The reply received from Father Juozas Vaičekauskas by members of the Review Commission monitoring observance of laws concerning religious cults attached to the Executive Committee of Radviliškis Rayon was as follows:
"In their open letter to Fathers Juozas Vaičekauskas and Antanas Jokubauskas, printed in the rayon newspaper Komunizmo Aušra (Communist dawn) on April 8, 1981, the members of the review commission wrote the following in reply to the question'Who governs the Catholic Church?': 'We can answer you, pastors. The Catholic Church is governed by the believers themselves. To serve their religious needs, they either invite or receive from the diocese a cult minister, whose only duties are to perform religious rites and ceremonies and nothing else.'
"You are mistaken, dear atheists from the Radviliškis Rayon Executive Committee, and you are misleading others, but it is unclear whether this is being done consciously or out of ignorance! The Catholic Church is governed by the pope in Rome and the bishops. I quote, 'This Council has decided to declare and proclaim before all men its teaching concerning bishops, the successors of the Apostles, who together with the successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ and the visible head of the whole Church, govern the house of the living God' (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Decisions of the Second Vatican Council, p. 42).
" 'With their helpers, the priests and the deacons, the bishops have taken up the service of the community, presiding in place of God over the flock whose Shepherds they are, as teachers of doctrine, priests of sacred worship, and officers of good order' (ibid., p. 43).
" 'Priests govern under the bishop's authority that part of the Lord's flock entrusted to them' (ibid., p. 52).
" 'With ready Christian obedience laymen should accept whatever their sacred pastors, as representatives of Christ, decree in their role as teachers and rulers in the Church' (ibid., p. 60).
" 'Believing laymen do not rule the Church, but they have the right and are sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on matters which concern the good of the Church' (ibid., p. 60).
"If parish council members were to begin governing the Church, as atheists today demand, they would suffer excommunication, i.e., they would be expelled from the community of believers (Codex Juris Canonici, c. 2114, c. 2334, c. 2345.).
"The Catholic Church in Lithuania is separate from the state, but you, dear atheists, issue orders to priests and believers. Why do you interfere in Church affairs? Why do priests and believers not have the right to defend the Church? For a priest is not an atheist but a believing person.
"If I, a Catholic priest, were to accept the dogmas proclaimed by the atheists, would implement atheist demands and go against Church doctrine, I would incur ecclesiastical punishment. Furthermore, I cannot act against my convictions and my conscience! I am a priest of Christ, a priest of the Catholic Church and not a tool of the atheists.
"Believers do not need a priest with a red carnation in his lapel; they shun such priests. Believers share their bread with Christ's priest; they suffer with him and also rejoice with him. But you want to separate the priest from the believers! Your open letter to the rayon newspaper incites the people by asserting that priests are animals and impudent hooligans. It is difficult to believe that you are unaware of what the Constitution has to say on the matter!
"Your allegation, dear atheists, that I ignore the summonses of Soviet law is libelous. I always go where I am summoned, unless I am prevented by illness or some other important reason. I have my beliefs. I have the right to defend them in writing and orally. Why do you attack me with such rancor? You claim to be cultured and polite yet you have termed me a hooligan. If I truly am a hooligan, then why is it that when I was ejected with the help of the police from the Radviliškis Executive Committee meeting room, the believers left with me? Decent people shun hooligans, but believers support and defend us priests!
"You termed me a weed, a thistle. Well, your purpose is clear — to destroy me like a weed! I realized this while present in the Radviliškis Rayon Executive Committee Hall on March 10, 1981. Of course, a weed has no rights! Not only I, but all of Lithuania's priests are mere weeds! Weeds are to be eliminated. It is not surprising that this is what you do.
"You accuse me of violating Soviet laws and urging other clergymen to ignore them. The charge is unjust. When I came to Radviliškis to learn what those Soviet laws were, you drove me from the hall with the help of the police! You were embarrassed to mention this in the open letter you published in the rayon newspaper. You may remember that I asked you, Alfredas Krikštanas, which priests I had urged to disregard Soviet laws. You did not reply and could not reply, for everything had been fabricated.
