With the collapse of the civil government's plan to have its candidates for bishop confirmed, it became necessary to find someone to blame. An anonymous writer proposed to achieve this during the Christmas 1981 holidays by sending out a vile and slanderous letter to various individuals, the purpose of which was to sow further confusion in the homeland and the West. It is very peculiar that one Ordinary called this anonymous letter a "strong document". Since the anonymous letter parrots the views of the KGB toward Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius and active priests, we would like to make some comments.
The anonymous author explains that during the period when the dioceses of Lithuania were governed not by bishops but by administrators, "there appeared various cliques of snobs-careerists... which hampered the work of the Ordinaries."
Careerist priests behaved quite the opposite of what the anonymous letter claims. While a third of the priests faithful to the Church suffered in the Soviet Gulag, careerist priests allowed themselves to be drawn into the KGB web, signed documents even against Pope Pius XII and thus climbed the ladder of success. The priests who attempted to fight against the KGB's efforts to subjugate the Catholic Church in Lithuania to the interests of the Communist state did not seek a career. Their career consisted of continual lectures, threats, remote parishes, labor camps, etc.
"Procrastination in solving the problem of the hierarchy is totally rending our unity," the anonymous author writes.
When the Communist Party and the state security draw up and submit plans for candidates for bishop and attempt to quickly "dispose" of the question of the hierarchy of Lithuania's Catholic Church only under conditions acceptable to the civil government, can it possibly serve the unity of the Church? Can the anonymous writer be so naive as to be unaware who shattered the unity of the priests in Lithuania? The atheists and fear of labor camp. Now it is being shattered by careerism and the fear that the road back can cost one's life. How to explain the fact that some priests ignored the exiled bishops for ten years? How to explain that priests whom the government detested and persecuted not only failed to receive the Chancery's moral support, but were also ignored or even berated? To the destroyers of the unity of Lithuania's priests we also add the anonymous writer whose ideas are quite consistent with those of militant atheists.
The anonymous writer charges that exiled Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius did not keep the Holy See's secret regarding the nomination of new bishops.
In fact, the secret was revealed not by Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, but by the episcopal candidates, who, without having the Pope's bull of appointment but only the Holy See's secret announcement of their nomination, began to prepare publicly for their consecration: they set the date of their consecration, invited guests and began retreats. Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius even wrote a letter to Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis, based not on the Holy See's secret announcement, but on the statements of Bishop Povilonis, Father Algirdas Gutauskas and Religious Affairs Commissar Petras Anilionis about the prospective return of the exiled bishops (Steponavičius and Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius. — Transí, note) and the appointment of the new bishops. It is even difficult to judge whether those who failed to keep confidential the bishops' appointment committed an offense, since priests who do not receive the new theology literature published in the West do not know the rules of Canon Law and commentaries on this question.
The anonymous author claims that priests instigated by Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius spoke disrespectfully of the Holy Father, Cardinal Casaroli and other high Vatican officials. This is an obvious attempt on the part of the anonymous writer to discredit Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius and dispose the Holy See against him. Who can possibly believe that a bishop who has been living in exile for over twenty years because of his loyalty to the Church would speak disrespectfully of the Church's Supreme Shepherd. Furthermore, we would like to ask how the anonymous writer could know that Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius is supposed to have spoken disrespectfully of the Holy Father? If the anonymous author truly cherishes the Catholic Church in Lithuania then rather than slander the exiled bishops, he should write the Holy Father the truth about the Ordinary of the Diocese of Panevėžys (Bishop Romualdas Krikščiūnas) the priests and believers of that diocese would truly be indebted to him.
The anonymous writer becomes so carried away that he has the audacity to state that had the exiled Bishops Julijonas Steponavičius and Vincentas Sladkevičius demonstrated their good will, they would have been restored to their positions several years ago.
The priests of Lithuania know what type of "good will" the Soviet government required from the exiled bishops: to betray the interests of the Church, confess when innocent and speak lies about the situation of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. This claim alone more than explains who actually lurks behind the mask of this anonymous writer - "defender" of the Church.
The anonymous writer faults Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius for not going to the Philadelphia Eucharistic Congress, because from there he would have had the opportunity to make contact with the Vatican.
It is common knowledge in Lithuania that the excursion to the Philadelphia Eucharistic Congress was organized not by Lithuania's bishops but by Religious Affairs Commissar Kazimieras Tumėnas. Urgent efforts to convince the exiled bishop to go to the Eucharistic Congress with the delegation of Lithuanian clergy organized by the godless government merely confirmed the assumption that some kind of civil government deception lurked behind them, and Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius therefore refused to go.
The anonymous author further claims that during the religious festival at Šiluva, hotheads from the Catholic Committee vilely denigrated the candidates for bishop.
In fact, during the devotions, after the official Sunday Mass at 3:00 P.M., many young people assembled in the church and Father Alfonsas Svarinskas gave a homily on the current situation of the Church. The preacher explained that the Holy Father wants to appoint shepherds for every Lithuanian diocese, that negotiations between the Vatican and Moscow are being conducted on the matter and that much prayer was needed to prevent the appointment of candidates useful only to the government. The priest did not say a single word about the candidates themselves, but merely mentioned that in the Church's difficult situation, bishops should have the courage to tell the truth and suffer for the truth. Following the homily, Father Svarinskas and the young people went from the main altar on their knees around the Šiluva church, entreating Mary that Lithuania be granted only good bishops. The young people's bloody knees displeased the government representatives who witnessed this unprecedented procession of atonement; however, it appears that these bloody knees also displeased the "defender" of the Catholic Chuch in Lithuania, the anonymous author.
It only remains to explain to the believing community why exiled bishop Julijonas Steponavičius has recently been subjected to so many attacks. Actually, government atheists detested him even before this for his adherence to principle and loyalty to the Church. But this hatred became even more pronounced when the Pope ni one cardinal in pectore (Transl. note — secretly) and the world press began to speculate that the cardinal was Bishop Julijonas navičius. Can the exiled bishop be held accountable if, through suffering and sacrifice, Lithuania has earned the recognition of . Church? Can Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius be held accountable if Lithuania's believers hold him in such high esteem for his long-term loyalty to the Church and would truly rejoice to see the cardinal's hat on the exiled bishop's head.