The faithful of Lithuania heard with great joy the broadcast greeting of the Holy Father to the Lithuanians: "To my brother Lithuanians, I wish the hope of Easter in Christ!" The priests and faithful of Lithuania are very grateful for the Pope's concern.
In all the dioceses after Easter 1979, Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis urged the Deans who were summoned to city executive committees to observe the Regulations for Religious Associations. We will report more fully in the next issue of theChronicle.
Bishop R. Krikščiūnas is saying that the Soviet government will not permit Lithuania's bishops to go to Poland when the Holy Father visits there. The government argues that the Pope's visit to Poland is not a church matter, but only a return visit to Polish authorities by the head of the Vatican State.
To: The Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
A Statement from: The Catholics of the City of Klaipeda and and the entire Republic.
We the Catholics of the City of Klaipeda in the Lithuanian SSR and the entire Republic appeal to you, Mr. Secretary General, with the request that you help us regain the church built in Klaipeda in 1961 at the expense and by the care of all Lithuanian Catholics. Soon thereafter, the church was confiscated from the faithful and converted into a philharmonic hall.
Permission to build the Catholic church in Klaipeda was received from the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the Council of Ministers of the USSR through the Council of Ministers of Lithuania. The permission was signed by then Chairman of the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium, Khrushchev.
On August 15, 1960 we were notified that the church is being closed. On February 26, 1961, the builders of the church, the Revs. Liudvikas Povilonis (now bishop) and Bronius Burneikis were indicted. Just before the priests were arrested, the matter of permission for the construction was taken to Vilnius to the Council of Ministers of the Lithuanian SSR.
After this church was confiscated, we appealed to the authorities of the USSR asking that the said church be returned, but our request was not granted.
The Catholic church which now serves the city and parish of Klaipeda does not meet the needs of the faithful: It is small, has a low ceiling, people often faint and are forced to stand outside due to overcrowding and poor ventilation. The former churches of Nida and Juodkrantė were closed, there was therefore a marked increase in the number of people at the Klaipeda church. The faithful are forced to travel to other parish churches.
Moreover, because Klaipeda is a seaport, it is visited by many sailors as well as other citizens from various states. Some of them also visit the Catholic Church and express surprise that it is the only church, and such a miserable one, in a city of this size. When they inquire whether this is the only Catholic church in the city of Klaipeda, they are told that the large and beautiful shrine of the Queen of Peace which was constructed has been confiscated from the faithful and turned into a philhormonic hall. This dishonors the representatives of the Soviet government.
We are also sending a statement of similar content to the chairman of the Council of Religious Affairs of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, V.A. Kurojedov. The statement addressed to him has been signed by 10,241 believers of the Lithuanian SSR.
The question arises, why the faithful of the city and parish of Klaipeda, who had constructed such a beautiful and spacious shrine of the Queen of Peace, cannot use it, but must content themselves with the small unsuitable building or must travel to other churches, wasting their valuable time?
Therefore, we believers of the city and parish of Klaipeda as well as of all Lithuania appeal to you, aware of the fact that if you consent to help us, the said church will certainly be returned to us.
We feel that the return of this shrine would serve to enhance the prestige of the Soviet Union not only in our country, but also internationally. This step would be welcomed by all the world's people of good will.
We, the faithful of all Lithuania, trust in your help and await your decision.
The Faithful of the city of Klaipeda and of all Lithuania
(The request with 10,241 signatures was sent to the above-mentioned address).
Copies of this statement were sent to all the bishops and diocesan administrators of Lithuania.
On April 29, 1979, the pastor of Klaipeda, Father Jonas Bai-kauskas, informed the faithful in church that he would immediately begin to repair the church and that approval had been received from the Telšiai Diocesan Chancery. The pastor's announcement greatly outraged the faithful because repair work undertaken now, when the faithful are demanding the return of the confiscated church would only serve the interest of the Soviet government. When they went to the Telšiai Chancery, the faithful of Klaipeda learned that their pastor, Father Baikauskas, had not cleared his repair plans with the diocesan administrator.
The faithful of Klaipėda have long been asking the diocesan administrator of Telšiai to appoint a new pastor for them, because Father Baikauskas is unsuitable for this position in the parish of Klaipėa. Every request from the faithful has met with no response because Father Baikauskas has the backing of the atheist government and the administrator cannot transfer him.
Therefore, the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania urges Father Baikauskas to cede his position honorably as pastor to a younger priest with the ability to properly carry out his pastoral ministry in a major city.
The Rev. Baikauskas' continued stay in Klaipėda only serves the interests of the godless.
