The June 22, 1983 edition of Kauno tiesa (Kaunas Truth) printed Bronius Jauniškis' "Open Letter of an Atheist: 'I Do Not Fear Calumny' ", which ELTA (ELTA, from LTA, acronymic for "Lietuvos Telegramų Agentūra"— the Lithuanian Telegraph Agency. The name was taken over, along with the agency, at the time of the Soviet occupation. Not to be confused with ELTA Information Agency, sponsored by the Lithuanian National Foundation, in the free world. — Trans. Note) later sent out to newspapers of the various rayons, after changing the title to, "I Do Not Fear Blackmail". In this as in other articles by Jauniškis, there are many distortions and lies.
1. "I do not fear calumny," writes Jauniškis. I wholeheartedly concur with this statement on his part. Jauniškis really has no reason to fear calumny, since no one is calumniating him. Only HE IS CONSTANTLY CALUMNIATING OTHERS, AND WRITING UNTRUTHS.
2. In the beginning of his article, Jauniškis asserts that he grew up "in a very religious family". Is that so? You only have a very religious family when both parents are truly religious, not like those in the Jauniškis family, where one pulls in one direction and the other in another: The mother is religious, but the father is a complete liberal, or even an atheist, so it would be just as correct to call the Jauniškis family completely irreligious.
3. Jauniškis writes, "I joined the Salesian Order". Jauniškis DID NOT JOIN the order; he was with the Salesians only as a candidate-tailor, called "the little tailor", and he went to elementary school. One joins a religious order only when one begins the novitiate, and a true religious is one who makes his vows. Jauniškis was not in the novitiate for even a single day, he made no vows— this is confirmed by his sponsor, Father J. Žemaitis It is admitted by Jauniškis himself in his letter that he was just a candidate, and not a religious. Nevertheless, in his sketch, "Dievo praradimas" ("The Loss of God"), he affirms that he had made his vows and in 1940, when the system changed, he tried to receive a papal dispensation from his vows ("Žmonės su abitais"— "People in Habits", pp 47, 48). So here the real Jauniškis appears: He writes what was convenient for him at that time, without regard for the truth.
Oh how good it would be if Jauniškis really had written the truth, without seizing on lies, calumny or deceit. Everything that he had written about Juozas Misiūnas is lies and deceit. (See Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, Nos. 47, 52 — Trans. Note).
Jauniškis does not even know where Silesia is. He transfers it to Holland, and pictures that land in fantasy. He finds there rocky hills, of which there are none in Holland, and stone windmills to pump water, such as the Dutch never erect. He sees mounted police dispersing a meeting of atheists, without knowing that Holland is a democratic country, and various parties, without interference from anyone, freely convene meetings.
Misiūnas himself, according to Jauniškis, goes to that Dutch Silesia and performs an outright miracle: Without studying the Dutch language, he freely communicates with local Dutch people, and having heard a speech of the atheist leader Minauris in The Hague, he feels the desire to show him up, but he is afraid that he will not be able to speak as well. Because he did not outpoint Minauris, Misiūnas was tied to a post and scourged to the point of unconsciousness and blindness. Afterwards, he was sent to Kaunas where Kipp met him coldly and, threatening to lock him up in solitary confinement, ordered him to write a request for a dispensation from the order. Misiūnas wrote it, and barely seeing the light of day, he left the monastery.
IN THAT ENTIRE STORY, THERE IS NOT A BIT OF TRUTH, but only fabrications and calumnies. That Jauniškis is a master of fabrications was indicated by the Communist writer Julius Butėnas: "It is well that Bronius Jauniškis wants to remember his former professors and teachers with a good word, but it is deceitful, SINCE THOSE TRIPS ARE IMAGINARY... Working on memories, one would think at least somewhat about truth and logic." (Literatūra ir menas— Literature and Art, 1983, Nr. 49)
As in other articles, so especially in this one, there is neither truth nor logic, but only shameless imagination, and it is very strange that editors and publishers do not wish to notice these vulgar mistakes of Jauniškis. Hence, the thought spontaneously occurs to us, as to Jauniškis, that the worse one writes about religious representatives, the better. But this is embarassing to Lithuanian letters, and a disservice to the readers when they are fed such trash and constantly deceived.
Let us pause for a moment at least at these lapses in logic. The level of Jauniškis' education is indicated by the fact that he does not know where Silesia is, while the editors and publishers could care less where it is. It is important just to criticize as horribly as possible persons who are not acceptible to them.
a. Since Silesia is not in Holland, but in the Germany of those days, Misiūnas himself, therefore, could not have seen windmills there for pumping water, since there is rather too little than too much dampness in Silesia.
b. Juozas Misiūnas has never been in Holland, so he could not have seen the Dutch atheist leader from the Hague, Minauris, who presided over the atheists' meeting, and for failure to criticize whom, Misiūnas was given a drastic punishment, "rendiconte".
c. Since Misiūnas never saw Minauris and never heard his talk, it follows that he could not have criticized his talk, so that he could not have been punished, and so he could not have been blinded.
d. Since he was not injured, therefore, he was not immiediately returned to Kaunas, but remained for a whole year in Mittelstein to study languages and to prepare for philosophical studies.
e. Since he really returned to Kaunas a year later and since his eyes were well and he had not committed any offense, he did not have to write any request to be released from the order, but was assigned as Director-Prefect of one section of a dormitory at the Jesuit Preparatory School in Kaunas.
