IN THIS ISSUE:
The Hungarian Cardinal's Visit
The Occupation: A Catastrophe for the Catholic Church of Lithuania
Instead of Hope — Fear
Will There Be New Bishops?
The Concerns of the LSSR Prosecutor's Office
Soviet Laws Are Being Ignored
Angelė Ramanauskaitė's Trial
The Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights
The Struggle for Religious Freedom
The March to Šiluva
To the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party
Searches Conducted in Lithuania
News from the Dioceses
In the Soviet School
The Church in Other Soviet Republics
New Underground Publications
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
No. 40 October 19, 1979
Read and pass on!
Published since 1972!
This issue is dedicated to
for his love of Church and Homeland
The Primate of the Hungarian Catholic Church, the Archbishop of Estergon, Laszlo Cardinal Lekai, visited Lithuania in the middle of October accompanied by two Hungarian bishops, three prelates, three priests, and two Russian Orthodox bishops. This was the second visit made to Soviet Lithuania by a cardinal.
In its October 18 issue Tiesa (Truth) included only a few lines describing the visit.
Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis had given instructions that the Hungarian Primate should receive at least as warm a welcome as had been given to the German Cardinal Bengsch. To achieve this, members of the Kaunas Cathedral Choir were even allowed time off from their government jobs.
On October 12 at 11:30 a.m. Cardiral Lekai and his entourage arrived at the Kaunas cathedral, where a large crowd of believers awaited. The cathedral bells rang, the crowd sang "Marija, Marija," and girls stationed the length of the cathedral covered the cardinal's path with flowers. Inside, Bishop L. Povilonis greeted the distinguished guest with a mention in his address of the approaching 600th anniversary (in 1987) of the establishment of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. The Cardinal, delivering the sermon in German, concelebrated mass with the two Hungarian bishops and six clergymen.
For the past seven years the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania has recorded numerous instances of how Lithuania's faithful ire being oppressed and of how our own countrymen — officials, party members, teachers, sometimes even clergymen — are involved in a sinister plan to render our nation godless by acting as gravediggers to bury our Church and Country. There are some, however, who claim that the Chronicle's facts could mislead the reader, especially one living far away from our homeland, into thinking that the worst persecutors of the Lithuanian Catholics are Lithuanian officials, teachers, and others like them. Similarly, Soviet propaganda is trying to convince Lithuanian and world opinion that there is no religious persecution in Lithuania, only occasional and isolated cases of errors committed by individual teachers and officials!
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania tries to be a camera which records the facts as accurately as is humanly possible under Soviet conditions and is convinced that an alert reader will come to the following conclusion: there would be no traitors if there were no one to reward the betrayors.
To find the beginning of the misfortunes which have befallen the Catholic Church of Lithuania, it is necessary to go back to August 23,1939, when Stalin and Hitler divided their spheres of influence and Lithuania was sold to Soviet Russia. As long as Lithuania remains occupied, as long as the faithful have no freedom, there will always be some, who, for a bowl of Essau's lentil soup, will aid the oppressor in persecuting their brothers. The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, therefore, is in full solidarity with the forty-five Baits who have petitioned the United Nations and the signatory nations of the Helsinki Final Act to condemn the shameful Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement and demand that its ramifications be nullified.
After the death of Bishop Juozas Matulaitis-Labukas, Bishop Liudas Povilonis became apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis. Many priests and faithful, having heard the courageous words of Bishop Povilonis's sermons, hoped that upon taking possession of the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Kaunas he would start in the history of the Lithuanian Catholic Church a bright new page and stop the defeatist policy of the Ordinaries.
The Soviet government, which appoints only those Ordinaries who carry out its intentions, placed pressure on Bishop Povilonis and probably threatened to prevent him from assuming his duties as a diocesan shepherd. He, over a period of a few months, made many extremely painful decisions. Among the priests who were elevated to a higher office were KGB collaborators and those who had compromised themselves in the eyes of the faithful, who lacked priestly spirit and were more comfortable sitting at a banquet table than participating in the struggle for the Church's survival.