In February 1979 Chancellor Vladas Rabašauskas of the Panevėžys diocese warned deans of the diocese in the name of Commissioner Anilionis, that signatures were being collected in other dioceses to a statement demanding that the Regulations for Religious Associations which contradict the principles of the Constitution be repealed. The Chancellor stressed that were the priests of the deaconate to sign such a statement, the deans would be punished. It would be interesting to know on the basis of what laws this warning was issued. Neither state nor church laws forbid submitting requests or demands to the authorities.
On February 10, 1979, (Mrs) Šuorienė (she was the principal witness in expelling seminarian Ričardas Jakutis from the Kaunas Theological Seminary for immoral conduct) was summoned to the Telšiai security police. When Mrs. Šuorienė refused to go to the security police, she was warned she would be taken there by militia car. At the security police, Mrs. Šuorienė had to relate in detail everything she knows about Jakutis. Security agents demanded that she submit all her testimony in writing.
It would appear that Jakutis' future is of great concern to the security police.
Viešvėnai (Rayon of Telšiai)
The faithful of the parish of Viešvėnai are unhappy that the government has forbidden Father Jonas Kauneckas to minister to the Viešvėnai parish. The faithful have appealed several times to Father Antanas Vaičius, Administrator of the Telšiai Diocese, and have presented him with a petition bearing 37 signatures, but the Administrator claims he is powerless—it is not up to him.
In fact the Administrator is powerless to do anything because Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis has forbidden Father Jonas Kauneckas to serve the Viešvėnai parish. At first, he sent the Telšiai Executive Committee a certificate of registry, certifying two priests to serve the Viešvėnai parish: Father Juozas Pačinskas and Father Jonas Kauneckas. Later Father Kauneckas' name was crossed off the certificate of registry at the Commissioner's office. The faithful were informed of this by the Telšiai Rayon Executive Committee. Afterward, a delegation of believers twice visited the Commissioner's office in Vilnius and presented him with the following petition:
To: The Commissioner for Religious Affairs From: The faithful of the parish of Viešvėnai.
The Soviet Constitution states that "the Church is separate from the state." (art. 50) and the Soviet government does not interfere in Church affairs. We therefore find it incomprehensible why you, Mr. Commissioner, have forbidden Father Kauneckas to serve the Viešvėnai church.
It is due to his efforts that the bell tower was repaired, the church painted, lighting and church vestments put in order. In his sermons, Father Kauneckas urged us to be conscientious and diligent, encouraged our children to be good students, not smoke or drink, respect adults and teachers. Moreover, the priest committed no offense when he explained to us that science does not contradict faith, that teachers do not have the right to punish or ridicule children who attend church. This freedom is guaranteed us by the Constitution: Soviet laws do not forbid belief, but guarantee everyone the freedom of belief.
Do not undermine confidence in the new Constitution; allow Father Kauneckas to once again minister in Viešvėnai.
Signed by 97 believers.
February 12, 1979
The Commissioner promised to satisfy their request. On February 26, 1979, the faithful of Viešvėnai received a letter signed by Commissioner Anilionis which contends that dioce-
Father Antanas Lukošaitis offers Easter Mass in the cemetery at Žalioji, Lithuania. In 1979, the local church was converted into a mill.
The Soviet government is blocking the purchase of this hovel by Z. Dvylaitytė, to prevent it from being converted into a catechism school. Slabadai, 1979.
san administrators appoint priests to parishes and Soviet government organs do not interfere in Church affairs.
Žalioji (Rayon of Vilkaviškis)
On March 1, 1979, the retired old people of the Catholic parish of Žalioji sent a petition to Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis requesting permission for a priest from a neighboring parish to come at Easter time and celebrate Resurrection services in a private home, because the real church has been converted into a mill. The statement was signed by 77 senior citizens. With no reply forthcoming, the faithful sent a second request to the government of the Rayon of Vilkaviškis on March 27th requesting permission to hold a Resurrection Mass on Easter in the Žalioji cemetery, at the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In lieu of a reply, the cemetery gates were locked.
The pastor of the parish of Didvyžiai, Father Antanas Luko-šaitis, availing himself of Soviet laws which permit prayer in cemeteries, celebrated Resurrection services, attended by area believers at the Žalioji cemetery at 7:00 A.M. on Easter morning.
After Easter, the secretary of the party organization at the Rumo-kai Experimental farm, Vladas Žemaitis, interrogated Vidmantas Kaminskas about how many people attended the services, from where the brass band had come and who took pictures. It seems that not only local officials, but rayon officials as well, are seriously concerned about religious services held in cemeteries.
