On December 14, 1983, the leaders of all religious groups in Lithuania were summoned to Vilnius before the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis: Bishops of the Catholic Church —Bishop Liudvikas Povilonis of the Archdiocese of Kaunas and the Diocese of Vilkaviškis, Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of the Diocese of Kaišiadorys, Msgr. Kazys Dulksnys, Administrator of the Diocese of Panevėžys; Administrator of the Archdiocese of Vilnius, Algis Gutauskas. (Bishop Antanas Vaičius of the Diocese of Telšiai did not come on account of illness.) Orthodox Archbishop Viktorin, Chairman S.S. Jegorov of the Supreme Council of Old Believers and Evangelical Bishop Kaivanas.
It was suggested that they sign a text prepared in advance, on behalf of peace, condemning the Americans and exaulting General Setretary Yuri Andropov of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Bishop Povilonis and Bishop Sladkevičius rejected the prepared text, suggesting that each sign his own text. Orthodox Archbishop Viktorin and Old Believer Supreme Council Chairman Jegorov, would not agree with such a suggestion of the bishops, and refused. Then Anilionis suggested that they sign a more tactful document.
In September, 1983, Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of Kaišiadorys was summoned before Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis, and scolded for ordaining Janis Sutkevičius to the priesthood. "There is a seminary in Kaunas for that. Let him enroll, and he will be ordained. There is no other way, and there cannot be," Anilionis lectured the Bishop.
It is known that an underground group of the Catholic Comit-tee for the Defense of Believers' Rights has begun to function. It will continue the work begun by the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights which had operated in the open. With the development of difficult circumstances on account of KGB repressions and threats, the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights cannot operate out in the open, because as was forseen in establishing this committee, the attention of Soviet agencies will be directed to the facts surrounding discrimination against believers by anonymous documents.
The underground group of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights has written protests, e.g., Document No. 2, to the Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Chernenko, on account of the conduct of officials, January 21, 1984, in the Butkevičius apartment in Kaunas; January 26 and 29 in Raseiniai and Viduklė and on January 28 of that same year in Kapsukas, at the apartment of Genovaitė Navickaitė.
In Document No. 3, they protest against efforts by Soviet officials to down-grade and interfere with the commemoration of the Jubilee of Saint Casimir in Vilnius, and throughout Lithuania.
Last fall, in the journal, Soviet Life, and afterwards, in the American Lithuanian Communist newspaper, Laisvė, there appeared an interview with the Pastor of Alytus, Father Pranas Račiūnas. Strictly speaking, the interview contained no untruth, however, since it gave only a small part of the truth about the plight of the Church in Lithuania, keeping quiet about its actual painful plight, it is impossible to call this interview honest.
Father Račiūnas says that, "We still do everything according to
Catholic tradition", sermons are given, the Sacrament of Matrimony is conferred, and the sick are visited. But Catholic tradition requires much more. It includes the catechization of children, pastoral visitation of the faithful ("kalėdojimas"), the All Souls' procession to the cemetery, etc. The interview keeps quiet about the fact that for the carrying out of these traditions, priests are brought to trial fined and given official reprimands. Father Račiūnas says that "There is a church committee", but will the foreign reader understand that an attempt is being made to turn that committee into a means of permitting the atheists to intervene in purely church affairs?
Further on, Father Račiūnas states, "We are carrying out liturgical reforms according to the Decrees of Vatican II." However, is it not taking too long? Other Catholic nations have done so somewhat more quickly. Such a situation in Lithuania developed, not without an assist from the atheists. Father Račiūnas contradicts himself, claiming that the religious community lives and operates normally, "however, there is not much believing youth".
Can there be any talk of normal existence for the religious community when the atheists interfere in all sorts of ways in the internal life of the Church, prevent parents from bringing up their children as Catholics, when Vice Chairman Ignotas of the Supreme Court officially affirms in a television program that the Church has no right to assume the functions of educating youth or adults? Foreign readers are disinformed also by the photographs accomp-nying the interview where one can see Father Račiūnas in church, with a group of children —servers and adorers. This time the atheist journalists "forgot" to remind the readers that according to the Regulations for Religious Associations, children and youth are forbidden to participate actively in Church life: to serve at Mass, to adore before the Blessed Sacrament, and that the children and youth seen in the picture are "breaking" those laws, something for which they can be terrorized in school and often by the Security Police.
As for the exterior view of the church in Alytus with a group of peddlers of religious objects (as though this were officially allowed)... how hypocritical that is when one remembers that same summer of 1983, Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anili-onis, demanded in the form of an ultimatum, that the bishops and diocesan administrators of Lithuania drive such peddlers from the churchyards (they are the only possible source for the faithful to obtain religious articles).
