, I was driven to see ailing K. Purlonas, residing in the village of Narkevičiai, eight miles on a motorcycle when it was -23 degree C (-9 degrees F). The request of a zealous and conscientious worker of the Soviet Union, working on a state farm, was rejected: no car was provided to bring a priest. Did not the sick man, who worked on the state farm for free and later for only a few kopecks earn the use of a car to have a priest brought to him?
"When I wished to acquire a Lithuanian grammar and a Lithuanian language textbook, I visited all the bookstores of Vilnius and many other Rayons, but did not buy any: none were available. It is equally impossible to obtain the works of Valančius, Šatrijos Ragana, Baranauskas, Simas Daukantas and other earlier Lithuanian writers. Their works were given minuscule printings, while atheist publications, which arouse little interest unless one is interested in perusing Marxist ignorance, are given massive printings—for instance,Tales of a Rabbit, was printed in 50,000 copies. The title is nice, but the contents are a collection of horrible nonsense. Copies of Tales of a Rabbit were brought and handed out to children as "gifts" at New Year's parties. So, if citizens do not buy atheist publications of their own will, they are thrust upon them by force.
"Having ridiculed and debased belief in God, Marxists have themselves begun to establish and forcibly instill a new, extremely disciplined and dogmatic belief.
"We only believe in the infallibility of the Pope, but Marxists believe that every Communist is infallible.
"Having rejected the Bible, Marxists have submitted their perhaps even "holier" books—the writings of Marx, Engel and Lenin.
"Marxists laugh that the Church promises neaven to the poor, but Marxists urge common laborers to work to the best of their ability "for the good of a bright and happy Communist era."
"Marxists ridicule the rites of the faithful, they call these rites superstition, but themselves create their own rites and force everyone to observe them.
"The faithful conduct processions with flags and pictures of the saints, but Marxists hold parades with flags and pictures of their leaders. The faithful sing hymns in honor of the True God, but Marxists sing hymns in honor of the Party and their leaders.
"Marxists mock believers who kneel before the cross and kiss it, while they themselves also kneel before flags and kiss them.
"The faithful used to observe days of abstinence. Having abolished Friday abstinence, the Marxists have imposed abstinence on Thursdays.
"In earlier times, believers visited holy places, but having abolished these places, Marxists have begun to establish their own and visit them.
"Believers pray for success, inspiration and blessing at the altar, while Marxists do the same at the mausoleum.
"When Marxists spy a cross, scapular or medal around a believer's neck, they laugh that believers believe in talismans, but they themselves wear all kinds of talismans: Pioneer "Little Stars", Communist Youth League pins, and when they reach adulthood wear all kinds of pins and symbols. Marxists cannot bear to see a cross. Midwife Valodzhkina tore a medal during labor from Marijona Malec, residing in the village of Luki, Rayon of Pastoviai, in the Belorussian SSR.
"Soviet propagandists say that the state does not interfere in Church internal affairs, but in fact it is interested in the smallest detail.
"The Rev. A. Čiuras related that Ignalina Rayon Executive Committee Vice-Chairman Vaitonis wanted to attend a church committee meeting.
"In 1973, the most conscientious members of the "committee of twenty" (parish council — trans, note)—E. Vaitekėnas, M. Raginis, (Mrs.) C. Burokienė—were not confirmed in the Adutiškis parish.
"If the Church is separate from the state, then why does the state demand the most detailed information from diocesan chanceries, on how many were baptized, married, buried, how many sacristans, janitors, choir members and the like?
"Marxists charge that the Church used to list certain books in the so-called "Index of Forbidden Books." But just ask where and how a book on a religious topic can be obtained in the Soviet Union?
"Just ask who will evaluate and count the art masterpieces destroyed when churches, monasteries and Orthodox churches were closed and liquidated? Marxists do not have the right to accuse the Church of destroying works of art.
"The Church is very often charged in the press, over radio and television with inquisitorial atrocities. On November 22, 1976, the poetess, Miss Šulcaitė read her verses about the Inquisition in the Middle Ages over Vilnius television. I am certain that she well remembers the times when our countrymen were charged and departed to frigid Siberia without any foundation. What crime did the Aželionis family, residing in the village of Verseka, the Rayon of Šalsčinskai, commit? I still see that terrible sight which will never face from my memory, when several small half-naked children were placed in a wagon and taken to exile in Siberia. In the Middle Ages, victims were burned, they suffered one or two hours, but in the 20th century, victims had to suffer for years hunger, thirst and loneliness until death.
