"The Priests Council of the Diocese of Telšiai November 30, 1980 no. 3
"To: The Prosecutor General of the USSR
"For a number of years sinister elements carrying out various types of terrorist activities have been acting against the Lithuanian Catholic Church. We are astounded that the agents of the Lithuanian SSR Ministries of Internal Affairs and Justice have as yet been unable to apprehend the culprits or are simply ignoring the complaints of believers.
"For example, on June 25,1970, the Batakiai church in Tauragė Rayon, built in 1509, was burned down. The individuals responsible for the fire have yet to be found. Believers are under the impression that no one looked for the culprits. Neither the government of the Lithuanian SSR nor of the USSR answered the believers' requests for permission to rebuild the church. The Lithuanian SSR Council of Ministers was petitioned on July 28, 1970, and seven hundred believers appealed to the USSR Council of Ministers on August 17, 1970, but were not given permission to rebuild the church. Rumors began to circulate among the people that the burning of churches was premeditated since exactly one month later in daytime on July 24, 1970, a valuable architectural monument dating from 1773, the Gaure church, was burned down in that same rayon. The arsonists were never found. The believers' petition dated August 14, 1970, for permission to rebuild was never answered by the Lithuanian SSR Council of Ministers, and permission was not granted.
"It is impossible to count all the offenses committed against churches and church people. We will, therefore, only list certain crimes committed in the past three years in the diocese of Telšiai alone:
"1. On August 15, 1977, in Papilė, Akmenė Rayon, an artistic cemetery chapel was burned. The culprits were never found.
"2. On April 11,1977, someone broke into the Mažeikiai church, scattered the Hosts, stole theciboria, keys, etc. The culprits were not captured. On March 10,1979, an offender who broke into the church but did not have enough time to steal anything was apprehended by the believers themselves. He was later tried.
"3. In Gargždai, Klaipėda Rayon, on January 15,1978, the tabernacle was ripped open, the Hosts were scattered and trampled. The church was broken into for the purpose of atheistic desecration because highly valuable material items were not taken. The culprits were not found.
"5. On July 8, 1978, in Telšiai Rayon, the glass of all fourteen Stations of the Cross chapels was smashed in the Pavandenė churchyard and the frame of the chapel bearing the inscription Folk Art Monument, Protected by the State' was broken. The culprits were not captured.
"6. Tauragė, March 20, 1978. After breaking into the church, the culprits were unable to break into the main altar's tabernacle but damaged it, and the side altar tabernacle was broken into. Church vessels were not touched. Two carpets, the donation box, and other valuable items were stolen. The thieves were not apprehended.
"7. After breaking into the Upyna church in Šilalė Rayon on September 12, 1978, criminals took a strong metal tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament. They were not captured.
"8. The Pagėgiai church was burglarized twice: on May 6,1978, and May 30,1978. The thieves were apprehended and convicted (On January 1, 1979, in Šilutė and on February 5,1979, in Viešvilė Technical Trade School no. 9).
"9. On July 26,1977, the Blessed Sacrament was stolen from the Pajūralis church (Šilalė Rayon). The culprits were not apprehended.
"On November 19, 1978, some fifty religious tombstones were destroyed in the cemetery. Monuments without religious symbols were not touched. The police did not apprehend the culprits. Furthermore, crosses have been torn down in this area with the assistance of Soviet agencies for a long time. For example, on May 27,1964, an atheist brigade carried out the premeditated destruction of thirteen folk art monuments. During the destruction, a participant, Alfonsas Antanavičius, was killed.
"On March 7, 1979, decorations were ripped from the altar. The culprit, Kęstutis Ivanauskas (an unemployed secondary-school graduate), was apprehended. As far as the believers know, he was not punished.
"10. In November 1978 several dozen religious monuments were destroyed in the Plunge cemetery. The culprits were not found.
"11. Salantai (Skuodas Rayon). Two donation boxes were ransacked on July 17, 1979. On June 14, 1979, the prayer books were stolen. On August 29, 1980, tabernacle decorations were damaged and the statue of an angel and ten silver candlesticks were stolen. The thieves were not apprehended."12. Seda (Mazeikiai Rayon). On March 29, 1979, the tabernacle was broken into and the Blessed Sacrament was taken. On August 17, 1980, the tabernacle was again burglarized, a ciborium was stolen, and the Hosts were scattered. The culprits were not apprehended.
"13. Varduva (Žemaičių Kalvarija, Plunge Rayon). On April 11, 1979, the metal tabernacle was broken into, the Blessed Sacrament was taken, and traces of the Hosts were scattered in the churchyard and on the ground. This was apparently done for the purpose of desecration because religious vessels and other valuable items were not stolen. On July 9, 1980, twenty votive gifts from the Marian altar and money locked in the sacristy were stolen. The culprits have not been apprehended.
"14. The aftermath of the burglary of the Varputėnai church (Kelmė Rayon) on June 20,1979, was a terrible sight to behold. All the altars had been ravaged and ruined. Three reliquaries and two crosses and other items had been stolen. The culprits had been unable to break into the sacristy, for it had been strengthened after an earlier burglary (one year ago). The culprits of both burglaries were not apprehended.
"15. On September 23, 1979, the Alsėdžiai church (Plunge Rayon) was savagely devastated. Seven tabernacles were broken, the Hosts were scattered, and many valuable sacred articles were stolen. Only St. Casimir's Altar was left untouched. Art objects and donation boxes were not stolen. This was obviously the work of atheists for the purpose of desecration. On that same night a social affair was being held at the cultural center. As is usual after such 'cultural' evenings, the churchyard was filthy, having been used as a public toilet. No culprits were apprehended.