"A few words about sermons. A priest must remain silent when an atheistic teacher ridicules a believing child! To you a priest is just a weed, and he must, therefore, stay silent and not interfere. A priest must remain silent when he sees drunkenness. This is because, according to you, a priest only has the right to perform religious rites and nothing else.
"Sociologists and physicians have often written in the Soviet press regarding days of rest for farm workers. They work practically the year round! A priest has no right to talk about that!
"Dear atheists, don't pretend to be defenders and protectors of believers. Believers don't trust a single word you say and only see you as wolves in sheep's clothing. By slandering priests and attacking them with the help of the police, you arouse only loathing and repulsion.
"You issue orders to the Church; you want to rule the Church. Who knows, you may succeed, because you employ the right of might; only the future will tell. But such a Church, governed by you, will no longer be Christ's Church, the Catholic Church.
"In conclusion, I sincerely urge you to remove your dark glasses of hatred, brother atheists! Don't forget that believers and priests are human beings. Don't forget that it is impossible to win the ideological battle with hatred and force!
April 10, 1981
Rev. Juozas Vaičekauskas"
On May 10,1981, [Miss] Barbora Leliūnaitė, residing in Kretinga at 5 Komjaunimas St. and 136 other believers sent the following statement to Petras Griškevičius, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Lithuanian SSR Communist Party:
"On April 14 of this year, I erected in my yard a small Samogitian-style shrine on the strength of the letter the Chancery of the Diocese of Telšiai sent to all priests on October 11, 1954, stating 'It is permitted to erect crosses not only in churchyards and cemeteries but also in the yards of believers' (no. 577). Of course, this authorization was certainly cleared with the Religious Affairs Commissioner, i.e., with the government, was never rescinded, and is, therefore, still in effect, for it is based on Article 52 of the Lithuanian SSR Constitution.
"On May 5 of this year, however, the Executive Committee of Kretinga Rayon summoned me 'about an illegal construction.' I did not appear, for I was ill. Later, by Document no. 158, dated May 5, it was ordered that the shrine be removed within one month.
"On May 15, at 4 a.m., a group of unidentified men forced their way into my yard, tore down the shrine, loaded it and five statues onto a truck, and took it away. This was obviously done at the order of the Kretinga Executive Committee. This action angered not only me but other believers as well.
"At the request of the believers I ask you to order the return of the illegally seized shrine and statues.
"1. It is permissible to erect crosses and shrines near one's home.
"2. The Executive Committee of Kretinga Rayon did not adhere to its own regulations because it destroyed the shrine twenty days prior to the deadline. During that time period I would have resolved the entire matter.
"3. They destroyed the shrine at night as if they sensed the darkness of their deed, like robbers. Even in broad daylight no one would have been able to offer such a band of men any resistance. Thus, they proved that the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Soviet Constitution is contrary to the reality of life, for religion is destroyed by force while atheism is forcibly imposed on the country.
"4. In view of the fact that the Soviet Constitution guarantees the freedom of conscience and religion, it would logically be ridiculous to either demand or request permission to erect a shrine or cross in one's own yard. Of course, atheists are indifferent to both the Constitution and human rights. They fanatically destroy everything connected with religion. This is evidenced by the frequently devastated Hill of Crosses, the vandalized wayside shrines and religious monuments in Plunge, Pajūris, the Kelmė cemetery, and throughout Lithuania, and the churches burned down or turned into warehouses.
"Is the government powerless to end this cruel atheistic terrorism? We, the people of Kretinga, are outraged at this continuing behavior by government atheists who violate the most basic human rights and together with Barbora Leliūnaitė demand that the wrong done her and the resultant outrage be corrected."
(People often placed flowers at the base of the destroyed shrine. The police came at the end of May and broke up the base with jackhammers and took the pieces away in a truck - Ed.).
"To: The Chancery of the Diocese of Panevėžys
"During the past several years, the church in Šeduva has been broken into and robbed several times.
"In 1954 thieves broke into the church through a window, and all the linen was stolen from five altars as well as all the carpets from the altar steps.
"At 3 p.m. on March 5, 1976, the locks of the church doors were cut, the crosses standing on the altars were stolen, and the donation boxes in the church were robbed. Several months later, six teenagers from the city of Šiauliai were caught; they had also burglarized other churches and had killed a man. They were convicted.