It is a lie, not only when untruth is spoken directly; it is also a lie when the truth, painful and concrete truth, is suppressed.
Šatės (Skuodas Rayon)
On November 20, 1983, the Administrative Committee attached to the Executive Committee of the Skuodas Rayon, made up of members (Mrs.) Lepeckienė, Kulis, (Mrs.) Lauciuvienė, (Mrs.) Bukauskienė and Siečkus, accused the Pastor of the parish of Šatės, Father Vincentas Senkus, of organizing on November 1, a procession of the faithful from the church to the cemetery, and fined him fifty rubles. Father Senkus, feeling that he was unjustly punished (he did not organize any procession, but only reminded the faithful twice from the pulpit that all should gather in the cemetery to pray for the deceased), took the decision of the Administrative Committee to the Peoples' Court of the Skuodas Rayon, to have it set aside.
On December 27, 1983, in Skuodas, in the courtroom with no spectators present, a trial took place consisting of the Judge, A.Gailiūnas, two assistants, a prosecutor, the representative of the Rayon Executive Committee and the Court Secretary, reaffirming the decision of the Administrative Committee. When Father Senkus took an interest in the names of those constituting the court, Judge Gailiūnas explained that the plaintiff had no reason to know, and the prosecutor added that the pastor needed to know the actual makeup of the court, only so that he might report it to the Vatican.
The pastor of the church in Alytus, Father Pranas Račiūnas, and his Associate, Father Antanas Gražulis, received, after a children's Christmas party arranged in the churchyard, a notice from the Executive Committee, as follows:
Administrative Case No. 13
Decision January 5, 1984
The Administrative Committee attached to the Executive Committee of Council of Peoples' Deputies of the City of Alytus:
Chairwoman - (Mrs.) B. Butvilienė Secretary - (Mrs.) A. Žėlienė Members - (Mrs.) A. Petraitienė (Mrs.) J. Šmičienė
having considered in public session Administrative Case No. 13, has decided that Pranas Račiūnas, son of Jurgis, pastor, and his associate, on December 25, 1983, at about 7:30 PM, in the churchyard of the house of prayer, transmitted services over the loudspeaker, and thus, disturbed the peace for neighboring residents. The decision of the Council of the City of Alytus, March 24, 1984, in accordance with the regulations for assigning and collecting fines, confirmed by order of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR, January 19, 1982, has decided:
To charge citizens Pranas Račiūnas, son of Jurgis, and Antanas Gražulis, son of Antanas, an administrative fine of ten rubles. This decision, a copy of which will be presented to the offender within ten days, he has a right to appeal to the People's Court of the Rayon of Alytus.
Simnas (Alytus Rayon)
During the Christmas holidays, 1983, in the church of Simnas, preparations were being made for a Christmas party. After an announcement was made from the pulpit concerning the holiday, the priests of the parish, Father Juozas Matulevičius, the pastor, and his associate, Father Juozas Gražulis, were summoned by Vice Chairman Makštutis of the Alytus Rayon Executive Committee. Vice Chairman Makštutis and Finance Chairman Starnavičius demanded that there be no Christmas parties held in church.
On December 22, Vice Chairman Makštutis repeatedly summoned the parish priests to the Simnas Executive Committee, and in the presence of the Secretary, Mrs Šlemfuktienė, presented them with an advance warning in writing, the burden of which was that the youth should not participate in the Christmas party program, should not serve at Mass, and should not sing in the church choir. When the priests refused to sign the warning, Vice Chairman Makštutis threatened to turn everything over to the Commissioner for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis.
On December 26, 1983, after the principal Mass in the church of Simnas, with a great many of the faithful, youth and children in attendance, a Christmas party was held during which Santa Claus greeted everyone on the Birthday of the Infant Jesus, and distributed little gifts to the children.
Pilviškiai (Vilkaviškis Rayon)
On March 12, 1984, the Pastor of the parish of Pilviškiai, Father Gvidonas Dovidaitis, was summoned to the Procurator's Office of the Vilkaviškis Rayon. Here, the Assistant Prosecutor, P. Bagušauskas, accused the priest of breaking the laws for religious cult. The prosecutor stated that on the occasion of the Feast of Saint Casimir, March 4, the priest allegedly urged the faithful during a sermon to resist the godless Russians. Father Dovidaitis rejected such an accusation as fabricated. Also considered as a crime were the announcements read that day, reminding everyone that the faithful should not break the Ash Wednesday fast, or drink too much, since Ash Wednesday this year fell on the eve of March 8.
