"To: The Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party
The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR
The Lithuanian SSR Council of Ministers
"Copies to: Bishops and Diocesan Administrators of Lithuania
Between February and April of this year, a campaign was conducted at the rayon centers of the Lithuanian SSR against the Church hierarchy. This campaign was directed by Lithuanian SSR Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis.
'We, the members of the Diocesan Priests Councils of the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Church, elected representatives of the clergy, find it necessary to state the following:
"1. The Catholic Church was established by Our Lord Jesus Christ. It has a hierarchical structure. The head of the Church is the pope in Rome, the successor of St. Peter. The Priests Protest Commissioner's Activities 509 bishops, the successors of the Apostles, help the pope govern the Church. The priests help the bishops. Bishops appoint priests who are called pastors to supervise parishes. Pastors pledge to the bishop that they will be conscientious administrators of the parish and its church. Parish councils are elected from among the believers to fulfill the needs of the Church. The councils are directed by the pastor or a priest who performs the duties of a pastor. The council cannot act without the pastor; otherwise, it incurs ecclesiastical punishment.
"2. Lithuanian SSR Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis completely disregards the hierarchy of the Church. Either personally, or through his associates, he visited the republic's rayon centers and, summoning parish council members, openly incited them against the true authority figures of the parishes, the pastors, urging council members to take charge of the administration of both parochial and church affairs, asserting that council members and not pastors are the administrators of parishes. He called pastors the hirelings of the councils. He incited council members to obstruct pastors in the performance of their duties: to forbid them to instruct children and preach instructional sermons, to forbid priests from other parishes to assist at retreats and recollections, to forbid children to serve at mass and participate in processions. He slandered zealous priests and, in Radviliškis, he expelled from the seminar with the help of the police, priests who were members of their parish councils.
"3. We would like to point out that the Soviet government should not treat the Catholic Church as it does various other sects or the Protestant and even Orthodox Churches. The head of the Catholic Churcn, the pope, lives outside the borders of the Soviet Union. The pope has no political goals. His orders, as head of the Catholic Church, however, are binding on all members of the Catholic Church, regardless of the state or system under which they live. The Catholic Church in Lithuania is also governed by the pope. Catholic bishops, priests, and believers must obey the pope if they wish to remain in union with their Church.
"The Catholic Church has its own legal code, Codex Juris Canonici. This body of law governs all Church life. Catholic bishops, priests, and believers act in accordance with Church canon law. They cannot violate or ignore Church canon law but are obliged to observe it.
"The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian SSR, however, endorsed on July 28, 1976, the Regulations for Religious Associations, which are fundamentally opposed to Church canon law and the hierarchical structure of the Church.
"The intention is to apply these regulations to the Catholic Church in Lithuania as well, despite the fact that the Soviet Government has pledged to respect the religious freedom of its citizens in its Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Helsinki Final Act. Two Lithuanian bishops and 520 priests have written on this matter.
"In view of the above-mentioned facts, we protest the gross violations of Church law which have been implemented and are in the process of being implemented by Commissioner Petras Anilionis. We ask you to remind him that his function is to mediate between the Church and the state and not to destroy the Church. He must be a state official and not a militant atheist.
"With this statement, we once again declare that Lithuania's priests and believers will never be able to accept demands which are contrary to the hierarchical structure of the Church and to its canon laws. We wish to draw your attention to a grievance which, if not corrected in time, could lead the Church into conflict with the state, and that is undesirable and unnecessary for both sides.
May 3, 1981
Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross
Priests Council of the Archdiocese of Vilnius:
Mykolas Petravičius, Jonas Vaitonis, Algimantas Keina,
Jonas Lauriunas, Kazimieras Žemėnas, Marijonas Savickas,
Alfonsas Petronis, Ričardas Černiauskas, Donatas Valiukonis
Priests Council of the Archdiocese of Kaunas:
Jonas Babonas, Eugenijus Bartulis, Mykolas Buožius,
Kęstutis Daknevičius, Gustavas Gudanavičius, Leonas Kalinauskas,
Vytautas Pesliakas, Edvardas Semaška, Alfonsas Svarinskas, Lionginas Vaičiulionis
Priests Council of the Diocese of Panevėžys:
Petras Adomonis, Bronius Antanaitis, Petras Baltuška,
Antanas Balaišis, Petras Budriūnas, Juozas Janulis,
Stanislovas Krumpliauskas, Jonas Pranevičius, Juozas Šumskis, Leopoldas Pratkelis
Priests Council of the Diocese of Telšiai:
Julius Budrikis, Jonas Gedvilas, Jonas Kauneckas,
Alfonsas Lukoševičius, Adomas Milerius, Tadas Poška,
Adolfas Pudžemis, Petras Puzaras, Vincentas Senkus,
Antanas Šeškevičius, Vincentas Vėlavičius
Priests Council of the Diocese of Vilkaviškis:
Sigitas Tamkevičius, Jonas Maksvytis, Andrius Gustaitis,
Albinas Deltuva, Juozas Žemaitis, Pranas Račiūnas,
Kostas Ambrasas (did not sign), Petras Dumbliauskas,
Juozas Adomaitis, Antanas Gražulis
Priests Council of the Diocese of Kaišiadorys:
Jonas Mintaučkis, Marijonas Petkevičius, Jonas Jonys,
Jonas Pilka, Juozas Matulaitis, Stanislovas Kiškis,
Ignacas Milašius, Alfonsas Ažubalis, Mykolas Balnis,