"The authorities of independent Lithuania are accused of paying the salaries of army and school chaplains who taught religion. But there were very few of them, while today how many various pioneer leaders, political leaders, secretaries; propagandists and the like are there who do not speak for free. There are 32,300 inhabitants in the Rayon of Joniškis and 63 party organizations (therefore, that many secretaries), 153 propagandists, 900 political officers, 530 speakers of the Žinija (information) Society.
"Churches in the countryside are half-empty, but that is not surprising. The number of families is falling. The villages are growing old. Schools are becoming empty and closing. Of the several schools within the boundaries of the Adutiškis parish, only three remain: in Adutiškis, Svirkai and the vegetating village of Kackoniai. Churches are not the only ones half-empty, so are stadiums. If film theaters, which sometimes have only three customers, and various so-called cultural agencies were not subsidized by the government, they would quickly close. The Church, without receiving anything from the state, covers all her expenses and pays the highest taxes.
In this statement, Father B. Laurinavičius cites many of the evils of present-day life: terrible drunkedness, growing crime rate, breakup of families, the legal murder of unborn children, and points out that these are not anachronisms of the past, but the results of compulsory atheist upbringing. "Experimentation is allowed and acceptable only using guinea pigs and other animals, but it is forbidden to experiment with society by forcibly inculcating atheism."
Klausučiai (R a y o n of Vilkaviškis)
On March 16, 1978, VI. Žemaitis, party organization secretary at the Rumokai experimental farm, and other party members invited people to the cultural center hall, saying that the bishop would come to resolve the problem of returning the Žalioji church. The entire hall filled with people. Actually, volunteer speakers came from the Vilkaviškis Sewing Factory, as did Vytautas Starkus accompanied by four persons. When the former priest was introduced to the people, they began to leave the hall in groups and a mere 20 remained.
Žalioji (R a y o n of Vilkaviškis)
Several Catholics of the Žalioji parish, who had signed a statement addressed to Leonid Brezhnev, were summoned on February 22, 1978 to see Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee Vice-Chairman J. Urbonas. The people who came to the Rayon— T. Kaminskienė, B. Gudaitienė, B. Kardauskas, B. Mickevičius, A. Nešukaitytė and A. Anskaitienė—were told by Vice-Chairman Urbonas that the Rayon government had decided not to reopen the Žalioji church, for it had been closed legally in 1963 by decision of the Council of Ministers. The faithful asked to see this decision, but Urbonas did not present it.
Žalioji (R a y o n of Vilkaviškis)
To: V. Kuroyedov, Chairman of the USSR Council for Religious Affairs;
J. Maniušis, Chairman of the LSSR Council of Ministers. A Statement from: The believers of the Žalioji parish, in the Rayon of Vilkaviškis, Lithuanian SSR. We, believing Catholics of Žalioji, demand that our church, which Vilkaviškis RayonExecutive Committee Vice-Chairman S. Rogovas closed in 1963 against our will without a ruling by the Council of Ministers, be reopened. It now houses a mill established in 1977.
Encouraged by the USSR Constitution, we protest such arbitrariness on the part of the local government and ask that our rights, so brutally violated, be redressed.
March 16, 1978
Believers of the Žalioji parish (Signed by 149 persons)
To: V. Kuroyedov, Chairman of the USSR Council for Religious Affairs;
J. Maniušis, Chairman of the LSSR Council of Ministers. A Statement from: The believers of the town of Klausučiai, Rayon of Vilkaviškis, Lithuanian SSR.
At the decision of the Vilkaviškis Rayon government, the Žalioji Catholic parish church was closed in 1963 against our will. We, believers, have no place to pray. We ask you to restore our rights, which were guaranteed us by the Constitution newly promulgated by the Soviet government. The rights of believers were explained by our Rayon newspaperPergalė (Victory) and by Religious Affairs Commissioner K. Tumėnas himself. We do not want a mill which was established to our outrage at beginning of July 1977, but a church. We will not rest until the church, which rightfully belongs to us, is returned.
March 19, 1978
Catholics of the town of Klausučiai (Signed by 144 persons)
Joint efforts are being made in an attempt to slander, compromise and accuse Rev. Kauneckas and organist Šeduikis. They are openly followed. People demonstratively come listen to the sermons of Rev. Kauneckas with tape recorders. They come not one, but four at a time, to the Telšiai Cathedral and the church at Viešvėnai. In addition, the security police chief has recently personally been summoning choir members, students who attend church and their parents. The Security police is attempting to use the discord which exists among the faithful, urging that complaints be lodged against priests and the like. It would appear that justice and legal standards no longer exist in Telšiai. The faithful are publicly threatened by the security police and the militia. And those threats are carried out.
