"To: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party
The Vaga publishing firm in Vilnius
The editorial staff of Tiesa (Truth)
The editorial staff of Komjaunimo tiesa (Truth of the Communist Youth)
"With this document I would like to draw the attention of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party to an abnormal, distressing, and damaging fact, that is, to the hooliganism being disseminated by the Soviet press. It is not only blows that cause injury; even more harmful are deceitful accusations, fabrications, and slander. A hooligan is not only someone who attacks and assaults an innocent person, not only someone who spits in one's face and spatters mud on one's clothes. A hooligan is also he who slanders a person, charging him with all kinds of nonexistent, invented offenses which besmirch his decent name.
"The booklet Be iliuzijų (Without illusions) by Bronius Jauniškis, published by the Vaga publishing firm, is full of such hooliganism. The author hurls the vilest accusations with fraudulent insolence against completely innocent persons.
"I will write here about people I know well and events I am familiar with which were crudely libeled and distorted by Jauniškis, especially in the section entitled Užgesinta šviesa (Extinguished light).
"Every year since 1925 the Jesuits of Kaunas provided free room and board in their dormitory and education in their high school for a number of indigent young boys. Priority was given to those who expressed the desire to later enter the monastery. If they did not enter the monastery upon graduation, they were encouraged to provide reimbursement for the room and board and education as soon as they were able to do so in order that others might have this opportunity. No one was issued a deadline, and no one was ever forced or sued to repay. There was not one case in which this matter was brought before a court.
"In 1926 Juozas Misiūnas, having completed four years of secondary education, came to the Kaunas Jesuit high school and expressed the desire to continue his studies and later enter the monastery. He was accepted and housed and educated for four years at the monastery's expense. He completed high school in 1930 and in the fall entered the Pagryžuvis Jesuit novitiate. When after two years the novices made their vows and were to leave for Holland to study philosophy, Misiūnas felt unprepared and showed no desire to do so. His superiors, aware of the great demands of such studies, were afraid that Misiūnas, who was of weak health and rather average ability, would be unable to keep up with the work. He might quickly overtax himself and fall ill. Therefore, they decided to allow him to prepare for one more year, to learn foreign languages and gain physical strength. With this goal in mind, they sent him not to Valkenburg, Holland, but to Mitelstein (Silesia). Even after this year, however, Misiūnas was just as weak and uncertain in his studies. (He was not ill; the doctors could not find anything wrong with him). He was then sent to Kaunas for the 1933-34 academic year, where he was prefect of the younger students at the Kaunas Jesuit dormitory. That year I taught at the high school and studied at the university. I met with Misiūnas almost daily. He found it difficult to maintain discipline and order. Finally, in the summer of 1934, Misiūnas admitted that he had not wanted to enter the monastery after graduation but had enrolled only because he felt obligated to do so because he had received free room and board and an education for four years. He was then told: 'You're in the wrong place. Why didn't you say so four years ago? No one is driven into the monastery by force, and vows made under duress are invalid.' Released from his vows, Misiūnas, I heard, left and studied linguistics for a time, I believe, at the university and later taught.
"What did Jauniškis make of all of this? Unfamiliar with monastery life and unconcerned with the truth, he gave free rein to his imagination, which he called 'intuition' in the book's preface. He alleges that Misiūnas was subjected to various forms of torment and torture at the monastery, even to the loss of consciousness. That while in Holland he did not speak out against or criticize the Free Thinker Minauris and as a result was stripped, tied to a post, and savagely whipped to the point of unconsciousness. This resulted in his going blind, and he was, therefore, returned to Lithuania where Rector Kipas expelled him from the monastery as being unsuited for work (pp. 71-72).
"All of this is a most blatant lie and libelous. No one is whipped or tortured in monasteries. I personally spent twenty-four years in the monastery (until the monasteries were closed — Ed.), ten of them in Western Europe (Jesuit monasteries in Germany, Holland, Belgium, and France). For nearly seven years (1942-49) I was in charge of the Pagryžuvis and Šiauliai Jesuit monasteries, and I, therefore, have the right to state that I am very familiar with the lifestyle and spirit of Jesuit monasteries, but I have never, anywhere, heard of any whippings or torture. The monastic spirit and system is diametrically opposed to such things. Furthermore, there are many men who lived in Jesuit monasteries for either short or long periods of time now living in Lithuania. Has any one of them ever heard of someone being tied to a post and whipped?