Moreover, so far as I have been able to ascertain, none of the Jesuits has ever known or been able to ascertain what the word "rendiconte" means. Such a punishment in which one would be tied to a post and painfully scourged, no one has ever experienced. They are "Author Bronius Jauniškis' "spontaneous creation" —a pro-duet of his imagination.
When a year later (1943), the question of Misiūnas' studies was once again being considered, Misiūnas, afraid of a seven-year course of studies, began trying to get out of it, and to excuse himself by saying that he had not wished to enter the order, and that he had entered only because he thought that it was his duty, since for four years, his education and upkeep had been paid. He was then told that he was in the wrong place, that no one was obliged to enter religious life, and that vows made under duress were not binding.
Receiving a dispensation from vows, Misiūnas left the order in the summer of 1934, with his eyes in perfect condition and according to the best witness, his wife, Sofia Misiūnienė, Juozas Misiūnas during the next twenty-one years, that is until 1955, had no eye problem. Hence, MISIŪNAS WAS NOT EXPLOITED: He lived with the Jesuits for eight years, of which seven were spent in studies, and he worked one. He arrived having finished just four grades of elementary school; while here, he finished junior college.
In Pagražuvis and in Mittelstein, he studied Latin and German, and without delay, was able to teach Latin, German and French in junior college.
Nor was Juozas Stankaitis exploited: He came to the Jesuits at the end of 1934, having finished barely two classes of preparatory school. While in the order, he finished preparatory school, and two years of philosophy. Leaving the order in 1944, the fall of that same year, he was already appointed director of the preparatory school in Šiluva. As he was leaving the Jesuit house at Pagražuvis in the beginning of June, Stankaitis, with tears in his eyes, gratefully said, "I will always be grateful to the order, since I have attained everything only thanks to the Society of Jesus."
Later, he wrote to me from Šiluva, rejoicing that at the teachers' conference, he too had given a paper, and that his paper had been judged the best, because he had made use of works which I had lent him.
5. Jauniškis further writes, "It is laughable to hear how hypocritically the foreign radio stations try to deny the truth. For instance, in our press, much has been written about the 'pastoral' activities of the Jesuit Superior in Lithuania, Johann Kipp. In all memoirs and accounts, this fascist army officer-spy has been incontrovertably unmasked."
This, too, is completely untrue. Please tell us whose "memoirs and accounts" unmask Kipp as a fascist army officer-spy?
Every absurdity is good enough for Jauniškis, as long as he can use it to denegrate people he does not like. But even a child knows that a person who has never gone to military school, and moreover, never served in the army, cannot be an army officer. Kipp, however, finished preparatory school at the age of eighteen, and immediately entered, not military school, but the order. As a religious, he could not go to military school, since this is forbidden by Church law. During the First World War, even young clergy were mobilized: priests were assigned as military chaplains, seminarians and religious brothers as medical corpsmen in military hospitals.
That Kipp was only a chaplain and not the commander of a military unit is acknowledged even by those who set up the atheistic museum in Kaunas. There, under one photograph, is a caption: "Johann Kipp ... was a chaplain during World War I." So perhaps, those who set up the museum were also, "naive hypocrites"? Most probably not, but this title of naive hypocrite probably belongs to Bronius Jauniškis, himself.
Even more absurd is the assertion that "Kipp was a fascist army officer-spy". There is as much truth in that statement as if one were to affirm that Kipp had been a Communist army officer-spy.
Jauniškis attacks me for defending Kipp. Yes, I have defended and do defend him, Kipp, because I knew him well, I worked with him for five years, I served as vice principal under him. Moreover, I studied in the same schools in which Kipp had studied a few decades earlier. I met many people who had known him, and it never occurred to anyone to call him an army officer.
Kipp was a zealous and conscientious religious priest. In his youth, he had determined, following the example of his uncle, to be a missionary in India. After completing philosophical studies, he spent four years teaching in the Jesuit Preparatory School in
Bombay. In 1912, he returned to Europe for theological studies At the beginning of 1915, he was ordained a priest, and on February 12, he was mobilized and assigned as a military chaplain So when did he go to military school? Without military school, what kind of army officer could he be? So whose are those "memoirs and accounts which "unmask Kipp as an army officer and a fascist spy"? That Kipp was "an army officer and a fascist spy" can be claimed only by one who is utterly unconcerned for the truth.
