To: His Excellency the Administrator of the Diocese of Telšiai.
An Appeal from: The Priests of the Diocese of Telšiai.
These days we often read in newspapers, see on television news and hear radio bulletins about floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and other calamities whichcause dreadful material damage and cost thousands of lives.
In our country, thank God, there are no great natural disasters. But our nation is drowning in another evil, a flood of drunkedness which claims no fewer victims. Man and women drink too much, so do young people and teenagers; unfortunately, even church servants among our own ranks do also.
People drink "to your health", but in fact health is being undermined; people wish luck, but in fact individuals and the nation as a whole is drowning in misfortune. Moreover, the soul is being destroyed! For Christ has said that drunks will not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Seeing these disasters of body and soul as well as the danger threatening our nation, we the undersigned priests of the Diocese of Telšiai pledge to personally refrain from alcoholic beverages and urge others to refrain from using them.
With this purpose in mind, we appeal to Your Excellency asking you to urge, through your authoritative spoken and written word, the priests and believers of the diocese to do their utmost to return our country to the temperance which ruled at the time of Bishop Valančius.
Reverends: Msgr. Jonas Beinoris, Chancellor, Klemensas Arlauskas, Antanas Striukis, Bronislavas Burneikis, Juozas Meidus, Msgr. Antanas Kiela, Jonas Petrauskis, Jonas Ilskis, Bronius Pakalniškis, Jonas Kauneckas, Msgr. Kazimieras Gaščiūnas.
Dear Brother Priests:
At the urging of others and personally aware of the intense importance of the matter, I appeal to you with this letter.
Our intelligentsia today writes with great concern about the continually spreading alcoholism. There is basis for concern. Alcohol is becoming increasingly popular and becomes our inseperable companion, destroying good customs, beautiful traditions, producing dradful consequences.
The reproach that no one, except perhaps the motor vehicle inspectors (Professor Dr. A. Marcinkevičius), is fighting against alcoholism is well founded. This reproach is especially distressing to us priests who are the most responsible before God, the Church and the Nation.
What should we do then? One hundred twenty years ago our nation's noble son, the Bishop of Samogitia, M.(otiejus) Valančius, answered this question. It was he who, under extremely difficult circumstances, instituted temperance throughout the diocese of Samogitia.
In 1858 he wrote his priests as follows: "It was with great joy that I learned that the majority of people in the parishes have pledged to refrain from indulging in liquor. I credit this to the grace of God and the zeal of the clergy and hope that the sheep throughout my diocese will follow the example . . . And so, to prevent our being like the Pharisees who Christ accused of imposing hardships on others but themselves not lifting one finger, I convey to all the beloved priests in Christ my warmest wish that they refrain from drinking themselves and also refrain from giving any liquor to others . . . and thereby prove they have become an example to the people in their flock."
Somewhat later (November 28, 1858) the bishop invited Cathedral Chapter members, professors and seminarians to join the temperance movement, striving for a new era to begin with a new generation of priests.
On March 1, 1859, the bishop addressed a letter to landowners, for at the time they were quite important: "In loving your people and sincerely wishing them well, keep them within your paternal care to prevent anyone breaking the general temperance . . . Hardened drinkers will die out, a new generation will grow up, healthy and strong persons will revive."
Because the temperance campaign was conducted with such faith, strength and energy, the results were therefore amazing: over one half million non-drinkers banded together in 197 parishes of the diocese, and during the second year of temperance, revenues from alcohol fell by 68%
St. Paul, the Apostle of Nations, once wrote to the Romans: "Understand the times we live in. The hour has come for you to awaken from sleep." (Romans 13:11).
Dear Brother Priests! The hour has come for us to awaken from sleep! The approaching Easter holidays are precisely a perfect opportunity to rise together with Christ. Therefore:
1.Let us personally realize and make our flock aware that we must call on God in all matters and not reach for a liquor bottle.
2.Let us resolve and publicly declare that we will no longer touch a single drop of alcohol, and that we will not offer it to others.
3.Let us do our utmost to create a strong temperance movement in all the parishes of the diocese.
4.Let us sternly demand that alcohol not be used in connection with religious services.
5.Let us urge believers to receive Holy Communion frequently for that intention, to say the Holy Rosary individually or in groups.
6.When we greet our parishioners Easter morning, let us speak of the temperance campaign with moving words.
May the Risen Christ help you!
Rev. A. Vaičius,
Administrator of the Diocese of Telšiai
Telšiai Easter 1979.