"In 1976 glass panes that were to be used to repair the church windows were stolen from the churchyard. When the Šeduva police deputy was informed in writing of the theft, they did not bother to come to the scene of the crime.
"When the sacristan opened the church at noon on August 12, 1978, two teenagers allegedly taking a look at the church broke the head of one of the figurines at the third Station of the Cross and ran away, having damaged a work of art.
"On October 19, 1978, a piece of the canvas (l m. x 0.5 m.) was torn from the picture at the eleventh Station of the Cross in the churchyard.
"During the night of November 7, 1978, a cross was removed from the main metal gate of the churchyard and the gate was bent.
"On the morning of January 16, 1980, a church window, 4.5 meters above the ground, was found broken. Obviously someone had been hurt because bloodstains were found on the sill and on the churchyard pavement. Perhaps the person was frightened off by the installed alarm.
"Prayer books and rosaries are often stolen from the church.
"I will mention one unpleasant incident in greater detail: At about 1 p.m. on February 5, 1979, a group of teenagers was noticed going into the church vestibule. (The glass doors to the church were locked.) When the sacristan, Monkus, noticed this and went into the churchyard, he encountered three teenagers carrying a disassembled censer. Noticing this, he demanded that they return it, but they hurried away, hurling threats. He informed us of the robbery. We hurried into town hoping to catch a glimpse of the culprits. Unfortunately, we were only able to learn that a bus full of tourists had stopped at the store, but the salesgirls were closing for lunch when they entered the store. We informed the Šeduva police deputy, and he came in the evening to investigate. In the churchyard footprints showed where they had been. Crosses had been torn from the second and the third Stations of the Cross and several panes of glass had been broken. The figure of the crucified Christ had been ripped from the cross on the tombstone of Fr. V. Milvidas. An attempt had been made to remove the figure of the crucified Christ from an artistic metal cross erected in 1898 which was inscribed 'In God's honor, from the Youth Foundation.' The youths had paid another visit ... It had weathered so many storms and now they had succeeded in detaching the arms and the legs but had been unable, even though they used a crowbar, to remove the figure of the crucified Christ, which was firmly attached at the waist. They had entered the church cellar and had ransacked everything. It was from here they had stolen the censer. Cigarette butts littered the front entrance of the church; the churchyard had been soiled. All this proved that the touring visitors were not locals. Although the police were informed of the robbery, they showed no initiative. I had to try to investigate personally. On February 7 I learned that the tourists who had visited Šeduva were now in Vilnius and were leaving on a train that evening for home in Krivoy Rog, the Ukraine. I learned that on February 5, a teenager had stolen a cross during services from the Old Town church in Panevėžys but was apprehended in the street and taken to police headquarters, where he was held for three hours and released. He was a tourist from Krivoy Rog. We had to hurry. We arrived at the Vilnius Railroad Station. It was 9 p.m., and the train was leaving in twenty-five minutes. We learned that the tour group was in car no. 13. We hurried to the car, where the conductor confirmed that it contained teenagers bound for Krivoy Rog. There were about thirty of them. We asked to see the tour director. Two young women approached, and we asked them: 'Was the group in Panevėžys?' They confirmed that it had been there.
" 'Which one of your teenagers robbed the Old Town church in Panevėžys?' I again asked the tour leaders.
" 'Yes — but we have taken care of that,' the leader replied.
" 'It is unfortunate that some of your young people also robbed the Seduva church/ I told the leader. She denied it.
" 'Since some of your boys robbed the church, tell them to return to us what they took because if they don't we are not going to just let it rest.' The leader jumped to her group's defense, arguing: 'Who are you? .... We will not permit our children to be traumatized .... We'll write a complaint.'
"We replied that we had the right to search for the stolen articles, and if they were not returned, we would go to the police.
"Two of us then went to see the Vilnius Railroad police, and one stayed in the railroad car. There were many men at the police station, auxiliary policemen with red armbands. We spoke to a uniformed captain, identified ourselves as having come from Seduva because our church was robbed and the thieves were in car no. 13. We asked that they conduct a search because the train was leaving in ten minutes. The captain replied: 'We won't make a search. Let the Radviliškis police make the search.' Another official added that they would not follow the train.