"Let us focus on Jauniškis's false allegations (practically every page contains such false allegations, sometimes even several per page. On page 21 alone I counted more than forty).
"Jauniškis claims that Misiūnas returned from Holland to Kaunas wearing thick glasses. There Kipas berated him and urged him to petition for his release from the monastery.
"Misiūnas has never been in Holland. It is odd that Jauniškis does not know that Silesia is not in Holland but in Poland (this indicates his level of education) and that until World War II western Silesia belonged to Germany and this is where Mitelstein, where Misiūnas spent one year, is located.
"Misiūnas returned from Silesia to Kaunas with good eyesight and did not need glasses. There are never any obstacles to obtaining glasses. They are given to anyone who needs them. While a student, I changed my glasses four times, and no one made the slightest reproach nor showed any displeasure.
"Misiūnas did not ruin his health at the monastery and, therefore, was not unsuited for work. On his return from Silesia, he was in charge of one section of the dormitory for a year, and after he left, he was able to study and teach.
"There are no punishment cells in monasteries and no one is threatened with them, as Jauniškis claims ('You'll rot
in the punishment cell,' p 27). Anyone who does not want to be a religious can always leave. Unsuitable candidates are released, exactly as is done everywhere else. Even under the Communist system, people are dismissed from work, school, the party, and no one considers this an offense. Therefore, why cannot a man who came to the monastery by mistake — an unsuitable member — be let go?
"Jauniškis claims that all Misiūnas's superiors were former officers of the Kaiser in Germany. In actual fact, not a single one of them ever attended a military academy or held a weapon in his hands and, therefore, was never an officer. When World War I began, the clergy as well as laymen were drafted. Priests were assigned to chaplaincy service. Their duties were to hold services for Catholics, to administer the sacraments, to visit the wounded and the sick, to help soldiers maintain contact with their families, and to bury the dead. Seminarians worked only as orderlies in military field hospitals. I have often leafed through two large albums full of photographs from the Seventy-second Military Field Hospital where the German Jesuit seminarians served
"Jauniškis, being an atheist, does not believe in miracles. Yet, on pages 67-69 he created a major miracle: Misiūnas, having recently arrived in Holland, although he has not studied the Dutch language, speaks freely with the local Dutch inhabitants. He easily understands the atheistic speech of the Dutchman Minauris and feels the obligation to criticize him but is hesitant because he fears that 'he will be unable to speak with enough conviction' (p. 69). So Misiūnas, who had difficulty in learning foreign languages, suddenly receives the 'gift of tongues' and speaks fluent Dutch without having studied the language.
"The rest of the chapters are as full of distortions and lies as the section 'The Extinguished Light.' But when one reads the sections entitled 'Mokslo beieškant' (In search of knowledge) and 'Elgetaujant'(Begging), it appears that they do not contain even five percent of the truth. From the beginning to the end, they are full of fantasies and lies. It is not only Bronius Jauniškis who lies, but he also makes a liar out of his father.
"He writes: 'My father liked to say that monks are true exploiters and parasites. It is disgusting to see how they walk around the villages jobless, fingering their rosaries and luring the last pennies from the poor in God's name (page 127). Long ago when I travelled as a tailor through various villages I used to meet them. I performed decent work while they begged — young, healthy, fumbling with their rosaries and opening their alms bags. It was shameful.'
"Such are the words Bronius Jauniškis puts in his father's mouth. It is truly shameful that he is degrading his father publicly. When did Jauniškis's father see these begging monks? When did he work as an itinerant tailor? Bronius Jauniškis was born in 1920, and his father probably worked as a tailor before having a family, that is, before 1920. But at that time in Lithuania there were barely a couple of older Franciscans in Kretinga and several Marian Fathers, but they had more than enough work in the churches, and none of them begged. Therefore, Jauniškis's father could not have come across any begging religious. As for the young men who went around 'opening their alms bags,' there weren't any then, or later. No one went from Saldutiškis to beg, neither Jauniškis nor anyone else. Jauniškis was never a religious as he himself admits but only lived temporarily in a religious community until the Salesians became convinced that he was not meant for the monastery and politely asked him to leave.