In his announcements, the priest explained that in his opinion, the faithful would do better to greet their mothers on Mothers' Day, the first Sunday in May, something which also angered Prosecutor Bagušauskas. The Assistant Prosecutor was also displeased by a skit presented by the young people in honor of Saint Casimir, in which they briefly presented the life of Saint Casimir, recited a few poems and sang a few hymns. The prosecutor wanted to know who had prepared the children and young people, and became very angry when the priest told them that no one prepared them especially, it happened spontaneously.
"Nothing happens spontaneously!" the prosecutor raised his voice.
"When I went to Soviet school, it was hammered into me all the time that even the world materialized spontaneously. If the world, according to you, could happen this way, then why do you not want to believe that such a small, simple thing like a skit could not originate spontaneously," explained Father Dovidaitis.
Prosecutor Bagušauskas was bothered that the priest, having discovered that that day there were special government spies in all the churches, announced it to the faithful during his sermon. At the end of the conversation, the prosecutor wrote up an explanation in the priest's name. Father Dovidaitis refused to sign it, arguing that in the Soviet Union, the signatures of believers have no significance. "Thousands of people signed in behalf of the falsely arrested priests, Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius, but no one reacted to that, and those who signed only drew the displeasure of the government," said Father Dovidaitis.
Prosecutor Bagušauskas read Father Dovidaitis an official warning, in which he was threatened with Article 143 of the Criminal Code for similar incidents in the future. Father Dovidaitis also refused to sign this warning. The conversation lasted about an hour.
Paberžė (Vilnius Rayon)
On March 15, 1984, Lawyer Olšauskas visited the pastor of Paberžė, Father Donatas Valiukonis, and in the presence of a witness he had brought, who did not know a word of Lithuanian, read him a warning in which it was indicated that on January 29, D. Valiukonis celebrated Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Dawn Gate in Vilnius (He presided at the services marking the transfer of the rosary—Ed. Note), and thus, violated Article 19 of the Regulations for Religious Associations. Lawyer Olšauskas warned the priest that if this does not stop, the government will take drastic measures. Father Valiukonis explained that the Gate of Dawn is a shrine for all Lithuania, and all priests have the right to offer Mass there. The aforesaid Regulations were not compatible with a priest's conscience, and a conscientious priest cannot keep them. "New regulations are being prepared, which will be stricter. Don't wait for any break," Olšauskas shot back.
On February 15, 1984, the church committee of the Gate of Dawn was summoned to the Vilnius Executive Committee headquarters. Government officials demanded that only priests of Vilnius hold services in connection with the transfer of the rosary.
On January 26, 1984, many of the faithful from all over Lithuania travelled to Viduklė to pray for Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights member and pastor of the parish of Viduklė, Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, arrested a year prior, and imprisoned in the Perm Camp.
At about 10:00 AM, in the Raseiniai Bus Station, a militia official boarded the bus from Kaunas to Klaipėda, and ordered everyone going to Viduklė to transfer to a little local bus standing by. When iravellers inquired about the reason for the transfer, the official explained that a great theft had taken place, and so everyone
Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, Pastor of Viduklė and Charter Member of the Catholic Committee for the Defense of Believers' Rights, was sentenced in May, 1983, to seven years in labor camp and three years of internal exile.
going to Viduklė had to he checked. A murmur travelled the length of the bus: "A theft took place, and for some reason or other, they have to check people riding to Viduklė!"
When they refused to disembark, the bus with all the travellers aboard was directed to the Raseiniai Militia Department, and those going to Viduklė were repeatedly ordered to disembark. The conductor checked the tickets and people were forced to leave the bus.
About ten people were disembarked, among them, Father Svarinskas' sister, with her son.
When the questioning started, Official Matulevičius made notes from the passports, asking for what purpose those detained were going to Viduklė. Later, the Raseiniai Militia Chief conducted a similar interrogation. In his office, women had their handbags searched. From the Chiefs office, people were taken one by one to another office. Here, one of the militia workers said that, "In this comedy, the militia was not taking part." He explained that the local government had long wracked their brains, asking themselves, "What to do with that anniversary of Father Svarinskas' arrest?" Finally, at about 1:00 PM, the Chief came and let the people go. Those released were determined to attain the goal of their journey, Viduklė, and there, to pray for Father Alfonsas Svarinskas.
Passersby in the bus station asked one another what had happened, that they were unable to go to Viduklė. Automobiles were being stopped along the road, and there was militia everywhere.