" 'Then what should we do, should we search them ourselves?' I asked.
"The captain replied: 'You can search.'
"We hurried back to the car and met the man we had left behind coming toward us holding the censer (the censer was made in Warsaw three hundred years ago). One chain was missing completely and the other two were broken. The tour leader was crying with her hands over her face: 'Shame, shame! What should we do?'
"What a spiritual atheistic crisis the thieving schoolchildren of Krivoy Rog Professional Trade School had demonstrated. And only the best students are taken on tours!
"What we don't understand is, what is the function of the railroad police? Even when the culprits are found, the captain with a whole army of auxiliary policemen refuses to help. Are they only needed for parades?
Šeduva, February 5, 1981
Canon B. Antanaitis,
Pastor of the Šeduva and the Dambrava parishes"
Josvainiai (Kėdainiai Rayon)
On April 3, 1981, Josvainiai collective farm Chairman Antanas Laurinavičius and Mičiurinas collective farm Chairman Kazys Šidlauskas, both Communist party members and atheists, summoned without giving a reason the members of the Josvainiai Parish Council to the Josvainiai collective farm office: Aleksas Brazauskas, Ignas Hurtilius, Kazys Dzikas, Alfonsas Mykolaitis, Juozas Mančinskas, Aloyzas Pranevičius, Valentinas Sirvidas, Apolinaras Šmigelskis, and Viktoras Zinkevičius. The council also includes Father Leonas Kalinauskas; the sacristan, Julius Šulcas; and Chairman Vincas Urbonas. They were not invited.
Vice Chairman A. Juškevičius of Kėdainiai Rayon demanded that they elect a new chairman then and there. The atheists even nominated a candidate. The council members all refused to do so.
In addition, Juškevičius demanded that they sign a new contract with the Kėdainiai Rayon Committee. The parish council members refused categorically. They explained that the old contract signed in 1948 had no termination date, had not been cancelled, and was still in effect, and that the new contract actually permitted atheists to manage the church as their own and to interfere in internal affairs of the Church. Josvainiai church Trustee Jonas Leonavičius asked, "Why do we need a contract if the Church is separate from the state?" Aloyzas Pranevičius, a church trustee from the village of Angiriai, requested that the local pastor be invited because chairmen always attend collective farm meetings, and the pastor must always participate in church matters.
"His place is at the altar; he is not needed here! You have all been incited by Father Kalinauskas!" replied Juškevičius, annoyed.
This was not the first time that representatives of the Kėdainiai Rayon authorities have attempted to force the Josvainiai Parish Council to sign a unilateral, atheist-dictated ambiguous and deceptive contract.
Collective farm chairmen Laurinavičius and Kazys Šidlauskas are building large homes right next to the churchyard. Meanwhile, the priest has had to leave the rectory and find a place to live much farther away from the church.
In 1972 [Miss] Dalia Tamutytė (residing in Šiauliai at 65 Ežeras St., apt. 35) enrolled in the Šiauliai Advanced School of Music. Both she personally and her mother were warned by the instructors regarding her devoutness. Upon graduating from the school in 1976, she received, having been a good student, a recommendation to enroll in the State Conservatory in Vilnius. She was not admitted. Tamutytė returned to Šiauliai and began to seek work in her field. Director Kleišmanas of the Šiauliai People's Education Department had nothing to offer the young musician. She found work at a kindergarten and began to work as the director of music. The atmosphere at the kindergarten was totally Soviet; some of the women on the faculty drank almost daily with the school's director during working hours. Because Tamutytė attempted to promote temperance, she was not liked by her colleagues and was continually terrorized. Finally, she was issued a public reprimand for not participating in "social" activities. After working for four years, she was forced to leave her job "voluntarily." Realizing she would no longer be permitted to work in her field, she found employment at the Šiauliai Maternity Clinic as a secretary-typist. Later, when issue no. 45 of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania reported that on September 10, 1980, two Chekists (Slankauskas and another who did not identify himself) "educated" an employee at the Šiauliai Maternity Clinic, Dalia Tamutyte, she was again forced to leave her job "voluntarily," because after the Chekists' visit she had become persona non grata at the maternity clinic. When she was dismissed from work on October 21, 1980, she was asked by the administration, "Do you know [Mrs.] J. Petkevičienė?"