The appointments have already managed to dissipate the priests' hopes; it is clear to all that they are a capitulation to the KGB and to the Council for Religious Affairs. The Chronicle does not presume to condemn, for it is aware of all the circumstances under which Lithuanian Ordinaries work to govern their dioceses; however, it joins the entire clergy and community of believers in mourning the fact that today Lithuania has no Valancius or Matulionis when again the need for them is so great. Especially since such favorable conditions for gaining the Church at least the minimum rights have not existed before.
Frequently rumors are heard that new bishops will be named in Lithuania. This is understandable since both the Lithuanian clergy and the Holy See wish to normalize the affairs of the Lithuanian Church. The Chronicle is convinced, however, that there is very little hope of achieving this. The Soviet government would not allow the Lithuanian Church to reap any benefit from the appointment of a new bishop, and the faithful would accept only bishops who were not government collaborators and who would not capitulate in the face of danger.
One potential candidate to the bishopric and very acceptable to the Soviet government is the newly appointed Vicar General of the Kaunas Archdiocese and of the Vilkaviškis Diocese, the long-time pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Šiauliai, Father Liudvikas Mazonavičius. His fear of and obedience to the Soviet government are well known throughout Lithuania.
Also acceptable to the Soviet government would be the candidacies of Algis Gutauskas and Juozas Andrikonis, administrators of the Vilnius Archdiocese and of the Kaišiadorys Diocese, and similar priests.
The children of The Land of Mary hope that the Holy Father, who has dedicated half of his heart to Lithuania, when naming new bishops will consider the desires of Lithuania's faithful and appoint strong bishops who will wholeheartedly serve the Church. Long years of experience have shown us that making do with fewer bishops is more desirable than adding unsuitable ones.
On September 5, 1979, the newspaper Tiesa (Truth) carried an ELTA bulletin reporting the official reprimand given two priests — Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius — for spreading fabrications which smeared the Soviet state and its social order.
How could this official and widely publicized admonition be explained? Only an occasional secondary-school Communist Youth League member could be made to believe that these priests would slander someone from the pulpit. Therefore, the answer must be sought somewhere else.
On November 13,1978, the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights was formed in Lithuania. It immediately won the sympathy and support of a majority of the Lithuanian priests. At first the Soviet regime tried to ignore the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights. Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis compared the committee's activity to a gnat's buzzing. When earlier this year 522 priests and two bishops publicly voiced their support for the Catholic Committee, however, the party and the KGB became concerned that their detailed plans, drafted in Russia to destroy the Church from within, might fail simply because they were not capable of forcing a majority of the priests to submit to the atheistic government.
The Soviet government has been greatly disturbed not only by the energetic activity of the clergy but especially of the youth, whom it finds impossible to entice with Communist ideals since their lies and the coercion are obvious to everyone. Although Soviet laws forbid children to serve at mass, to take part in processions, to sing in choirs, or to receive group religious instruction, these laws are being openly ignored throughout Lithuania. Priests are publicly instructing children. In almost every parish children are serving at mass and taking part in processions. Children's church choirs have been formed in many areas.
To keep Lithuanian priests and faithful from becoming too bold, on September 18, 1979, in Astravas, a trial took place because of the religious instruction of children. [Miss] Angelė Ramanauskaitė, a resident of Kaunas, was brought before a Soviet "people's" court and charged with daring "to drag the souls of children into darkness," i.e., to instruct a small group of Byelorussia's Lithuanian children about God. This trial did not intimidate either Ramanauskaitė or its audience. Many were heard to say, "Next year, Angele, ten of us will tome to teach children about God!"
Undoubtedly, the trial in Astravas attained one goal: it tangibly demonstrated the bankruptcy of Marxist ideology. Many became aware that religious believers in Byelorussia were even more oppressed and enslaved than in Lithuania. No one will be able to demonstrate successfully to the participants in the Astravas trial the value of Soviet justice.