Kipp arrived in Lithuania in July of 1923, when no one knew anything about Nazism in Germany. Kipp, like all German Jesuits, was deeply pained by the coming of the Nazis into power. Their godless worldview was known earlier, before 1933, and when they took over the government, they showed themselves to be even more bestial, not only persecuting Jews, but also the believers of their own nation. They quickly did away with all religious organizations, closed and nationalized Catholic schools and hospitals, closed most of the religious houses, gradually began abolishing the religious press, sent many of the priests off to concentration camp, and there, killed more than 4000 of them. In Dachau alone, 1120 priests perished—making it the largest priests' cemetery in the world.
Kipp himself was repatriated to Germany in the beginning of 1941, and during the war spent a long time in a Nazi prison. So when was he a fascist army officer?!
6. About Father Gustas' office, I know from other, very trustworthy persons, such as Father Bronius Bulikas of Saldutiškis, and from Father J. Žemaitis (esteemed by Bronius Jauniškis himself), worthy persons, such as Father Bronius Bulika of Saldutiškis, and whom I cannot disbelieve. Moreover, I saw only a very plainly poverty: All eat exactly the same food, dip from the same pot, and Jauniškis again writes falsehood here, for when they returned from the church, in the dining hall, "priests received coffee with milk, and sausage sandwiches; the brothers, black coffee with bread and butter sandwiches and we novices "tea with oatmeal" (Be iluzijų, Without Illusions, p. 37).
7. The same can be said for Jauniškis' annoyance at begging, parasitic religious. THERE WERE.NO BEGGING, PARASITIC RELIGIOUS IN PRE-WAR LITHUANIA. To which religious house in Eastern Lithuania could such religious belong? From the Saldutiškis Monastery, no one went begging. Neither did Jauniškis go, because HE NEVER WAS A MEMBER OF THE ORDER. "He is arrogating the title of religious to himself, when one must document one's words," Father J. Žemaitis correctly wrote. Who was lying here? Bronius Jauniškis, or his father? Bronius' father, I never knew, and to write about a stranger negatively would be unjust, but his son, Bronius, I caught in a lie many times. And not only 1, but Julius Butėnas, Father J. Žemaitis and Father Bronius Bu-lika, and so I said that Bronius' father could not have spoken of begging religious, because he really has not seen any. Besides, IN RELIGIOUS HOUSES, THERE ARE NO LOAFERS; EVERYONE THERE WORKS, AND WORKS HARD.
8. Jauniškis asks why I do not speak about the objective reasons of people described in his "Illusion", for being forced to give up religious life and suffer so much. Why, because those Jauniškis calls "exploited" were really not exploited. They came to the monastery, not so much led by the desire to become religious, as to make use of the OPPORTUNITY TO GET AN EDUCATION. Having received the education, they left, and by way of thanks, they throw dirt at their benefactors.
Here I should like to ask why so many teachers during the Soviet years have had to leave their beloved work as educators, just because they were practicing Catholics. Let us just recall Professor Sivickis, Vilkaviškis teacher Mrs. Brilienė, and many, many others. How many students were expelled from higher education... How much derision children put up with in school, taunting, scolding and even the lowering of one's conduct mark to "Satisfactory", just because they go to church, serve at Mass, scatter flowers in procession or sing in the choir... What wrong do they do to be punished and despised?
9. Jauniškis writes, "I have never blackmailed others... Atheists do not vilify a single believer for believing... so why call down the wrath of heaven on active atheists?"
I am protesting, not against the atheists, but against the lies and calumnies spread by them, against the deception of leaders and the misleading of people when atheists see religious houses as zoos. Finally, the very fact that atheists call religion superstition and believing people superstitious, benighted, obscurantist, religious hypocrites who have not shaken off religious superstitions, is all this not an insult to the faithful? Does not calling a person obscurantist, vilifying and deriding him as though he were not normal—is all this not insulting the faithful?
Jauniškis writes that, "The atheist is obliged to help people shake off erroneous ways." Those erroneous ways, according to Jauniškis, are religion. What right do you have to call religion an erroneous way when it is held by many of the most important scientists in the world? According to you, they are all obscurantists, since they have not renounced religious superstitions.
On May 9 of last year, more than 500 of the leading scientists of the world from all continents, visited the Pope to honor him, among them, thirty Nobel Prize winners. A few years earlier, that same Pope, on a visit to America, was invited to speak to the United Nations General Assembly. The entire Assembly listened to his long talk with great interest, and in all seriousness. The UN Secretary General at the time, Waldheim, said that, "The Pope's visit was the happiest day of my life", so the term obscurantist might fit someone else, but not the Pope.
10. At the end, Jauniškis writes, "I am glad of everything that I have done, and that I am doing". These words indicate moral bankruptcy. Jauniškis rejoices having disseminated much untruth and deception, and having vilified completely innocent people, even his benefactors. There are those who pay him fees for his libels, and with these poison-pen articles, poison the minds of their readers, especially callow and inexperienced youth.
Bijutiškis, January 26, 1984