Veiviržėnai (Klaipėda Rayon)
During the night of July 26-27, 1982, in the church of Veiviržėnai, the Blessed Sacrament was desecrated. The culprits broke into the church, smashed the main altar, ana stole the tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament. After approximately a month, the tabernacle was found in a forest about 5 km. away. The Blessed Sacrament was not in the tabernacle.
The desecrated altar of Veiviržėnai church. Additional details of the vandalism can be found in CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA, No. 54.
On August 22, 1982, in the parish church of Veiviržėnai, services of reparation took place for the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament. They began at 10:00 AM and ended at 7:00 PM. A large church was packed with people. Participating in the services were young people from Gargždai, Kretinga and other locations in Samogitia. Holy Mass was offered on a temporary altar set up in the middle of the nave. Evening Mass was concelebrated by members of the Catholic Commėttee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, Fathers: Vincas Vėlavičius, Jonas Kauneckas and Alfonsas Svarinskas.
In the sermon, Father Svarinskas spoke as follows: "One and the same phenomenon is not called the same by everyone in Lithuania. The astheists call activity against the Church ideological warfare, but we the faithful call it ideological hooliganism. Can it be called ideological warfare when they beat someone whose hands are tied?
"The Catholic Church in Lithuania is not only bound, but also hobbled. Therefore, the best name for this warfare is ideological hooliganism, which has lately degenerated into ideological satanism.
"This satanism deeply offends us believers, showing as it does the true face of the government atheists. At the same time, it brings us closer together around the Church and God."
After the services, Father Jonas Kauneckas, using Soviet literature as source, demonstrated the stereotyped and damaged person who no longer knows what he is doing. Therefore, it is not the individual who is guuilty, but the entire educational system, which has led the nation down a blind alley.
At the services, 1500 people received Communion and many priests from surrounding parishes participated.
During the summer of 1982, the anniversary of the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament at Pažėrai (Kaunas Rayon) and Viduklė (Raseiniai Rayon) was commemorated. At Pažėrai, the Pastor of Garliava, Monsignor Andriejus Gustaitis spoke. At Viduklė, the Pastor of Tabariškiai, Father Petras Dumbliauskas, delivered no less than ten sermons. The preacher spoke in a frank and fiery manner, illustrating his statements with examples from life. After the solemnities, Father Dumbliauskas was summoned to the Kaunas Prosecutor's Office, where Assistant Prosecutor for the Republic Bakučionis warned him against calumniating the Soviet system.
Nevarėnai (Telšiai Rayon)
During the night of July 6, 1982, an artistic statue of an angel was stolen from a shrine in the cemetery of Nevarėnai. A week later, the night of July 14, statues of Mary, Jesus and a second angel were stolen from the same shrine. On July 23, a wooden figurine of an angel was taken from a shrine in the churchyard, and from a nearby wayside shrine, a small wooden statue of Saint Anthony was stolen.
Lauksoda (Telšiai Rayon)
On the night of August 24, 1982, an artistic statuette of Saint Florian, enjoying the protection of the state as a folk monument, was stolen from a little shrine in the churchyard of Lauksoda.
Lieplaukė (Telšiai Rayon)
During the night of August 24, 1982, a large wooden statue of Saint John the Baptist was stolen from a shrine along the road to Zarasai. The statue had been on the list of folk monuments under government protection.
Tūbausiai (Kretinga Rayon)
During the night of August 27, 1982, culprits broke in through the sacristy window and vandalized the church of Tūbausiai. They damaged the metal tabernacle on the main altar, demolished the tabernacles on the side altars, and stole reliquaries, two altar lighting fixtures, many candles and a cincture. They ransacked all the closets and drawers containing vestments.
On the morning of September 7, 1982, at the doors of the Cathedral of Telšiai, a package was found, containing a broken ciborium minus its cover.
Gargždai (Klaipėda Rayon).