"To: The Prosecutor General of the USSR
"From: Citizen Ramanauskaitė, Angelė, daughter of
Mykolas, residing at 29 Pakalnė Street,
Raudondvaris, Kaunas Rayon, the Lithuanian SSR
"On July 17 of this year, I went to visit Lithuanians living in Astravas Rayon in Byelorussia.
"On July 20 I met with the Luksa family. I played Lithuanian games with the children, taught them Lithuanian songs, and read stories. I was discussing amicably a number of things, among them religion, when several teachers from the Girios and Rimdžiūnai schools, accompanied by several intoxicated deputies, Prosecutor Abromovich of AstravasRayon, and several interrogators and policemen entered the house.
"Barging into the room, the interrogators and deputies demanded to see my papers. I did not have them with me. They proceeded then to scold in an angry and insolent manner: 'Why do you come here, and why do you bring Lithuanian books? Why do you collect useless folklore? The Lithuanian language is disappearing in these parts, and it's of no use to the people here. If you want to play with the children or read them Lithuanian books, go to the school and get the principal's permission to work with the children.' The interrogators then started harassing the children at length with threatening questions. Prosecutor Abromovich, cursing the Lithuanians, calling them Nazi degenerates, and banging his fists on the table, demanded that students stop coming here and that they collect their folklore in Lithuania, not in Byelorussia, since they were using the collecting of folklore as a cloak to spread bourgeois nationalism and religious superstition. By evening, after having completed their report, they took me to the Astravas police station to trace my identity and place of residence.
"On July 24 I was summoned by Prosecutor Abromovich, who charged me with the organized religious instruction of children and, even though only single copies of religious literature had been found in my possession, with the distribution of religious literature. During the interrogation he insisted that I reveal who had sent me and the names of the students who had accompanied me on my earlier visits to Lithuanian villages in Byelorussia. After the questioning, he stated that that evening I'd be taken to the Lida Special Reception-Processing Station, where my identity and place of residence would be investigated for one month. I was being held, he declared, for vagrancy.
For eight months the Soviet government silently tolerated the activity of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights; however, it lost its patience when 522 Lithuanian priests and two bishops voiced their support. Two members — Father Alfonsas Svarinskas and Father Sigitas Tamkevičius — were summoned to the Office of the Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR and warned they could be charged for their activities under Article 68, Paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of the Lithuanian SSR. Fr. Alfonsas Svarinskas was warned by Assistant Republican Prosecutor A. Novikov, while Fr. Sigitas Tamkevičius received the warning from Republican Prosecutor Kairelis himself. Both priests refused to sign the admonition and replied to the charges by writing to the Prosecutor's Office of the Lithuanian SSR.
Father Alfonsas Svarinskas's Statement to the Prosecutor
of the Lithuanian SSR
"To: The Prosecutor of the Lithuanian SSR
Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis, Apostolic
Administrator of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis
The Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights.
"From: Father Alfonsas Svarinskas,
Pastor of the Roman Catholic Parish of Viduklė
"On Sunday, September 2 of this year, at about 10 a.m., the Prosecutor's Office of Raseiniai Rayon served me with a summons to appear on September 3 at the Prosecutor's Office of the Lithuanian SSR in Vilnius at 4 Gogol Street, office no. 55.
On April 20,1979, Daugailiai Parish Council Chairman Juozas Tarulis from Mikalajūnai Village died, having almost reached the age of eighty years.
On April 30, 1979, Township Chairwoman A. Stankevičienė telephoned the pastor, Father Petras Baltuška, to ask whether a new parish council chairman had been chosen. She was told "no" but that the question would be resolved soon. She then asked who was the candidate for the chairman's position.
The pastor replied, "I am."
"You cannot be chairman!" exclaimed the startled chairwoman.
"Why?" Fr. Baltuška asked calmly.
"You are a servant of a cult."
"No, I am not. I am a priest. That is considerably more than being the servant of a cult. Please, do not confuse concepts. Are you, as township chairwoman, ever called a servant of the township? Do people say, 'I went to township headquarters but didn't find the township servant'? Does anyone call a doctor a'servant of patients'? Is one who feeds the pigs called a 'servant of pigs'? Do we call the rayon chairman a rayon servant'? No."