"There is no luxury in monasteries, no carpets or other decorations. Everyone eats the same food. This was also true in Saldutiškis. Here is an excerpt from a letter from Father Bronius Bulika in Saldutiškis: 'Yes, I was born in the Saldutiškis parish, served at mass as a child, attended church during the summer holidays while in high school, and was very close to Father Gustas while studying at the seminary . . .. Saldutiškis was an affiliate of the Salesian house. There were two priests, Fathers Gustas and Žemaitis, and several brothers. We all shared the same food at a common table. Everyone had the same, without exception. Everyone together. Gustas's room was very modest. A plain table and a metal bed, a large shelf with books, a washstand, and two simple chairs for visitors. There wasn't even a sofa. No one at Saldutiškis ever begged, collected donations, or asked for legacies. The parish was new, and the people were generous. I remember that on St. Anthony's altar there was always some cheese, butter, or eggs. People brought these things themselves without being asked.' (January 21, 1980).
"Father J. Žemaitis wrote (the letter was written on January 23, 1980): 'I see no reason to explain Bronius Jauniškis's alleged 'begging' in Saldutiškis. It seems to me that it is he who is now begging.'
"In Saldutiškis Jauniškis had to write a dictation to prove his suitability for one of the high school classes. When it was corrected, Jauniškis exclaimed: 'O Lord, my notebook is abloom with red slashes. Brother Stasys has graded it with a curvacious "2" [D]' (p. 51). At the time Jauniškis lacked writing skills; now he lacks a sense of justice. A bankrupt conscience is a person's worst misfortune. If we were to grade Jauniškis's writings today and were to search for the turth in them, they would contain no fewer red marks, and a 'D' would be too high a grade for them. And this is the type of garbage being fed to young people!
"[Mrs.] Danguolė Repšienė, a propaganda department employee of the daily Tiesa (Truth) is following in Jauniškis's footsteps. She says his Be iliuzijų is 'the truth about religion' (Tiesa, December 21, 1979), when it actually contains only lies and libel about religion. Several years ago she wrote and published in Tiesa an article, 'Inkvizicija smutkelių šalyje' (Inquisition in the land of wayside shrines of Christ), in which she extols Valašinas. She claims that he was given a one month's suspended sentence for atheism. In fact, he was not convicted for atheism but, in today's terminology, of hooliganism. Even today, insulting the party or the Communist Youth League is punishable, but with considerably stricter sentences. For example, Vytautas Žemaitis (living at 10-2 Ševčenko St.), a mechanic at a Vilnius factory, made fun of the Communist party and the Communist Youth League after a few drinks during the 1962 October celebrations at his wife's birthplace in Sidabravas. This was considered hooliganism, and Žemaitis was arrested at the end of 1962 and sentenced to two years in prison. He served his sentence in one of the horrible Klaipėda camps. Therefore, if Valašinas's one month's suspended sentence was an Inquisition, then what should Žemaitis's loss of freedom for two years be called? In this instance should we not recall Christ's words regarding hypocrites who see the speck in their neighbor's eye but fail to see the beam in their own?
"It is amazing that responsible individuals at the Vaga publishing firm could have printed Jauniškis's slander without verifying the facts. How could the members of the Ave Vita Club (Balkevičius, P. Mišutis, A. Juška, R. Tidikis, and others — Tiesa, December 21,1979) review it favorably and recommend it to young people? This is deceiving, tricking, and misleading youth. Since when are lies and libel recommended? How could Vladas Balkevičius call Jauniškis a'propagandist of atheistic truth'? (Komjaunimo Tiesa [Truth of the Communist Youth], March 18,1980). Surely such base lying and libel is not atheistic truth?
"This type of libelous writing not only compromises its authors but the censors, the press, and finally even those who are ultimately responsible for it, the party itself. That is why serious Soviet activists and scholars demand that lies and slander be avoided in the fight against religion. Lenin himself once said: 'How filthy must be the sources of these who turn the ideological battle into the spreading of slander.'