That day, parishioners and guests from various places in Lithuania gathered in the church of Viduklė to pray for the arrested pastor. At 1:00 PM, nine priests concelebrated Mass at the main altar. During Mass, Father Jonas Lauriūnas delivered the sermon. Father Leonas Kalinauskas spoke briefly to the faithful. In his talk, he emphasized the duty of praying for prisoners, reminding those gathered of the Christmas visit of Pope John Paul to the prison and his conversations with the prisoners. After Mass, the public Way of the Cross was celebrated, with Father Petras Našlėnas presiding.
On Sunday, January 29, 1984, in Viduklė, services on the anniversary of the arrest of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas again took place. The people, fearing lest they would again have to spend the time of the services at the militia station, came to Viduklė early in the morning. Since many people from Šiauliai bought tickets to Viduklė, the bus from Šiauliai to Kaunas was cancelled.
After the principal Mass, some of the people and Father Svarinskas' relatives and friends, dropped in on Father Svarinskas' former housekeeper, Miss Monika Gavenaitė, to warm up and refresh themselves for the journey. Hardly had they started to eat when militia and KGB burst into the little house where Miss Gavenaitė lives. Among them were area Chairman Kringelis, Teacher Mockus, and militia officials Butkus and Mackevičius. The process of terrorizing the faithful, customary in Lithuania, began under the guise of checking the pasports and identification. Those who did not have passports with them, the officials took away to the militia department. Just so the people being herded into the officials' automobiles would not get any ideas about escaping, militiamen walked about in the neighboring yards. One of the offenders was barely four years old! The people of Viduklė, watching this sight, wept and prayed the rosary aloud in the churchyard.
At about 5:00 PM, January 28, 1984, a small group of believing children and young adults came from Kybartai to the home of Kapsukas resident (Miss) Genovaitė Navickaitė, at Alyvų la. That day, youth from all over Lithuania gathered in Marijampolė (Marijampolė, originally named after the Blessed Virgin Mary, was renamed Kapsukas in honor of one of the early Lithuanian Communists. —Trans. Note) to pray at the tomb of Archbishop Jurgis Matulevičius. The youngsters asked to be allowed to warm themselves because they had gotten cold on the journey, and there were still a couple of hours left until Mass. The children had not yet finished warming themselves when a group of uniformed militia and officials in civilian dress forced their way into the house. Without even telling the lady of the house who they were, the officials demanded to be shown where there were some sort of truant children. They ordered the doors of the room to be unlocked, but the lady of the house had no keys. Then the officials broke down the door and forced their way into the room where the youth and the children were sitting quite peacefully. Having forced their way in, the officials took down the names of the children who had come, walked about all of the rooms, inspected the bathroom and a little storeroom.
Finding a typewriter, they turned on the lady in charge of the house, Miss Navickaitė: "Where did you get it? Is it registered? Do you have the papers? What do you do with it?" They immediately wrote up a report which they pressured Miss Navickaitė to sign, but when she refused, the KGB agents themselves signed. Afterwards, they discovered yet another typewriter. Not content with their find, the KGB agents poked about in the suitcases, handbags and baskets of Miss Navickaitė and other residents of the house. When they found books of a religious nature, they would list them in a separate report. Officials threatened Miss Navickaitė that if she continued to live so, she would again end up in camp.
Genovaitė Navickaitė served two years in labor camp for allegedly duplicating and disseminating the "Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania".
Having loaded their van and herded the children into a bus specially prepared for them, the officials left for the City of Kapsukas Police Station. Here, the children were kept under the charge of the militia officials, and one-by-one, summoned to separate offices where their names, addresses and parents' places of employment were taken down again.
Militia captain Jotauta and other officials threatened the children in all sorts of ways, and forbade them to sing, saying that they would soon be crying. None explained to those who were detained what they were held for, what they were accused of, or how long they would be held. At about 10:00 PM, the questioning was ended and the officials announced that the children could go home only when their parents came. Thus, the children stayed at the militia station until midnight, and some of them until 1:30 AM (when their parents came).
The parents who came were ordered to write explanations, but they refused, demanding an explanation in writing of what all this meant: why their children had been held, why they are not allowed, with their parents' permission, to go to another church or to visit, for what reason the children were threatened and held at night at the militia station? The officials tried to make excuses, saying that they knew nothing, that Communist Party representatives told them to act that way.