After Easter, thirty-five believers sent the rayon government a letter of protest which states among other things: "Your order to lock all the cemetery gates caused great outrage. We cannot find the right words for this behavior."
On April 18, 1979, funeral services were held at the Žalioji cemetery for the late J. Bubnaitis. Chairman Gudynas of the Klausučiai District forbade area employees to go to the cemetery with wreaths and demanded that wreaths be left by the cemetery fence.
Slabadai (Rayon of Vilkaviškis)
(Miss) Zuzana Dvylaitytė, the caretaker of the Slabadai chapel, took up residence in a delapidated shack which had been inhabited by former chapel custodian (Mrs) Buškauskienė until her death. The faithful of Slabadai said they wanted (Miss) Dvylaitytė to live there and take care of the chapel. At the urging of Vice-Chairman Juozas Urbonas of the Vilkaviškis Rayon Executive Committee, the local government has forbidden Miss Dvylaitytė to purchase the shack. When she appealed to the Religious Affairs Commissioner (Dec. 29, 1978), he asked: "Are you perhaps thinking of establishing a school for children?" And so chapel caretaker Dvylaitytė will have to move from the shack. Soviet officials foresee danger to Marxist ideology if this shack is sold to the chapel custodian!
Šaukėnai (R a y o n of Kelmė)
To: The Council of the Ministers of the Lithuanian SSR
A P e t i t i o n
The church of the Šaukėnai parish burned down at the end of the last war. A new wood-frame church with flax fiber poured inside for insulation was built in 1947. Of course, after so many years, the flax fibers have contracted, the lumber in the walls has decayed, holes have appeared through which the wind whistles, snow blows in during the winter and rain enters when it rains. Besides, it is very cold in the winter. All this compels us to ask the Council of Ministers for permission to add one layer of brick on the outside.
In view of the fact that bricks are now freely available, we hope to receive permission for the construction work.
Committee of the Šaukėnai Roman Catholic Community.
January 23, 1976
N.B. More than three years have gone by since the request was submitted and there is still no reply. It would be interesting to know how much time Soviet agencies are allowed to reply to citizen requests?
On March 29, 1979, the Kelmė Rayon Executive Committee ordered all rayon priests to come to the rayon. The pastors of Kelmė, Kražiai, Karklėnai, Tytuvėnai, Užventis and Pakražantė came. The Russian Orthodox priest from Kolainiai sat in front. The pastors of Stulgiai, Šaukėnai, Vaiguva and Lioliai were not present. Therefore, not everyone obeyed. The assembled priests were lectured by Chairman Januška of the Rayon Executive Committee on local economic matters: how much milk was produced, how many pigs were fattened, how many plows wre repaired, etc. These same petty details were also explained last year to priests who had been summoned to the rayon.
It is surprising that certain priests still come to such "lectures." So long as such "obedient sheep" exist, rayon atheists will lecture them on plows and the increase in pig production.
Užventis (Rayon of Kelmė)
There is a Jewish burial grounds not far from Užventis right next to the main road. These graves were left untouched during the German occupation period. Now, rampaging atheists devoid of any humanity have desecrated many tombstones at the Jewish cemetery and have stolen others. What is more, horses and goats graze there in the summer.
Užventis (Rayon of Kelmė)
Vice-Chairman A. Pažarauskas of the Kelmė Rayon forbids the priest to escort the dead to the cemetery through the town.
Šaukėnai (R a y o n of Kelmė)
Bronislava Budrienė, a resident of Šaukėnai, died on February 20, 1979. Because she was a deeply religious woman, her children decided to bury her with church rites. Her one daughter was chairwoman of the Šaukėnai district. There began a rash of complaints. At the direction of the Šaukėnai cultural center methodolo-gist, two "Volgas' drove up to the Budrys property. They were fdled with atheists who attempted by means of various threats to dissuade the children from a Christian burial. The children succumbed to the pressure and buried their believing mother without the church.
The mood of the faithful was spoiled even further when the Russian spoke at the gravesite saying: "I hereby open the meeting at the grave of the deceased Budrienė." This was reiterated by communist-atheist teacher Monika Kančalskienė.
On November 21, 1977, Professor Ladauskas, head of the Obstet-rics-Gynecology Department at the Kaunas Medical Institute, was lecturing students on obstetrics. The professor warned that in our Republic you can still occassionally find physicians who categorically refuse to perform abortions because of their religious convictions. At times, such physicians are followed by interns. The professor stressed that such things are being combated strenuously. "We will not allow religious convictions to stand in the way of women's rights!" Professor Ladauskas concluded his lecture.