Late in the afternoon on August 25, small groups of young people (most of them between fourteen and twenty years of age) began appearing at Tytuvėnai. Their arrival was quiet, without the customary cursing and shoving such gatherings bring. These smiling young people "occupied" every shelter, and gradually, almost imperceptibly, were absorbed, a thousand-strong, by the town. Interestingly enough, the townspeople welcomed them, inconspicuously accommodated them, and showed a quiet solidarity with their intentions. They knew that these young people would not ruin their tools or steal or set fire to their hay sheds or barns. Not one was seen smoking.
Meanwhile, a uniformed official, sensing that something was happening, stood alertly with several plainclothes men in the center of town, looking for unfamiliar automobiles.
The beautiful, recently remodeled Baroque-style church, had been tastefully painted in bright colors with predominantly orange and gold accents that greeted everyone who entered.
During the evening service the mass was sung in Latin by a Latvian choir. The attending young people responded to the prayers clearly and in unison. During Holy Communion the entire congregation rose up and knelt at God's table.
The next morning, long before the earliest mass, the church was already filled. In one, then another part of the church, young voices began hymns which the entire church then sang.
When the services ended, the young people lined up in fours outside the church. They had decided their behavoir on the march would be the same as in church: they would not talk, they would not answer outsiders' questions, they would sing hymns and pray. Many held bouquets of flowers; others clutched rosaries. They had planned this march as an atonement for their own sins, as a sacrifice for the sins of others, as a symbol of the nation's temperance movement, and as a cry for the rebirth of Lithuania's youth.
"To: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian
"Copy to: The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the
"Until now we have not yet received a reply to our joint statement. We are surprised that the highest government agency of the Lithuanian SSR fails to observe the law; Article 47 of the Constitution obliges you to answer to our suggestions and statements.
"We did receive a short note from the Religious Affairs Commissioner. His was merely a standard reply, however. In it he does not acknowledge the suggestions and requests which we listed in our five-point statement. The commissioner did touch on one of our points by saying that at this time he does not anticipate that the Regulations for Religious Associations will be repealed. It is true that on several occasions employees of the Council for Religious Affairs, and on July 20 the commissioner himself, summoned bishops and administrators to Vilnius to tell them that our statements were abstract assertions without facts. The above mentioned Soviet officials were especially displeased with our reference to the frightening campaign of terrorization and degradation being waged against devout children who actively take part in religious services.
"In order to keep our statement as concise as possible, we did not include these concrete facts. We can fill volumes, however, listing concrete cases of children in Lithuania being terrorized to this extent. We are listing here only a few instances of terrorization which occurred in the schools of three rayons last spring:
"In Mažeikiai secondary School no. 3, students were forced to fill out questionnaires asking for the names of religious students in their class and the entire school.
1. On August 8, 1979, Interrogator First Lieutenant Rainys, Major Raudys, and Captain Stankevičius of the security police conducted a search in the Kaunas home of [Miss] Liucija Kulvietytė, residing at 28-8 Kulva St., for the purpose of seizing "anti-Soviet publications, documents, and the technical means of duplicating them." The search lasted five hours, and the following were confiscated:
— A history of the Lithuanian language (printed material)
— Aušrelė (Dawn)
— a sizeable quantity of various articles on which editorial notations and corrections were evident.
* * *
2. On August 8, 1979, Interrogator Matulevičius, Aloyzas Kazlauskas, and Romas Sujeta of the security police conducted a five-hour search in the apartment of [Miss] Vitalija Žvikaitė at 28-2 Kulva St. The following items were confiscated:
— An Optima typewriter
— Volume 4 of the series Lietuvių archyvas (Lithuanian archives)
On October 19,1979, Vladas Lapienis will complete his sentence in a strict regime labor camp and is expected to begin his exile.
In 1979 the Soviet government allowed twenty candidates to enroll in the Kaunas Theological Seminary. All applicants were subjected to an intensive campaign to recruit them into working as KCB agents. The announcement listing the names of those who were being permitted to study at the seminary was released in mid August.