Miss Genovaitė Navickaitė, on account of unjustified actions on the part of officials, has written a petition to the Prosecutor of Lithuania, a copy of which she has sent to the Prosecutor for the City of Kapsukas. In the petition, Miss Navickaitė explained the circumstances in which possessions of hers were taken: an Optima typewriter, books—Knyga vienuoliems (A Book for Nuns), Vienuolio gyvenimo esmė (The Essence of Religious Life), two brochures of a religious nature—and demanded that everything be returned.
On February 3, 1984, the Prosecutor for the City of Kapsukas visited Miss Navickaitė at home to ascertain the facts. He examined the broken door-lock, looked about the rooms and after that drew up a report, and stating that it was still unclear how everything would end, he left.
On February 13, 1984, Miss Navickaitė was summoned to Kapsukas Militia Headquarters, where she was informed that Administrative proceedings had been brought against her, and that she would have to write an explanation of her actions. Miss Navickaitė, arguing that she had committed no crime, and therefore, could not understand what she could be punished for, refused to write the explanation. Then the officials drew up a report and told her to sign it. In the report, the events of January 28 were described in a manner completely contrary to fact: "Nobody broke in the door; rather with a hard pull, it opened of itself. The lady of the house, Miss Navickaitė, insulted the militiamen, and the educators who had come with them..."
Miss Navickaitė refused to sign such a report. Militia Captain Juotota began to shout and to threaten that if she did not sign, she would suffer for it considerably. After taking her around several offices, the officials led Miss Navickaitė before a judge who inquired why she received seventeen children and youths in her home on January 28.
When it was explained that the children wanted to warm up and rest, the judge sternly said that the children should have been chased out, and sentenced Miss Navickaitė to ten days in jail.
The cell in which Miss Navickaitė served her sentence was small, and without any ventilation at all. Daylight never reached the cell. Over the door was a small electric light which burned day and night. In the same cell was a toilet. The cell was inhumanly hot and stuffy. In the same cell with her were at different times, two or three female criminals, who smoked constantly in the cell. During the day, Miss Navickaitė was almost never taken to work, so she was forced to sit in the unventilated cell. They gave her no sheets or blankets. She had to sleep on the bare floor which was permeated with stench, or on her own coat.
Mornings and evenings, she had to clean the offices. Several times, militia officials tried to make fun of Miss Navickaitė, saying, "This isn't like cleaning a church." More than once, coming to the cell, they made fun of her and on Sunday, while Mass was going on in church, she was ordered to clean office windows.
On February 23, at the end of her sentence, the judge warned Miss Navickaitė that if she refused to unlock her doors for the militia, once again she would be sentenced to several years in prison.
On February 24, 1984, Miss Navickaitė received a communication as follows:
"In response to your petition written to the Inter-Rayon Prosecutor of Kapsukas, concerning unauthorized actions by Division of Internal Affairs Staff of the Kapsukas City Rayon, we wish to inform you:
"We refuse to institute criminal proceedings against the Division of Internal Affairs Staff of the Kapsukas City Rayon, since there was in their actions no grounds."
R. Januška, Lawyer
Assistant Inter-Rayon Prosecutor For Kapsukas
During the summer of 1982, the father of Director Lileikis of the Šilalė Rayon Department of Education died. Since the deceased was a believer, he was buried in a Catholic ceremony according to his wishes. Participating in all the religious services was the son of the deceased, Director Lileikis of the Department of Education. For this "shameless crime", he was discharged from his duties with the Department of Education. Later, also, those rayon school principals who, in order to honor the deceased had brought wreaths to the funeral or were pall-bearers, were interrogated.
During 1983, Principal Jančiauskas, of Kaunas Middle School No. 26 was invited to a wedding as "matchmaker". In church where the Sacrament of Matrimony was administered, the "matchmaker" was also present. For this "crime" Principal Jančiauskas lost his position as principal. In his workbook, they made the entry: "Discharged from work for amoral conduct."
Labūnava (Kėdainiai Rayon)
In November, 1983, Chairman Žukauskas of this district presented himself at the rectory in Labūnava, and demanded the church keys. That day, the Pastor, Father Steponas Pilka, was not at home. The little old lady acting as bell-ringer, took the keys and admitted the chairman into church. To the surprise of the bell-ringer, Area Chairman Žukauskas went to the bulletin board and tearing off the picture of Father Alfonsas Svarinskas with his brief biography, left the church.
Kabeliai (Varėna Rayon)
In January and February, 1984, the pension of the father of the Pastor of Kabeliai, Father Vytautas Pūkas, was withheld because he used to assist his son at Mass. Only when a complaint was written to the Division of Social Security was the embargoed pension paid out.