On March 19, 1982, the Commissioner for Religious Affairs Petras Anilionis came to Gargždai and summoned the members of church committees in the Klaipėda Rayon. Participating in the meeting were Vice Chairman Leika of the Rayon. Participating in the meeting were Vice Chairman Leika of the Klaipėda Executive Committee, and Vice Chairwoman for Religious Affairs (Mrs.) Blažienė. In his talk, Commissioner Anilionis sang the praises of Soviet law which is supposedly the most humane in the world, providing complete freedom of conscience and tolerating even such extremist priests as Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamke-vičius, Jonas Kauneckas, Vytautas Skiparis and others like them, who in their sermons, to use the words of the Commissioner, demoralize the faithful, especially the youth, and liberal Soviet reality.
Anilionis called the processions of the faithful to Šiluva anti-Soviet: "We will punish everyone who organizes them or takes part in them," threatened the Commissioner.
When committee members asked when the Queen of Peace Church in Klaipėda would be returned, Religious Affairs Commissioner Anilionis assured them that it would never be returned, and tried to convince everyone that the government took it with the consent of the people.
"We're giving you permission — enlarge the present church. I have heard that you are collecting signatures again. Your signatures won't do you any good, even if you send them by the kilogram," Anilionis curtly retorted. After these words of the commissioner, some of the committee members rose and left the room.
Responding to a question asking when Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius and Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius would be allowed to resume their episcopal duties, Anilionis complained that they would have been allowed to resume their posts long ago, but that the demands of the two bishops were so great that the government could not consent to them (Bishop Sladkevičius was reinstated, July, 1982 — Trans. Note).
Kybartai (Vilkaviškis Rayon)
On August 14, 1982, a group of faithful from the parish of Kybartai, together with their pastor, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, hired a bus from the Vilkaviškis Bus Park and drove out to the Šiauliai Rayon to pray on the anniversary of a certain man's death, and on the way, to visit one or two of the more important historical sites in Lithuania. Coming to the road leading to the Hill of Crosses (about 2 km. remained to the Hill), the bus had to stop for a traffic department sign.
The faithful, leaving the bus on the main road, headed for the Hill reciting the rosary. Along the road, as well as at the Hill of Crosses itself, were traffic police and security agents. After praying and inspecting the Hill of Crosses, the pilgrims returned to the road, but could not find the bus there. A traffic policeman on duty at the road, refused to assist them. Then the people set off for Šiauliai, in the rain, praying: reciting the rosary and singing hymns. Not finding the bus at the City of Šiauliai Traffic Department, they went to the Šiauliai Rayon State Security Committee, where it was explained to the faithful that nothing was known of the event, except that shortly before, there had been a telephone call from the traffic department, saying that the bus was parked in the Rayon Traffic Department yard, awaiting the travellers. Officials at the Rayon Traffic Department sarcastically stated that the Traffic Department, after checking documents, released the driver and they did not know where he went.
Father Sigitas Tamkevičius, pastor of the parish in Kybartai, Lithuania.
"Maybe the driver became firghtened, and went home," the Traffic Department person in charge said.
Evening was approaching. Hungry and tired, the people, stranded several hundred kilometers from home, were forced to seek other means of transportation for home after getting just six hours of use from the bus which they had hired for two days. Their food and belongings, including the clothing of some, had been left on the bus. At midnight, they reached home, and gathered in the church at Kybartai, where they thanked God at Mass, and prayed for government officials encountered during the day, full of hatred for religion and religious believers.
The next day, it was discovered that as soon as the people had left the bus, a traffic policeman and a security agent had come up to the driver and sternly ordered him to drive to Šiauliai. When the driver had tried to object and asked, "What about the people?", the chekist sarcastically remarked that the pilgrims would go home on foot. The bus was ordered to the Headquarters of the Šiauliai Rayon State Security Committee and the driver was interrogated and threatened for three hours.
When the questioning was over, they wrote in his itinerary that he was to drive directly to the Vilkaviškis garage. The government did not return the money that the faithful had paid to rent the bus.
Vice Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Juozėnas, tells the priests that Fathers Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas Kauneckas have calmed down on the surface, and that Father Vincas Vėlavičius has completely "taken off", but in reality, he has turned all his atention to the Chronicle.
In the opinion of Juozėnas, His Excellency Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius does not want to work, so the Chronicle in the future will not call him a martyr.
