On January 28, 1980, at the Religious Affairs Council office in Vilnius, bishops and administrators began a routine briefing session. This briefing-debasement was to remind the Ordinaries that they are totally at the mercy of the atheistic government. It is doubtful whether Commissioner Anilionis spoke this strongly to collective farm chairmen when he was first secretary of Kupiškis Rayon.
The briefing was begun by A. Česnavičius, deputy chairman of the LSSR Council of Ministers. His main points are summarized below.
There is concern over certain phenomena in Lithuania such as secret priests (he gave their names) — greedy criminals previously tried for their crimes, ignoramuses. The question arises who ordained them?
Bishop R. Krikščciūnas interrupted by way of explanation: "I certainly did not ordain them; neither did Bishop Povilonis nor Bishop Sladkevičius."
The clergy has extremist sentiments claimed Česnavičius: the carrying of crosses to the Hill of Crosses, holding services under the open sky (Father A. Mocius), the procession to Šiluva (Father K. P. Krikščiukaitis). Both priests will be referred to the Prosecutor's Office.
According to Česnavičius the Catholic Committee terrorizes priests and collects signatures. The committee's document no. 5, which was signed by two bishops and 522 priests, was especially singled out for angry remarks.
Why was it necessary to irritate the people and collect signatures on petitions asking for the return of the Klaipėda church? he asked. The Catholics have a church; let them pray there. The government has no intention of returning the confiscated church.
He insisted the Church must condemn the priests' extremism. It would no longer be tolerated.
In conclusion, Česnavičius remarked that Bishop Povilonis must express himselt more actively; before, he used to hide behind Bishop J. Labukas.
After Česnavičius stepped aside, the Ordinaries were "educated" further by Anilionis.
Bishop Krikščiūnas stated: "The activists have accused us of being Reds. They blackmail us and other priests. I wonder who finances them? Color photographs of the Catholic Committee costing 2 rubles each were distributed free to the crowd."
The commissioner replied: "We know where you get your money. If you do not work, we will confiscate the money!"
Msgr. J. Andrikonis fretted, "How can we work when they immediately run to complain to someone else." (He was probably referring to Bishop V. Sladkevičius — Ed.).
The commissioner's main points are reported below:
Violations of the law such as processions to the Hill of Crosses, to the cemetery on All Souls' Day, and outdoor services will not be tolerated.
The seminary is doing a poor job of training priests. The rector must be given more rights; it is he who should determine a candidate's suitability. (Not a single Ordinary voiced his opposition to the government's intrusion into their jurisdiction — Ed.).
In regard to councils of priests, it does not matter to the government whether they exist or not; but one must be cautious with them, for they want to govern (The Vilnius, priests M. Savickas and M. Petravičius were mentioned).
Priests do not submit information on baptisms, marriages, etc. Certain chanceries pull facts out of the air. The chanceries will be held responsible for this disorder.
A battle must be waged for sobriety. But what are the temperance activists thinking? A letter from the Vilnius priests contains the sentence: "Urge the people to join the nation's spiritual rebirth movement, whose first step is temperance." And what will the second step be, and the third? — this has created some uneasiness.
All bishops must clear their letters with the commissioner. (Here he praised Bishop L. Povilonis). The administrator of Telšiai issued a letter, and it was read over Vatican Radio!
The commissioner especially attacked the rayon of Ukmergė and Father Antanas Danyla, the dean, because he has not completed any agreements with the executive committees. The fact that they themselves had deceitfully concluded these contracts was not mentioned.
Anilionis threatened to show illegal priests on television, but Bishop Krikščiūnas advised against it because after seeing the priests on television the people would flock to them even more.
In conclusion, Commissioner Anilionis noted that the Ordinaries must have more confidence in the Soviet government.