"The Soviet academician S. D. Skazhkin wrote: 'After the Great War the non-Marxist view that religion is deception (often conscious) and believers (with rare exceptions) are ignorant people became quite prevalent. That led to the conclusion that special intellectual efforts are unnecessary in seeking profound and accurate intellectual arguments when criticizing religion. This did a disservice to atheism; it backfired. Superficiality in considering fundamental religious problems, triteness and intellectual poverty in the arguments against them, ignorance of life and of believers are typical characteristics of the literature which views religion (especially Christianity) as foolishness. It would be naive to expect this criticism to attain the present scientific level and the demands of society.' (Nauka i religija [The nation and religion], 1966, no. 2).
"P. Mišutis, a representative of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party, once required this also (February 16, 1963): 'The most important principle of the Soviet press is to print only the truth .... The party severely condemns those journalists who follow the onceprevalent rule: if 5 percent is true you can print it in a newspaper. There is no such thing as 5-percent truth, only 100-percent truth.'
"There are Communist states where the fight against religion is conducted in a cultured way. Blatant lies and slander are not used in polemics, atheism is not imposed by force, children are not coerced, the youth is not harmed. That is the situation in the German Democratic Republic, Yugoslavia, and Hungary.
"Since such moral hooliganis m is contrary to the official party line, I hope that not only will such 'works' not be published in the future, but also that all outlines, articles, and books by Jauniškis and authors like him will be withdrawn from book stores and libraries and will no longer be permitted to dupe and poison our youth.
Bijutiškis, Molėtai Rayon September 10, 1980 Father Jonas Danyla"
"To: The Vaga Publishing Firm in Vilnius
"Copy to: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party
"A Reply to a Reply (abridged — Ed.)
"On November 6, 1980, at the Dubingiai Township Headquarters in the presence of Vice Chairwoman Gančerienė of Molėtai Rayon; [Mrs.] Antanavičienė, a journalist for the newspaper Pirmyn (Forward); and Chairman Tursa of Dubingiai Township, the director of the Youth section of the Publicity Department of the Vaga publishing firm in Vilnius responded to my complaint sent on September 10, 1980, to the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party regarding B. Jauniškis's libelous book Be iliuzijų (Without illusions) published by Vaga in 1979. A copy of the complaint was also forwarded to the publishers.
"Of all the charges I listed in my complaint, the representative from Vaga considered only one to be justified, that Silesia is not in Holland but in Poland. He claimed this was a'minor error; mere oversight.'
"The spokesman for Vaga attempted to refute my second assertion, namely, that Misiūnas returned to Kaunas with healthy eyes by stating that he (Misiūnas) complained of weakened eyesight.
"Misiūnas would have received glasses had he needed them. Finally, if his eyesight had worsened somewhat, can this be considered to be a tragedy? We find many students in secondary schools wearing glasses, and no one considers them deprived or injured. But, Jauniškis wrote something entirely different; he claimed that Misiūnas went blind and returned to Kaunas wearing thick eyeglasses, while, in fact, he had no glasses either thick or thin. He had no need of them whatsoever.
"The spokesman attempted to deny my third assertion as well, that Misiūnas did not lose his health in the monastery, that he was not unsuited for work, and that Kipas did not dismiss him immediately.
"When Misiūnas returned from Silesia in 1933, he was the director, the prefect, of a section of the students' dormitory for one full year. A person who has lost his health could not have worked at such a job.
"The representative from Vaga claimed that Misiūnas's health had been damaged, and he had become more nervous. Yet how many people nowadays are considerably more nervous than Misiūnas was then and still often work in very responsible positions which cannot be held by persons who have lost their health? During 1933-34 I met Misiūnas almost daily and never noticed him to be excessively nervous. He himself never complained of it.
"In my complaint I stated that monasteries have no punishment cells and no one is threatened with them as Jauniškis claims. The spokesman refused to accept this although he could not prove the existence of punishment cells. He merely stated that someone had said that there had been such a cell at the Sacred Heart Convent in Antalieptė and that someone had even seen bars.
