In the confidential Information Bulletin, Nr. 1, for this year (1983), Secretary Petras Griškevičius of the Communist Party of Lithuania speaks about practical problems in the struggle against "clerical extremism" and about Party organization tasks in educating the people of the republic in atheism.
The Party leader first gives a general overview of the Church in Lithuania. He rejoices over the fact that many of the clergy are loyal to the government. However, there are a number who are extremist in their attitudes, who try to draw other priests to their side, especially the young ones. The general tone for these ideological diversions is set by the Vatican.
The Party Secretary especially attacked Pope John Paul II for his constant sympathy for the Church in Lithuania. He mentioned that many priests come from abroad and try to bring unfriendly literature into Lithuania. They have even bought Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Father Sigitas Tamkevičius and other priests small automobiles.
He did not spare angry words for the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, either. They allegedly promote the writing of all sorts of petitions and disobedience to the Regulations for Religious Associations.
"The priests of the Diocese of Telšiai have declared that they cannot keep Soviet laws regarding cult, since these are contrary to the Gospel and to the spirit of Vatican Decrees. We have enough means to guarantee law and order! There would be no compromise or concessions here! We need only to unmask in time the organizers of collective letters."
The Party leader had much to say about religious festivals, processions to Šiluva, the Hill of Crosses and other shrines, and demanded that any new traditions be immediately abolished.
"You are not to make any compromise with the training of secret priests who have no permission to work, but get involved in 'pastoral activity'. They are to be considered vagrants!"
He urged the dissolving of diocesan priests' committees (Priests' Councils — Ed. Note), declaring them illegal.
"The monitoring of sermons must be stepped up, and measures must be taken against priests propagating anti-Communism. When priests who are warned do not come to a proper conclusion, sterner measures are to be taken. Their registration card must be taken from them.
"In every work collective, an atmosphere of hatred must be fostered toward extremist-oriented priests. OUR AIM MUST BE TO HAVE EVEN BELIEVERS BE SCANDALIZED BY THE SERMONS OF ANTI-SOVIET PRIESTS."
The lecturer further complained, "It is downright embarrassing to say that about three thousand children are involved in religious activities. This is a serious offense!" The Party leader gave instructions to fight the harder in an effort to attract children away from religious ceremonies.
Griškevičius gave much attention to the problem of convents and monasteries. In his opinion, there are in Lithuania 1.5 thousand religious women, who must be neutralized so that they would not have any influence on their social setting.
On November 5, 1983, the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis, presented Stanislovas Puidokas, associate pastor of the church in Naujoji Vilnija, a warning as follows:
"On Octover 30, 1983, the Vilnius Associate Pastor Father Stanislovas Puidokas held services at Aušros Vartai (Shrine of Our Lady of the Dawn Gate), delivered a non-religious sermon, disin-formed believers and thus violated Par. 19 of the Regulations for Religious Associations: 'Activities of ministers of cult are restricted to the area where the members of the religious association reside, and by the location of the house of prayer.' He is therefore warned that in the future, for violations of the Regulations, he will be suitably punished." The warning was signed by Religious Affairs Commissioner Petras Anilionis.
Father Puidokas did not acknowledge the warning in writing, since Aušros Vartai is a national Lithuanian Shrine, everyone may offer Mass there, and the sermon is an integral part of the Mass. In the sermon, some thoughts concerning the trial of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas were quoted from an article in the newspaper Tiesa (May 7) entitled, "Nuteistas už įstatymų pažeidimus" ("Sentenced for breaking the law").
The Commissioner considers that a great crime.
Plateliai (Rayon of Plungė)
During the night of October 7, 1983, unknown culprits broke into the church in Plateliai and tore out the tabernacles from the two side altars. They tried also to tear out the tabernacle from the main altar, but were unable to, since it is sheathed in steel. The burglars took from the side altar an old, artistically gold-plated reliquary.
Švenčionėliai (Rayon of Švenčioniai)
On November 26, 1983, at 7:00 PM, in the church of Švenčionėliai, services were being held for the deceased of the parish, and for Father Bronius Laurinavičius (the second anniversary of his death). The rayon government requested in advance that there be no mention of the anniversary of Father Laurinavičius death. Priests and faithful came to the church in Švenčionėliai that day, unbidden. Holy Mass was concelebrated by the Pastor of Švenčioniai, Father Kazimieras Gailius, Father Kazimieras Žemėnas and Father Aldas Čeponis. The sermon was delivered by Father Jonas Lauriūnas.
Immediately after the services, the pastor, Father Gailius, was summoned to the rayon offices. Here, they accused him of not carrying out the "contract". They accused him of inviting the priests, asked him where the girls in folk costume came from, and why he allowed
Father Jonas Boruta, who had completed the seminary illegally, to celebrate Mass. (Father Boruta offered Mass after all the services, when the faithful had almost finished dispersing.)
Garliava (Rayon) of Kaunas)
On Sunday, October 30, 1983, during the principal Mass, prayers were recited for Garliava resident Mrs. Jadvyga Bieliauskienė who had been arrested a year ago, and is now in prison. The evening before, some people introduced themselves to Monsignor Andrius Gustaitis by telephone as militia officers, and declared that they knew that a gathering was being organized, and at the same time, expressed great surprise that Mass could be offered for a living person. During the Mass, the sermon was delivered by Monsignor Gustaitis. After services, the entire congregation, together with Father Jonas Boruta, recited the rosary for the prisoners.
Pagramantis (Rayon of Tauragė)
On August 15, 1983, in the church of Pagramantis, for the second year, services of reparation took place for the desecration of the Blessed Sacrament. Well before the ceremonies, the Vice Chairwoman of the Tauragė Executive Committee had summoned the Chairman of the Pagramantis parish committee to sign a promise that Father Antanas Beniušis, Associate Pastor of Tauragė, would not be allowed to deliver the sermon.
During the reparation service, the rosary was recited twice for the priest-prisoners Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius. The third rosary, the believers recited while going in procession on their knees from the churchyard gates to the main altar. The procession took about forty-five minutes, with many youth and children participating. Afterwards, at 5:00 PM, Mass was offered. During the sermon, the Dean of Tauragė, Father Puzaras, urged the faithful to carry out their duties conscientiously, to defend their rights, parents to educate their children in their religion and to pray more for one another. After Mass in the churchyard, a reparation procession of the Blessed Sacrament took place. The services ended with the hymn, Marija, Marija.
Meškuičiai (Rayon of Šiauliai)
In October, 1983, a statue of the Rūpintojėlis, five meters tall, was brought to the Hill of Crosses, bearing the inscription:
"Return, Rūpintojėlis, to brood by the wayside, The withering rue will bloom beneath the cross. The Lithuanian s tearstained cheeks will shine again, And Mary's Holy Land will rise once more.
A Group of Hymn-lovers.
For lack of time and manpower (the erection of the statue requires eight men), work on the Rūpintojėlis remained unfinished that night.
On October 19, 1983, people coming to the Hill of Crosses could not find the statue. It had been cut up and hauled away somewhere. In its place the sponsors placed flowers and a small cross, tied with a bow inscribed, "On this spot, evil hands cut up the Rūpintojėlis. Lord forgive them."
On August 14, 1983, the Sacrament of Confirmation was being administered in the church of Utena. Since morning, the church was full of people; there were almost two thousand confirmands alone. The only ones disturbing the solemnity were various officials sent to the church from the Rayon Executive Committee to look around. In the churchyard, a disturbance arose when the officials fell upon those selling religious articles, seized religious pictures, rosaries and crosses from them, twisted their arms and dragged them of to the militia station.