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 public and widely circulated reprimand of the two members of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, Fathers Svarinskas and Tamkevičius, undoubtedly, had the purpose of paralyzing the committee's activity and of frightening all other Lithuanian priests so that they would not "try to blow against the wind."
What effect has this admonition from the Prosecutor's Office had? The Chronicle has heard not only of the concern of many priests and faithful regarding the fate of these two priests, but also of the determination of many priests to join in the efforts of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights in the event the two would be arrested.