"My response was that bars exist not only in prisons but in storerooms as well. Throughout my religious life I have never heard of a punishment cell existing in any monastery. And why would one be necessary? Anyone who does not wish to be a religious can always leave. If you don't believe me ask Juozas Stankaitis or Kazys Urbonas (well known Lithuanian atheists who were once religious novices — Ed.). Let them show where those punishment cells existed in Pagryžuvys or Kaunas.
"The Vaga spokesman stubbornly insisted that Kipas and Biogneris were once officers of Kaiser Wilhelm's Germany and that Kipas was also a Nazi agent.
"What is an officer? In the Standard Lithuanian Language Dictionary [in Lithuanian] we find the following definition: '1. a member of the commanding staff of the army or navy. 2. a military man, a soldier.' Such people must complete a military academy or something similar. They command military units and lead them into battle. But what was Kipas? He was a chaplain. Doctors and chaplains are given military rank as commissioned officers (major, colonel) but only the rank, without the rights or duties of officers. They are not allowed to command military units, for they lack the training. Doctors heal the sick and wounded, while chaplains hold services for Catholic soldiers, administer the sacraments, visit the sick, and bury the dead. Kipas was a chaplain with an officer's rank, but he never received any military training. He was born on November 4, 1884. He graduated from high school at the age of eighteen and one-half years and entered the Jesuit novitiate on April 23,1903. Two years later he began his philosophy studies (1905-1908). In 1908 he left for the missions in India and was a high school teacher in Bombay. When he returned in 1912, he studied theology and was ordained a priest at the beginning of 1915. On February 12 he was drafted and appointed a military chaplain. After the war he continued his theological studies and then worked in Essen for a time.
On July 20,1923, he came to Lithuania. When could he have received military training? And without the training how could he have been an officer?
"Biogneris did not hold an officer's rank. Born in 1893, he graduated from high school in the spring of 1913 and immediately entered the Jesuit novitiate. He was mobilized at the beginning of the war and worked as an orderly at the Seventy-second Military Field Hospital with the other seminarians. When the war ended, he completed the novitiate, studied philosophy and theology, and came to Lithuania in 1928. Therefore, he did not attend any military academy and held no military rank.
"The assertion that Kipas was a Nazi agent is also an error. It is as ridiculous as if someone had claimed he was a Communist agent. The National Socialists (Nazis) were atheists. They were strictly forbidden to belong to any religious community. They not only restricted the Church but also persecuted it by every possible means. They nationalized all Catholic private schools, hospitals, orphanages, nursing homes, and kindergartens. They gradually eliminated all religious publications. They arrested and placed many thousands of clergymen into concentration camps and murdered over four thousand priests and religious. In Dachau alone over eleven hundred priests were murdered; it is the world's largest graveyard of priests. The Nazi press continually ridiculed and discriminated against believers, especially Catholics and their leader, the pope. They closed all religious organizations. Seeing all this, Pope Pius XI in 1936 continually stressed that the greatest enemy of the Catholic Church was not Bolshevism but National Socialism. One Sunday in March 1937 in all German Catholic churches a stern letter was read from the pope entitled 'Mit brennendee Sorge' (With burning concern), which severely condemned the philosophy and tactics of the National Socialists (The Lithuanian translation of this letter was published in the June 1937 issue of Tiesos kelias (The path of truth). Following that, a course criticizing and condemning the anti-Christian and anti-religious philosophy and tactics of the Nazis was instituted in all Catholic seminaries (In Lithuania a series of articles by Bishop Mečislovas Reinys was published on this question in Tiesos kelias).
"When Hitler visited Rome in April 1938, Pope Pius XI ordered that all the Vatican museums be closed. He said, 'I don't want people with swastikas walking around in Vatican City.' When the World Eucharistic Congress was held a month later in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, Hitler retaliated by closing the Reich's borders with Hungary for the duration of the Congress, and no one from Germany or Austria was able to attend.
"The Nazi press (various 'Beobachters') often printed caricatures of the pope and allegations that the Vatican is working with the Kremlin against National Socialist Germany.' (Now the Communists are claiming that the Vatican joined forces with the Nazis against Bolshevism. In fact, the Vatican joined forces with neither, for their atheistic philosophies are incompatible with Christianity.)