Spreading these rumors, the chekist in sheep's clothing is trying to sound out the clergy to see what their reaction will be.
Since June, the Soviet government has been trying to transfer Father Ričardas Černiauskas from Saint Michael's Church in Vilnius. The government atheists have not been pleased that every Sunday, crowds of people gather for Father Černiauskas' sermons, especially the youth. The faithful, learning about the attempt to transfer the priest, began to send delegations to the Administrator of the Archdiocese, Father Algirdas Gutauskas, urging him not to give in to pressure from the government: not transfer their beloved priest. Later, they themselves appealed to the office of the Commissioner for Religious Affairs. In the case of one delegation, Anilionis tried to act as though he had not even heard that Father Černiauskas was being transferred; however, when he became emotional, he betrayed the fact that his office is orchestrating everything.
In spite of the constant protests on the part of the faithful, the petitions with hundreds of signatures and various delegations, Father
The Church of SS. Peter and Paul in Vilnius, Lithuania, where Father Ričardas Černiauskas is permitted to offer Mass, but not to preach. His transfer from St. Michael's in Vilnius caused an outcry from the faithful.
Ričardas Černiauskas had to take leave of St. Michael's parish, September 26. On that occasion, the youth and the faithful presented him with many flowers and sincerely thanked him for his beautiful priestly example, his sacrifice and his prayers.
In response, Father Černiauskas first thanked His Excellency Julijonas Steponavičius who had shown him especially much undeserved attention: He had been like a real father to him. Moreover, Father Černiauskas urged the faithful to pray, thanking God for a shepherd of such great spirit in whose heart all the joys and sorrows of the faithful find an echo, while he, himself, by his small sacrifice, identifies himself with the great suffering of the bishop-exile.
Father Černiauskas announced to the faithful that now, as one who stayed in Vilnius to get well, he is allowed only to offer Mass and to hear confessions in the church of SS. Peter and Paul. He is forbidden to preach.
It is clear to all that this transfer is the Soviet government's revenge for the priest's zealous work with the young and the faithful; however, the priest, ending his farewell talk, reminded everyone that he has no regrets, that he did everything dictated by his conscience, and if he had it all to do over again, he would once more work with the youth, he would once more drive to Molėtai to conduct a retreat, and he would work in a way required by Christ and Church law.
Paveisininkai (Lazdijai Rayon)
In the District of Kapčiamiestis, in Paveisininkai, there is a church not registered by the government. Since May 30, 1982, at the request of the faithful, Father Ignas Plioraitis has been offering Mass on the first Sunday of the month, and during festivals in the church of Paveisininkai, and administers to the faithful.
On October 3, 1982, in the church of Paveisininkai, the Feast of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus was being celebrated. On the feast day, Commissioner V. Kavaliukas of the Kapčiamistis Militia, District Chairman Z. Lapinskas, Communal Farm Chairman V. Jurašius, Agronomist M. Garbenčius and Engineer V. Žiūrinskas strode about the churchyard and harassed the owners of automobiles who had come to church; finally he wrote them summonses, fining them 10 rubles apiece for entering a forbidden zone.
In spite of the interference on the part of government officials, the church was full of people, and Father Plioraitis clebrated solemn Mass.
Viduklė (Raseiniai Rayon)
On October 28, 1982, Chairman E. Kringelis showed up at the parish priest's house to see Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, with a warning forbidding believers to go to cemeteries to honor their dead on November 1. Otherwise, they would be disregarding the instructions of May 12, 1965. Moreover, at the present time, foot and mouth disease was spreading, Chairman Kringelis explained. Therefore, all gatherings are forbidden. The pastor refused to acknowledge the warning in writing.
That same day, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas was summoned to the Raseiniai Rayon Executive Committee where a similar warning was again given him, and he was told to receipt it. Arguing that "if atheists can go to the cemetery, then Catholics can also go, since all citizens as affirmed by Par. 32 of the LSSR Constitution are equal before the law," Father Svarinskas refused to sign.
