"An Appeal to Lithuania's Ordinaries, Priests, Intellectuals,
and All Our Brothers Living in the Homeland and Abroad
August 15, 1979
"Recently the Catholics of Poland celebrated the 1000th anniversary of Christianity, an event for which they prepared ten years. The anniversary of the death of St. Stanislaus, the bishop-martyr of Cracow, was solemnly celebrated this year. The Holy Father personally visisted Poland for that occasion.
"The Catholics of the Ukraine are preparing to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the establishment of Christinaity in Kiev, Russia, in 1988.
"We Lithuanians are also on the eve of two great anniversaries: 1984 marks the 500th anniversary of St. Casimir's death; 1987 will mark the 600th anniversary of Lithuania's conversion to Christianity. Thus, it is also time for us, the Catholics of Lithuania, to begin preparations to appropriately commemorate these two anniversaries.
"We ask the Ordinaries, the priests, Vatican Radio, and the Lithuanian emigrant press to publicize the blessed activity of the Catholic Church in Lithuania over the past six hundred years. On this occasion, the catechization of children must be strengthened and families must be urged to conduct their lives in a Christian manner and to raise larger families. It is the duty of the priests during retreats, missions, and on other occasions to spiritually prepare the people for these anniversaries.
"Lithuania is suffering from a lack of external freedom, and great harm is being caused by the massively spreading alcoholism. Our country's spiritual rebirth will begin only after the path to this evil has been blocked. The Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights has received many statements from various places in Lithuania; the young are asking for help, and this indicates how vigorously alcoholism, which affects youth and families the most, is spreading. Lithuania's intellectuals attempted to initiate a temperance society this year, but Soviet authorities refused permission for this noble goal. Therefore, there is but one method with which to fight alcoholism: through the Church.
"We ask the Ordinaries, the priests, intellectuals, and our brothers, both here in the homeland and those abroad as well, to fight for the nation's sobriety. Our émigré brothers can perform an invaluable service for us since they have access to so many means of mass communication.
"We propose to make 1980 the Year of Temperance in Lithuania and for Lithuanians abroad.
"With the approach of these major anniversaries, let us appeal to the Soviet authorities to return our confiscated churches: The cathedral of Vilnius, St. Casimir's Church, the Garrison Church in Kaunas, and the Queen of Peace Church in Klaipėda.
"Let us demand that Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius of Vilnius and Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of Kaišiadorys, who have endured twenty years of exile without trial, be permitted to return to their cathedrals.
"Let us support every noble initiative which might in the least bit contribute to our country's spiritual rebirth.
"Witnessing Lithuania's present religious rebirth, we look to the future with hope.
" 'God is our refuge and our strength' (Ps. 54)
Members of the Catholic Committee for
the Defense of Believers' Rights:
Rev. Jonas Kauneckas, Rev. Alfonsas Svarinskas, Rev. Sigitas Tamkevičius, Rev. Vincas Velavičius, Rev. Juozas Zdebskis"
* * *
A Review of the Documents Issued By the Catholic
Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights
No. 21: The document reports on the brutal interference of Soviet officials in the internal matters of religious communities.
No. 22: Requests permission for Viktoras Vasilyev to emigrate to the West.
No. 23: The thirty-fourth session of the U.N. General Assembly is informed of the forced atheistic campaign against Lithuanian children.
No. 24: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party is informed that government agencies are delaying the printing of a catechism and that its eventual edition will be far too small.
No. 25: Protests the arrests of Father Gleb Yakunin, Tatyana Velikanova, and Antanas Terleckas. This document was also signed by the following priests: Fathers K. Daknevičius, E. Semaška, L. Kalinauskas, A. Bulota, J. Indriūnas, E. Bartulis, A. Ylius, J. Vaiceliunas, P. Meilus, V. Pesliakas, S. Pilka, J. Survila, J. Baronas, G. Gudanavičius, V. Ramanauskas, A. Jokūbauskas, F. Baliūnas, A. Mocius, J. Razmantas.
No. 26: Lithuania's Ordinaries and priests are urged not to give atheistic councils data on religious services rendered.
No. 27: Authorities of the Lithuanian SSR are urged to release the detained Julius Sasnauskas and all prisoners of conscience.
No. 28: The Lithuanian SSR Ministry of Education is "Extremist" Priests reminded that religious children are driven from churches during funerals.
No. 29: The Health Protection Minister is informed that most Lithuanian hospitals still prevent seriously ill patients from summoning a priest.
No. 30: The committee voices its solidarity with the academician Andrei Sakharov and asks the Holy Father for moral support for this defender of human rights.
* * *
The March 9, 1980, broadcast of the Vilnius television program "Argumentai" (Arguments) presented Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis and the rector of the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute, Jonas Aničas. The speakers argued that imperialism through the Vatican is instigating religious extremism in Lithuania. Extremist priests slander Soviet reality, urge believers to violate Soviet laws, transmit slanderous information abroad, etc. The "extremists" were named: Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, Father Jonas Kauneckas. The program broadly attacked Father Kauneckas for allegedly slandering decent Soviet persons and instigating hatred.