"16. The Blessed Sacrament, church vessels, and crosses were taken from the Gadunavas church (Telšiai Rayon), which was broken into on January 30,1980. Since then, the Blessed Sacrament is no longer kept in the church, and when vandals broke into the tabernacle on August 17, 1980, they found it empty. They have yet to be apprehended.
"17. Culprits broke into the Mosėdis church (Skuodas Rayon) twice. The police refused to take any measures because nothing was stolen.
"18. The Tryškiai church (Telšiai Rayon) was burglarized on May 12,1980. Aciborium, four candlesticks and relics of the Holy Cross were stolen. The culprits were not found.
"19. On September 27, 1980, a dance was held at the House of Culture at Batakiai (Tauragė Rayon). Following the dance, a cross in the churchyard and a statue of St. Roch were demolished. The culprits were found out by the believers themselves.
"20. On October 17, 1980, criminals broke into the Juozapavas church (Šiauliai Rayon) and took church vessels and statues. The thieves were not captured.
"21. The Kuršėnai church (Šiauliai Rayon) was burglarized twice. On April 11, 1977, it obviously was the work of ideologically minded offenders because valuable items were not taken, gold-plated church vessels were not stolen, only the Blessed Sacrament. On October 18, 1980, the Blessed Sacrament was taken from the tabernacle but left with the ciborium on the altar. Sixteen candlesticks were taken. The culprits were not captured.
"22. On October 22, 1980, panes of glass were smashed and the figures of the pensive Christ were stolen from the Varniai churchyard gate (Telšiai Rayon). The culprits were not apprehended.
"23. On March 5,1980, criminals broke into the Lomiai church (Tauragė Rayon), scattered the Hosts, and stole the ciborium. The culprits were not found.
"24. On October 30, 1980, unable to break into the tabernacle of the Tirkšliai church (Mažeikiai Rayon) thieves stole an ornamented cross. The culprits were not apprehended.
"25. On October 9, 1980, the pastor of Luokė (Telšiai Rayon), Father Leonas Šapoka, was brutally murdered. The killers broke into the apartments of the pastor and Juozas Kvietkauskas, who lived at the other end of the house. Kvietkauskas was seriously injured and was hospitalized in Telšiai, while Father Šapoka was sadistically tortured for several hours (all of the soft tissue was battered and damaged, and his spine was broken). The funeral, held on October 13, was attended by a huge crowd of believers and over one hundred priests. There is great outrage at this terrible event. Everyone is wondering how the sadistic murderers were able to do their black deed throughout the night without fear that someone might surprise them. They broke into the pastor's apartment noisily, kicking in the door with such force that the frame shattered. The cries of the victims also were loud. Yet the criminals were not afraid of the noise. While drinking cognac they tortured the priest for several hours. No priest was allowed to view the murdered priest's body at the scene of the crime, not even Diocesan Administrator Father Antanas Vaičius. We have reason to fear that once again the officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs will not want to capture the sadistic murderers or will not find any Criminal Code article applicable to them. This belief is supported by the fact that the officials did not ask about the crime when interrogating people but about the murdered pastor's faults. They are spreading rumors that Father Šapoka was not murdered but died of fright in his old age.
"Several years ago crosses and roadside shrines throughout Lithuania were systematically destroyed by atheists. A great deal of artistic folk architecture was destroyed. Now the work of destroying crosses in the Lithuanian SSR is even being carried out by official Soviet organs. For example, an old monument, a cross which is listed among the monuments protected by the state (no. V-187), stands at the gravesite of Msgr. Dr. Kalikstas Kosakauskas. The Executive Committee of the Akmenė Soviet of People's Deputies decided to remove this cross and ordered a new monument, having nothing to do with religion, constructed. This is a desecration of the grave of a priest who was a member of the Samogitia Diocesan Chapter and a long-time pastor of Akmenė. Despite believers' protests, the cross was removed and the new monument is being completed. Even the Ministry of Culture is powerless to do anything. Soviet Lithuanian SSR officials are encouraging ideological hooliganism against the Church and sacred objects through such actions.
"We also take this opportunity to recall the case of the Klaipėda church. In 1956 during the era of former USSR Premier Nikita Khrushchev an official permit was granted to build the church, and all Lithuanian believers built the church with their own funds and labor. Just prior to its consecration, on August 15, 1960, the church was confiscated and in 1961 converted into a philharmonic hall. This wrong was detailed by over three thousand believers in a written statement in 1961; by 10,241 believers in a written statement dated March 6, 1979; by 148,149 believers in a written statement dated November 19,1979; and by 610 believers in an April 1, 1980, letter of inquiry. The Soviet government did not respond to the mass complaints and requests of the workers-religious believers. The injury was done not only to the believers of Klaipėda but to all of Lithuania as well.
"Therefore, we appeal directly to you, the Prosecutor General of the USSR, asking you to intervene personally and name a commission to thoroughly investigate the crimes committed against the Lithuanian Catholic Church. We ask that the culprits be found and punished with the full force of the law and that this reign of terror be ended. We ask that Lithuanian SSR officials responsible for the public order be prosecuted for derelicition of duty since their obvious indifference and the wrongs done believers indirectly encourage criminals to commit terrible crimes.
Priest-members of the Telšiai Priests Council:
Rev. Julius Budrikis, Rev. Jonas Gedvila, Rev. Jonas Karneckas, Rev. Alfonsas Lukosevičius,
Rev. Adomas Mileris, Rev. Tadas Poška, Rev.
Adolfas Pudžemys, Rev. Petras Puzaras, Rev. Vincentas Senkus, Rev. Antanas Šeškevičius, Rev.
Bernardas Talaišis, Rev. Antanas Vėlavičius"