On November 1, from noon on, the town of Viduklė was full of militia and security agents. The traffic police stopped all automobiles entering town, allowing only residents of the town to pass. Those living further away and guests could reach the cemetery only on foot. At five o'clock that afternoon, young people in national costume, the priest and a large crowd of the faithful (approximately 1000 -1,500 people)led by a cross and funeral banners, walked in procession from the church to the cemetery singing the Litany of All Saints.
Government agents in automobiles buzzed from one end of town to the other, and opening the doors, demonstratively photographed the procession. Not far from the cemetery, one man in civilian garb photographed every rank of youth. The traffic police said among themselves: "Why did they bring us here? After all, the people are walking in such orderly fashion that it's beautiful to see . . . They are making fools of themselves again."
The chekists summoned Director Letukas of the Viduklė State Farm to the firehouse, which was not far from the cburch, and ordered him to identify farmers participating in the procession. Letukas, using as an excuse the fact that it was twilight and foggy, refused to comply.
In the cemetery, the atheists, in an effort to harass the faithful, had loudspeakers operating.
Žemaičių Kalvarija (Plungė Rayon)
On July 7, 1982, the traffic police stopped a car on its way back from the religious festival in progress at Žemaičių Kalvarija (Samogitian Calvary).Riding in it were Fathers Antanas Šeškevičius, Jonas Paliukas and Konstantinas Velioniškis. Republic Traffic Police Officials Vaitasius and Zabarauskas took the driver in to check his documents, and questioned him approximately an hour, about which priests he had been driving, how much he had been paid, where else he had taken them, etc. The chekists were most interested to know wheter the chauffeur often drove priests with cameras, and what they photographed along the way. Finally, his driver's license was taken away from him.
Believers departing the shrine of Žemaičių Kalvarija following services.
While they were "checking" the driver's papers, a militiaman informed the priests sitting in the car that they would all have to come in to district headquarters to be identified. Father Jonas Paliukas and Father Antanas Šeškevičius had their passports with them; hence their identities were established on the spot; but Father Velioniškis was escorted to the temporary militia headquarters.
"Why are you photographing and filming?" the chekists attacked Father Velioniškis. When after three hours of "identification" it became clear that during the festival, Father Jonas Paliukas had taken souvanir photographs, Father Velioniškis was released.
Žemaičių Kalvarija (Plungė R a y o n)
On July 7, 1982, a young man from Kretinga, a religious believer who had photographed the services and the procession to the Hill of Crosses, was detained at Žemaičių Kalvarija. At first, the young man was interrogated at the temporary militia headquarters at Žemaičių Kalvarija. Afterwards, he was taken to Plungė where the chekists continued the interrogation until late at night. Confiscated from the young man were taped copies of sermons and films. The chekists tried to brainwash the young man so that according to them, he would not damage his life with religion.
On September 17, 1982, (Miss) Ona Lazdauskaitė was summoned to see Investigator Dapkūnas at the Telšiai Security Police Headquarters. The investigator was interested in the youth of the Cathedral of Telšiai. He asked who had organized the pilgrimmage to Žemaičių Kalvarija, where the religious festival was taking place, where they obtained their bus, who had driven children in their own cars, etc. The chekist was edgy about the colors worn by the worshippers from Telšiai Cathedral: green, yellow and red.
"If three women meet on the street, wearing yellow, green and red coats, that, according to you, constitutes the flag of bourgeois Lithuania and perhaps the militia ought to be summoned. We have been praying and will continue to pray, and if you do not allow us to go to the festival, we will go on foot," Ona Lazdauskaitė said, refusing to give in during the interrogation.
Žlibinai (Plungė Rayon).
The faithful of Žlibinai parish wrote the following petition to the LSSR Council of Ministers:
"We request the Comrade Chairman of the Council of Ministers to return our church to us, the believers of Žlibinai, and to allow a clergyman to carry out religious ceremonies in it. The church of Žlibinai was registered by the Soviet government. It has its own church committee, paid taxes, and carried out all obligations according to state requirements. It was closed twenty years ago on demand of one or more nonbelievers, without the knowledge of the believers. At the present time, the church of Žlibinai has been turned into a warehouse. It causes many hardships for us, the believers, of Žlibinai, when there is a deceased person to be buried, since the remains must be taken to the church at Kontaučiai in the Rayon of Plungė. This causes special inconvenience in the winter, fall and spring, when the roads are bad. It is necessary to take off from government work and to tie up government cars for long periods of time. Besides, the church of Žlibinai is badly neglected; the fence around it has been knocked down. The church is an old architectural monument. We believers agree to repair the church and to look after it.