"Yes, she is a distant relative," replied Tamutytė.
"Well now! We don't need another Petkevičienė at the maternity clinic!"
Tamutytė could not complain to anyone because she worked as a secretary-typist but was listed as a junior medical nurse.
On December 1, 1980, Tamutytė found work at the Šiauliai Housing Authority as a secretary-typist, and on January 13, 1981, her constant overseer, Slankauskas, came to her new place of employment. First the Chekist produced a photocopy of issue no. 45 of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, containing a report about Tamutytė and her father, Jonas Tamutis. The Chekist demanded that she reveal how this information found its way into the underground publication. He threatened and lectured her, saying: "Don't you dare participate in religious marches, to Šiluva or anywhere else, because we will deal quickly with all the splinter groups just as we did with [Miss] Stanelytė. Now it's Jurevičius's turn!" The Chekist became silent when asked, "Who is next?" He left without accomplishing anything.
On March 27, 1981, Housing Authority Director Černiauskas summoned Tamutytė and told her to report immediately to the security police because he had received a call ordering her to appear for questioning as a witness in M. Jurevičius's case. Once there, she was forced to write an explanation as to whom she had given information regarding her talks with the KGB, to Jurevičius or Petkevičienė? Tamutyte was interrogated by the Chekist Slankauskas and Security Police Assistant Director A. Ališauskas. She was not intimidated by Ališauskas's shouts and threats and categorically refused to write any statement. The security agents then attempted to bribe her. They demanded she bring them underground publications, for each of which she would receive 50 rubles. When she refused to do so, they threatened her with the electric chair.
When Tamutytė returned to work from the interrogation, Director Černiauskas pleaded with her to resign voluntarily because the security police would leave neither him nor her alone. Thus, on April 1, 1981, Tamutytė was again dismissed "of her own will" after she wrote the following statement: "I am writing this statement because the Šiauliai division of the State Security Committee has ordered me dismissed from work."
The security agents threatened her, "If you don't stop, well I meet again; if you don't come, we'll bring you by force. If you remain silent about our talks, we'll leave you alone. We won't allow you to work anywhere, however, until you confess how the information reached the underground publication and the Vatican."
Dalia Tamutytė is currently unemployed.
On March 25,1981, a search directed by Judge [Miss] Z. Siudikaitė, was made of the Šiauliai apartment, storeroom, and garage belonging to the retired teacher [Mrs.] Elzbieta Klimavičienė. The following items were confiscated:
- three notebooks
- envelopes with addresses
- 8 cassettes
- a letter to [Miss] Nijolė Sadūnaitė written by members of the Confraternity of the Most Blessed Sacrament
- 12 photographs and the following books: Dievo buvimas (Existence of God), Kryžiaus keliai (Stations of the Cross), Sąžinės sąskaita (Examination of conscience), Dievo akivaizda (God's presence), Pranašas Danielius (The Prophet Daniel), and others.
[Mrs.] Janusauskienė and Anicetas Zaučius were called as witnesses.
Before the search, Klimavičienė was interrogated three times at the City of Šiauliai Security Police Department and accused of printing books of a religious nature and of teaching young people religious doctrine.
In April 1981 in Vilnius during a meeting with Julius Sasnauskas at the Security Committee headquarters, the Chekist Česnavičius threatened Sasnauskas's seventy-five-year-old grandmother, [Mrs.] Sofija Nikšienė, simply because she had signed some petitions — for the return of the Klaipėda church to believers and against the detention of Petras Cidzikas in a psychiatric hospital.
He threatened, "Don't stick your fingers where they don't belong; we'll crush them. I'll call the Social Services Department, and your pension will be cut," shouted Česnavičius.
The elderly woman was not intimidated, and she told the Chekist, "Go ahead and take away my pension."
"To: The Director of the Postal Authority of the Ministry of Communications
"Copy to: The Director of the Vilnius Central Post Office
"A Statement from Jonas Sadūnas, 27-2 Architektai St., Vilnius 43
"On October 3,1980, (receipt no. 912) I sent a registered letter with return receipt requested to the Federal Republic of Germany.