"At the start of the Nazi rule in 1935, before all of the religious press had been wiped out, the Jesuit Ludwig Koch harshly criticized one of the major works of Nazi philosophy: Alfred Rosenberg's Myth of the 20th Century (Der My thus des 20. Jahrhunderts). Rosenberg called Christianity 'the myth.' These and other facts, for example, the annihilation of the Jews, the murder of the incurably ill and the mentally ill, plainly indicates to all clear-thinking persons the complete incompatibility of the Catholic church with Nazi philosophy.
"The Soviet school system and the press are silent regarding this, and the opposite is often taught — that the Nazis were religious and joined forces with the pope against Bolshevism.
"At this point Vice Chairwoman [Mrs.] Gančerienė of Molėtai Rayon recalled the belt buckles worn by German soldiers with the inscription "God mit uns" (God with us) as proof that the Nazis were believers. Actually it was quite the opposite. Quickly preparing for war, the Nazis attempted to save materials, manpower, and time and, therefore, did not redesign the old Kaiser buckles, for that would have required spending several million marks and needed the efforts of a great many people resulting in the loss of time. In addition, they did not want to set believers against them even more (just as in 1942 the Bolsheviks, in the hope of attracting believers, reopened the closed Russian Orthodox churches and released nearly all Russian Orthodox priests from labor camps). But the new belt buckles were quite different; a swastika replaced the old inscription.
"Another fact: after the Germans occupied Lithuania in 1941, Kipas wanted to come to Kaunas but could not obtain permission to do so. The reason was: 'While living in Lithuania for seventeen years and being influential among the intelligentsia, he did not use his influence in behalf of Germany.' Later, because he helped a Lithuanian refugee in Berlin who was later accused of being a Soviet spy, Kipas spent several months in jail.
"At the end of 1941 Hitler himself (as former German ambassador to Moscow Schulenburg testified at the Nuremberg trial) threateningly stated about the Catholic Church: '111 trample that toad after the war.'
"In conclusion: to consider a deeply believing, religious priest like Kipas a Nazi agent is a totally ridiculous thought originating either from ignorance or ill will.
"In response to my claim that no one is beaten or tortured in monasteries, the Vaga spokesman read a letter from Misiūnas in which he wrote that he used to flagellate himself and wear an iron chain whose sharp ends pierced his skin. This caused him to bleed, which seriously affected his health.
"My response: Jesuits are forbidden any form of penitence which affects their health, especially any which produces bleeding. No superior would allow such harmful penances. If, in actual fact, Misiūnas did make use of such penances, he severely violated the order's regulations. At the end of 1926 a Lithuanian classmate of mine was expelled merely for practicing forms of penance which, in the elders' opinion, were detrimental to his health. Therefore, if Misiūnas did what was forbidden, he has no one to blame but himself.
"Elsewhere Misiūnas greatly exaggerates when he states that he had to 'crawl, to kiss feet, regardless of whether the shoes were dirty or even covered with manure.' Even the Vaga spokesman remarked that his cannot be true, for no one would allow manure-covered shoes into a dining room. That is the actual truth, and no one went into the scrupulously clean dining room wearing dirty shoes or clothes.
"At this point, the rayon newspaper correspondent, [Mrs.] Antanavičienė, lamented, 'How degrading for a person; how the man had to suffer.'
"All these humiliations are only a drop in the bucket compared to what our fellow countrymen suffered when without a trial, in nailed-shut freight cars they were taken off to the Siberian taiga or the Kazakhstan steppe, where most of them met death by starvation. Cases were fabricated against others, and they were shut up in labor camps and had to perform forced labor while starving. In Molėtai a grand monument has been erected to Putna. He was not murdered by enemies but by friends whom he defended and served. Perhaps you'll say 'That's in the past.' But what of the present?