"We request the Comrade Chairman of the Council of Ministers to honor our petition by returning the church of Žlibinai to the believers."
This petition was signed by 291 believers.
On September 7, 1982, the petition of the faithful of the Žlibinai parish was presented to the Council of Ministers. For a month, the faithful did not receive any reply.
The faithful also wrote a petition to the Bishop of Telšiai, requesting him to appoint a priest to serve the parish of Žlibinai. The petition was signed by about 300 individuals (according to the Soviet Constitution, twenty believers have the right to constitute a religious association and to have a house of prayer).
On September 17, 20 and 21, 1982, a trial took place in Mažeikiai: Judge Stakauskas; Prosecutor, (Miss) Mickutė; Attorneys, Jankauskas and Staškevičius tried the case of Zigmas Mockevičius, his brother Danielius Mockevičius, Antanas Kairys and Alvydas Butkus.
Those on trial had burglarized three churches and three residents, torturing them cruelly. In the Kuldinga Rayon of Latvia, Danielius Mockevičius had burglarized the Lutheran church of Skranda.
On January 31, 1980, the same Danielius Mockevičius had burglarized the church of Gadunavą, in the Rayon of Telšiai, making off with three ciboria (one of which contained the Blessed Sacrament), two chalices, a crucifix, a small serving tray and a small carpet. The culprits, after cutting up the ciboria and chalices and finding that they were not gold, threw them into the Gagrėnai Lake.
On July 9, 1980, burglars broke into the church at Žemaičių Kalvarija, stole twenty votive offerings from the miraculous picture of Mary, and from the sacristy, the proceeds of the collections for the entire festival — about 6000 rubles.
Criminals robbed a resident of the Plungė Rayon, (Mrs.) Eugenija Janauskienė, cruelly torturing her. Zigmas Mockevičius drove them in a government veterinary vehicle to the scene of the crime. Forcing their victim to sit on the heating elements of the stove (the muscles burned through to the bone), the burglars demanded gold. They made off with 476 rubles and a 10-ruble gold piece.
From citizen Bacevičius, residing in the Mažeikiai Rayon, they stole 1000 rubles and other items.
Coming at night to the dwelling of Semėnas, a resident of the Village of Žvingai in the Rayon of Šilalė, burglars demanded gold. They tortured Semėnas so severely that he went blind and deaf (his eyeball was ruptured from a blow to the face). They broke his ribs, lacerated his face and chest with a glass cutter, tore out his fingernails, stabbed his armpits, tied a rope around his neck , and threatened to hang him. Antanas Kairys particularly outdid the others in cruelty.
The accused Zigmas and Danielius Mockevičius affirmed that they had been told about Žvingai Village resident Semėnas by Prei-bys, already known from the murder case of Father Šapoka — he had wanted to buy a gold coin from Semėnas, but they had not agreed on a price. During the trial, Preibys was not summoned to take part, even as a witness.
During the trial, the culprits were especially zealously defended by Attorney Jankauskas, earlier a staff member of the Office of the Council for Religious Affairs. When the prosecutor stated that everyone in the courtroom was quite scandalized by the horrible actions of the culprits, Attorney Jankauskas retorted, "Who can be scandalized? Just the faithful!"
In order that those on trial would not have to be punished for their dark deeds, Attorney Jankauskas tried to convince the court that the votive offerings stolen from the church of Žemaičių Kalvarija belonged neither to the church nor the state, and there could not have been much money in the church, since, in his opinion, the number of believers decreases annually.