The Viešvėnai area received special material on Rev. Kauneckas: documents, photographs and the like. A special meeting was called at the Lenino keliu (Lenin's Path)state farm at which the faithful were ordered to sign a document against Father Kauneckas, but all refused. By means of thus gathering some sort of "indictable" evidence, security agents will probably find communist youth league members and Communist who will condemn and convict Rev. Kauneckas, thus taking revenge for his sermons on atheism.
This is what the new Constitution has brought to Telšiai!
Raudėnai (R a y o n of Šiauliai)
The pastor is not allowed to accompany deceased believers to the cemetery in Raudėnai.
Kvėdarna (R a y o n of Šilalė)
A tall oak cross decorated with artistic ornamental carvings used to stand near the former Kvėdarna rectory. On January 17, 1978, Šilalė Rayon Executive Committee Vice-Chairman P. Baguška sent Kvėdarna District Chairman Aloyzas Toleikis three hoodlums who had been sentenced to two weeks in prison—Zigmas Keblas, Antanas Armonas and Arvydas Lapinskas—who cut down the cross, threw it into the car os Stasys Diglys and dumped it along the cemetery fence.
The public and barbaric destruction of this artistic cross is an example of the "humane" treatment being accorded the faithful and their beliefs.
The Kvėdarna church committee sent a letter of protest to the Religious Affairs Commissioner.
Kvėdarna (R a y o n of Šilalė)
The beautiful Drungeliškiai chapel, approximately 6 m. by 7 m. (18' by 21') in size, stands in the woods within the boundaries of the Kvėdarna parish. Inside, there is a smaller chapel, approximately 3 m. by 3 m. (9' by 9'). The Drungeliškiai chapel is well loved and often visited. People make solemn vows there and traverse the inside of the smaller chapel on their knees.
On January 4, 1978, this chapel was burglarized and all the statues stolen:
1) Jesus of Nazareth (life size), dated 1840.
2) St. Barbara — about 70 cm. (27") high.
3) Virgin Mary — about 80 cm. (30") high.
4) Virgin Mary — about 40 cm. (15") high.
5) Three angels — about 50-60 cm. (20"-23") high.
6) Four candelabra — about 40 cm. (15") high.
1) Crown of Jesus of Nazareth, which was hung separately the wall.
All the statues were wooden.
On February 22, 1978 it was determined that this chapel had been burglarized by residents of Kvėdarna—the Žebrauskas family. Both parents are party members and the son, Vladas, is a member of the Communist Youth League. The father works as a driver at the MSV, the mother is chief technician at the Kvėdarna dairy and chairwoman of the Kvėdarna Women's Council, the son is an lib-grade student at the Kvėdarna Middle School. The Žebrauskases invited their neihghbor'son— Arturas Stanevičius, also an lib-grade student and Communist Youth League member—to help them and went to the Drungeliškiai chapel in their Volga. The people of Kvėdarna are amazed and greatly outraged that the government is not punishing them.
The faithful of the Mažeikiai parish have often had occasion to send letters to the Telšiai diocesan chancery. The situation at this large urban parish (about 30,000) is abnormal. The church is neglected, falling into disrepair. There is not a single young choir member or altar boy at the church. During processions, flags are carried only by old men and flowers are strewn by old women. The Dean of Mažeikiai, Msgr. Miklovas, will not permit, young people at the altar, and has chased away young girls who came to adore the Blessed Sacrament. Many people refuse to receive Holy Communion from the Monsignor's hands and travel to neighboring parishes. Children are not given any religious instruction and are often permitted to receive First Communion without being examined.
The Telšiai chancery is aware of all these facts and many others. The administrator claims that there is nothing he can do or that it is not within his jurisdiction.
The government of the Širvintos Rayon demanded at the end of 1977 that district executive committees collect data on how many baptisms, marriages, funerals and other religious services were performed in churches. Chairmen who are more candid have said that the Rayon committee needs this data which will be used to determine the results of atheist work and future work plans.
Vice-Chairman D. Tverbutas of the Širvintos Rayon demands that permission be obtained from the Rayon government for priests to come for devotions, retreats and priests' retreats.
Priests have boycotted this demand in most Rayons and Rayon governments have refused to enforce this provision. It is time for the remaining Rayon priests to do likewise.