"How much do people endure when they are forced to criticize themselves in public, when they are ridiculed in satirical columns, caricatured in satirical publications like Šluota (Broom) or Krokodil? How much have a great many priests and laymen had to suffer because they explained the truths of the faith to children? As recently as 1970 Father Antanas Šeškevičius was tried in Molėtai for two days as a major criminal and children terrorized right in the courtroom wept while others even became physically ill. In schools believing children are forced to write compositions degrading priests and to recite anti-religious poems; for example, the tenth grade of the Alanta Secondary School was given as a homework assignment to write an essay on the topic 'How do priests keep their decalogue: the Ten Commandments?' with the instructions to write only about bad priests. (This is clearly damaging to students, for it forces them to write on something other than the assigned topic. If they are to write only about bad priests, then the topic should read 'How do bad priests keep the Ten Commandments?') When the students asked where they should get their information, the teacher replied, 'Make it up.' I heard all of this myself from Alanta students during a March 1965 retreat. Such fabrications are very often heard on the program 'Akiratis' (Horizon) especially in [Mrs.] Fatima Butienė's reports and in anti-religious articles. B. Jauniškis's booklets are also full of such 'fantasies.'
"What would you say if the assigned topic were 'How Communists Keep Their Constitution' and the instructions were to write only about bad Communists and make up the information? You would probably be displeased and would demand that such things be retracted and such writings be withdrawn from book stores and libraries. We, however, must be content to have slander spread about us and nonexistent things invented about us and when monasteries are depicted as zoos. People with healthy minds undimmed by fanaticism know that no one would join such'zoos,' and if someone were to enter through error or ignorance, he would waste no time getting out as quickly as possible.
"The Vaga spokesman also unsuccessfully attempted to prove that monks begged for alms. 'Someone, somewhere around Daugailiai, said,'he stated/that monks used to beg.' But there was no monastery in the vicinity of Daugailiai. The nearest religious house for men was over 40 kilometers away in Saldutiškis. Too, what could they have managed to beg? Some food, clothing, perhaps, but how much can a man carry 40 kilometers?
"Here I would like to ask the spokesman, Were those 'begging monks' truly monks? Perhaps they were impostors, such as exist in all areas even today? Here are some examples.
"Over ten years ago a Tiesa (Truth) reporter was tried. He had visited the wealthier pastors and, presenting a Tiesa identification card bearing his name, claimed he was assigned to write an article on priests and that the spiritual authorities would take into account what was written. After some conversation, the reporter dared to ask for a loan of several hundred rubles with the unstated understanding that the article on the pastor would then be more favorable. Some did lend him the money (for at the time you could write whatever you wanted about priests without fear of punishment). Finally, the 'reporter' was arrested in Kaunas and prosecuted.
"During the winter of 1961, a man from the State press went around the Jieznas, Stakliškės, and other parishes collecting subscriptions for supposedly about-to-be-published prayer books. The small format was to cost 10 rubles, the larger 25 (old currency). He was finally arrested in Žiežmariai.
"Somewhat earlier, I heard in Jieznas a story about inspectors who arrived unexpectedly at a restaurant. The startled employees very graciously entertained the 'dear guests' with the hope that they would find fewer shortages. The following day it became apparent that they were not real inspectors.
"So there have been false Tiesa reporters, false subscription collectors from the State press, false inspectors. Were there not also false monks who collected donations for monasteries? Yes, there were. Father Kidykas, former dormitory director of the Kaunas Jesuit high school in 1928, related how in the winter of that year, a young man in a soutane came to the Utena rectory one evening and claimed he was from the Kaunas Jesuit high school and was collecting donations. The behavior of the young man and his ill-fitting soutane made the pastor suspicious. He left the guest with the assistant pastor, went into another room, and telephoned Father Kipas in Kaunas. Upon learning that no one, either that day or earlier, had been sent to collect donations, the pastor summoned the police, who arrested the imposer. It turned out that the young man had come to Kaunas some time earlier and had stopped in at the Jesuits claiming he wanted to enter the monastery. After working for a time cleaning the yard, one day the said candidate took the soutane of a fellow religious and went out to collect donations, but not for the religious — for himself. Who can guarantee that he was the only one and that the Utena rectory was the only place he visited? Therefore, only such false 'begging monks' existed in prewar Lithuania, and no one ever heard of any true monks begging. 'Begging monks' are Jauniškis's invention. He is obviously lying when he writes that he himself was sent to beg in Saldutiškis. Jauniškis was never a religious and lived at the religious house as a candidate for only a short time until the Salesians became convinced of his unsuitability and politely asked him to leave. He confirms this himself in his booklet. If the religious had begged in such massive numbers as Jauniškis claims, then even the Vaga spokesman would not have to rely on rumors, on 'someone,' 'somewhere' allegedly having said something. Today there would still be a great number of living witnesses who would have seen this and known about it. Not even the people living closest to Saldutiskis know anything about this or, to be more accurate, they know very well that such things did not exist, that 'begging monks' are the fantasies of an individual of low morals and an expression of his blind hatred of the religious.