The culprits were sentenced: Zigmas Mockevičius, born 1954, a CANDIDATE FOR MEMBERSHIP IN THE CPSU, participant in the October 9, 1980 murder of Father Leonas Šapoka as the instigator, but found innocent by the court—acknowledged to be psychotic. This time, he was sentenced to 7.5 years of deprivation of freedom. (Among other things, when Zigmas Mockevičius during the course of testimony mentioned the events at Luokė, the judge cut him off, saying, "You didn't take part, so don't even mention it!")
Danielius Mockevičius, born 1961, A COMMUNIST YOUTH LEAGUE MEMBER, had earlier been sentenced to fifteen years in prison for the murder of Father Šapoka, but went unpunished for the crimes under consideration at this trial, since his sentence was not increased.
Antanas Kairys, born 1957 — 8 years deprivation of freedom.
Alvydas Butkus, born 1961 — 5.5 years deprivation of freedom.
Kapčiamiestis (Lazdijai Rayon)
To: USSR Commissioner for Religious Affairs, V.A. Kuroyedov From: The Believers of Kapčiamiestis and Šlavantai, Rayon of Lazdijai, Lithuania SSR
On September 30, 1982, along the roads in our parish, persons inspired by the Lazdijai Rayon segurity organs, with the help of the militia (not for the first time), knocked down three crosses. At the same time, five other crosses were demolished in other locations in Lazdijai Rayon. The crosses, cut up in pieces, were thrown into dump truck and hauled off for incineration, while the metal crosses were thrown into dams.
We believers, for whom the cross is a support and hope in life have been preserving them as most precious relics from as far back as 1387. We wear the cross around our neck, we hang it on the walls of our homes, erect it for the dead, and adorn our properties and roadsides with them. These beautiful corsses of great artistic worth are part of our nation's cultural heritage. In the crosses and shrines, artists express our nation's entire spiritual dynamism; therefore, in their beauty, they can compare with masterpieces of architecture and painting.
However, from the very reestablishment of the Soviet regime in Lithuania, not only have churches been demolished and closed, but wayside crosses have been knocked down and destroyed on a massive scale. This barbaric work of the atheists, perpetrated with the knowledge of the USSR Council of Ministers continues today, even though since 1967, the program for the creation of Communism emphasizes creation of a collective of highly sensitive people, based on humanism and democracy.
Painfully experiencing the tragedy of the demolition of wayside crosses, we read your booklet, published in Moscow in 1982, Religion and the Church in the Soviet State", in which, on page 206, you write: "The Soviet Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and the local government is correctly guarding the principles of Basic Law." On page 154, you nobly affirm: "The preservation of rights of Soviet citizens, and the further solidification of law is a very serious condition of the Soviet democracy. We can state unequivocally that in our country, everything is done to implement complete freedom of conscience."
Knowing the many instances of violations of the rights of believers in school, at work and in private life, you do not have any right to talk about complete freedom of conscience. Such statements can be intended only for foreign journalists, and not for us believers.
After all, the decision of the 1982 Fifth Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Lithuania to strengthen ideological, political, atheistic education according to the decisions of XXVI Convention of the CPSU set forth in a speech during the XXVII Convention of USSR professional unions is nothing short of open warfare against the Church, making use of any and all means to undermine people's religion and employing force to instill a materialistic worldview. We believers, on the basis of:
- V.I. Lenin's January 23, 1918 Decree, "On the separation of Church and State, and School from Church".
- Par. 13 of Lenin's 1918 Constitution, Par. 52, 34, 39, 5 of the present USSR Constitution,
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
- The International Pact on Human Rights, and
- The Helsinki Final Accord, DEMAND:
... a guarantee that government organs would strictly adhere to the laws mentioned above, and would not allow atheism, as a private worldview, to interfere in the Church's internal affairs and affairs of the believers' conscience;
. . . the forbidding and the discountinuing of barbaric actions: the destruction of crosses throughout Lithuania;
. . . the discovery and punishment of the wreckers of crosses in the Lazdijai Rayon, and their instigators;
... a guarantee that the erection of artistic crosses and wayside shrines will not be hindered in our cemeteries, yards, along roadsides without impairing visibility in traffic, such as various artistic roof-shrines.
Kapčiamiestis Signed by 233 believers Šlavantai Signed by 281 believers
October 24, 1982