"On October 6, 1980, (receipt no. 431), October 8, (receipt no. 82), and October 18 (receipt no. 348) I sent registered letters with return receipts to Israel from the Vilnius Central Post Office (no. 9 Lenin St.).
"Not a single return receipt came back. I later learned that none of the above letters reached their destinations.
"Please let me know why my registered letters do not reach their destinations.
March 5, 1981
"P.S. I sent the registered letters with return receipt from the Vilnius Central Post Office to the following addresses:
8850 Donauworth West Germany
2.Friar Hieronymus, O.F.M.
P.O.B. 186 Israel"
Note: No response has been made by the Director of the Postal Authority to this inquiry.
"To: The Director of Agency zx 385/3-5
"A Statement from Jonas Sadūnas, 27-2 Architektai St., Vilnius 43
"I have corresponded with Petras Paulaitis for five years. He used to receive nearly all my letters. Lately, he has received only four of the sixteen letters I sent. Not only letters but cards as well, are being confiscated. I mailed two cards with each letter.
"Please inform me what is being done so that P. Paulaitis would receive my letters."
March 12, 1981
N.B. No answer has been received to date.
On March 25, 1981, an atheistic conference was held at the Kaunas P. Mažylis Medical School. Lithuanian Agricultural Academy Head Instructor [Miss] Mikutytė had the audacity to state publicly in defense of the criminals who burned Father Juozas Zdebskis that the priest "was admitted to the venereal disease dispensary. He ran away from there and sought private treatment."
KGB-inspired agitators made similar statements in many locations throughout Lithuania.
On March 25, 1981, the faithful of the city of Kaunas sent on the strength of articles 49 and 58 of the USSR Constitution a statement to the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the City of Kaunas Soviet of People's Deputies and to the Secretary of the Kaunas Committee of the Lithuanian Communist party, demanding that Order no. 105, dated February 26, 1975, forbidding the use of religious pictures and other religious symbols in funeral homes, the singing of religious hymns, the services of cult ministers (priests — Ed.), the holding of funeral ceremonies with religious rites on the premises, be rescinded and declared void.
The statement was signed by 1,916 believers.
At the beginning of May 1981 three young men, one of them Zvezdovas from the village of Jurgaičiai, vandalized the Hill of Crosses. They broke and smashed crosses, pictures, shrines; broke and removed rosaries; and threw everything they could desecrate onto the ground.
Hooligans like Zvezdovas have the support of the Soviet government.
On June 11, 1981, [Miss] Nijolė Sadūnaitė wrote a statement to the chief judge of the Lithuanian SSR Supreme Court requesting a copy of the verdict handed down in her June 16-17,1975, trial because the document of the court's verdict had been confiscated from her by the Barashevo, Mordoviya, labor camp administration the day she arrived at the camp and had not been returned despite her written requests that the document be returned.
On June 24, Assistant Judge M. Ignotas of the Lithuanian SSR Supreme Court sent the following reply to Sadūnaitė's request:
"This is to inform you that a copy of the verdict in your criminal case was given you once and copies of verdicts in this type of case are not issued a second time."
N.B. Documents of court verdicts are immediately confiscated from all political prisoners and are not returned.
In Telšiai Rayon, Communist Youth League members were sent into parishes during Easter, 1981, and on April 30 they had to report the following to the party committee: the number of people who attended the services (men, women, minors); how many served at mass; how many women and men were in the choir; how many boys and girls participated in the procession.
"To: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party
The Commissioner for Religious Affairs
"A Statement from The Catholics of the Gargždai Parish (abridged — Ed.)
"On the strength of Article 52 of the Soviet Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of conscience and religion, we ask you to permit the ringing of bells when a deceased is brought into the church and when he is escorted to the cemetery.
"The Executive Committee of Klaipėda Rayon in Gargždai was petitioned many times regarding this matter, but we have received no reply and are, therefore, forced to appeal to you.
"We beg that you allow us to enjoy the religious freedom guaranteed to us. Please reply to the following address:
Rayon of Klaipėda
1-2 Tiltas St.
Father A. Šeškevičius."
Signed by 1,077 believers