"The Vaga spokesman attempted to refute my assertion that no one is forced to enter the monastery against his will and that vows made under duress are invalid. He argued that after Misiūnas had completed the seventh year at the high school level he was summoned by Father Kipas and asked whether he still wanted to enter the religious life, and if he had said he no longer desired to do so, he would not have been allowed to continue to study at the high school. It's possible that Misiūnas thought this, but I know of no case in which any student was expelled from the high school simply because he could not pay for his education. Even if it had been as Misiūnas thought, can this be considered coercion? Would Misiūnas have been unable to lead a decent life? Since he had completed the seven years, he could have taught in a grade school.
"Concluding, the Vaga spokesman arrived at the deduction that Jauniškis accurately portrayed the persons he wrote about.
"This assertion could not be further from the truth, for it is totally contrary to reality, to the facts. Religious houses were not zoos, and they contained not a trace of the NKVD-type terror that Jauniškis fabricated with great relish. If there had been any truth to it at all, then the majority of former members of religious communities (forcibly closed by the Soviets — Tr.) would not be missing community life and would not consider the time spent there as the best years of their lives.
"There arises, therefore, the unwelcome question of why such libel, written by Jauniškis and other atheists, is necessary and what is its purpose? Is this not an attempt to justify past offenses when, in 1940 and later in 1948-49, all religious houses were barbarously wiped out, when even personal property of the religious brought to the community was confiscated, when many artistic works and libraries were destroyed, magnificent organs were ripped out, and when the religious themselves, both men and women, were placed outside the protection of the law. For a long time they were unable to obtain decent work if they refused to renounce the religious life. Thus, they were forced to conceal their beliefs, and many suffered real hardship and undeserved scorn. Others had court cases fabricated against them and were sentenced to labor camps for ten or twenty-five years.
"Now, instead of correcting these past offenses, new ones are committed by slandering and slurring the religious in the hope that the younger generation would be convinced and lose respect for those whom their parents and grandparents honored.
"During the last decade severe sentences were imposed upon a great number of people charged with slandering and distorting Soviet reality. But rich fees are paid and letters of commendation are written to those distorting and slandering religious reality. We observe what is happening and cannot understand how such things can be reconciled with the equality of all citizens and the freedom of conscience proclaimed by the Constitution! For such freedom is only freedom for a certain group, and freedom only for a certain group is not freedom. True freedom entails freedom for those who think differently as well. These words are not only my own; they were said much earlier by the classical German Communist writer, Rosa Luxemburg.
"Finally, the Vaga spokesman admitted that my first letter to them had been of use to them, for it proved that articles prepared for publication must be verified more carefully. He promised that Jauniškis's booklet would not be reprinted.
"But that is not enough for even ordinary defenders of the truth. Jauniškis's libel and that of others like him must be removed from book stores and libraries as quickly as possible to prevent it from deceiving and poisoning the youth. The sacred duty of people of the press is to wage a fight against all types of hooliganism. The fight against physical hooliganism will be for naught if moral hooliganism is not also combatted.
Father Jonas Danyla"
On March 3, 1981,Father Danyla received the following reply:
"The Vaga publishing firm, having reviewed your reply to our reply, that is, the second letter-complaint regarding Jauniškis's book Be iliuzijų (Without illusions), reminds you that the said book was prepared for publication with great care.
"Since you are aware of the publishers' position, there is no need to return to these questions .... (Emphasis added — Ed.)