The following were admitted to the seminary: Josif Ashkelovich, Jonas Baltrušaitis, Henrikas Bernotavičiuss, Modestas Čalkūnas, Medardas Čeponis, Antanas Garmus, Gintautas Jankauskas, Sigitas Jurčys, Petras Linkevičius, Juozas Marčiulionis, Lukian Radomskij, Jonas Sabaliauskas, Aurelijus Simonaitis, Jonas Skirelis, Stasys Stankūnas, Remigijus Šulinskas, Bronius Tamelis, Juozas Vertas, Vytautas Žvirgždinas, and Kazimieras Danyla.
The following were barred from the seminary this year by the Council for Religious Affairs and the KGB: Kazys Gražulis (Miroslavas parish), Vytas Kaknevičius (Sangrūda parish), Julius Sasnauskas (St. Michael's parish, Vilnius), Vladas Baliūnas (Pasvalys parish), Gintas Gurkis (Vilkaviškis parish), Algis Šaltis (Kaunas), Saulius Kelpša (Garliava parish), and Aleksandras Hofmann (Vilnius).
N. B. The Chronicle is giving an incomplete list of candidates rejected by the government.
On June 25 [Mrs.] V. Žemaitiene, a teacher at the Prienai Secondary School, gave her student, [Miss] Marytė Kazlauskaitė, a letter of reference which contained the words "Deeply religious." The girl took her documents to the Vilnius School of Commerce (143 Žirmūnai St.). A review board consisting of six members met on July 10. A member of the board picked up her papers and said, "Spend three more years in the church — maybe you'll come to your senses. Then, you can come here and be admitted."
On March 1, 1979, nineteen-year-old Mindaugas Jauniškis, the victim of a tragic death, was buried at the Biliakiemis cemetery. At 11 a.m. all his classmates from the Vilnius Construction Engineering Institute arrived at
the cemetery, as did a large group of his brother's friends (about fifty persons). A local instructor of the institute also participated. The Institute's Assistant Dean [Mrs.] Vida Montvilienė (the former Kazlauskienė), who had come in a private automobile, forbade the students to attend the church services saying, "Do you want to hear old women cackle?" The students carrying the casket brought it as far as the church and did not participate any further; they were taken back to Vilnius. Although they were hungry (they hadn't eaten since early morning), the assistant dean would not allow them to stop at the deceased's parental home, which was on the way and would not have taken much time. As if that weren't enough, Assistant Dean Montvilienė also warned the photographer not to take any pictures of the priest coming out to meet the casket because some of the students might be included in the pictures. The instructor who was present went back to Vilnius with Montvilienė.
On August 25, 1979, the Religious Affairs Commissioner of the Byelorussian SSR on a visit to the church of Lida discovered Fr. Šeniauskas in the sacristy teaching religion to fifteen children. For this the priest was fined 50 rubles.
1. Aušra (Dawn), nos. 16 and 17. The latter is devoted to the fortieth anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
2. Perspektyvos (Perspectives), nos. 11 and 12.
3. Alma Mater, nos. 2 and 3.
4. Rūpintojelis (The pensive Christ), no. 10. The issue is devoted to young people.
5. Vytis (Knight [emblem of the Lithuanian state — Tr.]), nos. 1, 2, and 3. A new nationalistically oriented publication which appeared in the summer of 1979.
6. Ateitis (Future), no. 1. The promotional page states: "Young people! In your hands is Ateitis, a revived publication for Lithuania's youth .... It hopes to lead the youth of Lithuania to that day when Lithuania is free once again."
7. Tiesos kelias (The path of truth), no. 13.
Fellow Lithuanian, Do Not Forget!
Petras Plumpa, [Miss] Nijole Sadūnaite, Sergei Kovalev, Vladas Lapienis, Balys Gajauskas, Viktoras Petkus, Petras Paulaitis, and others are enduring the yoke of bondage in order that you may live and believe in freedom.
* * *
The Prosecutor's Office of the Lithuanian SSR is threatening to 'deal' with the following members of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights: Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, pastor of Kybartai, and Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, pastor of Viduklė.