The atheistic government, having gone ten years without arresting any priests, and having now arrested and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment two of the most exemplary priests in Lithuania, Alfonsas Svarinskas and Sigitas Tamkevičius, has seen that among the believing faithful, the moral authority of the arrested priests, called extremists by the atheists, has only grown. They have been unable in the press to give any arguments proving the "guilt" of the priests. The atheists are trying to diminish the effect of the harsh sentence on the public by dredging up old histories from the forgotten past. Thev are using for this the pre-war case of Msgr. Konstantinas Olšauskas, on which a two-part Lithuanian television film, Devynai nuopuolio ratai (Descent to the Ninth Circle) appearing in the middle of May, was based.
With this film, as the atheists themselves testify (Kalba Vilnius — Vilnius Speaking, May), an attempt is being made to tell the public: "Those convicted extremist priests, beloved and defended by you, are just as much criminals as was Msgr. Olšauskas; even in your Independent Lithuania the same kind of extremist priest was sentenced."
Hence, it is important that the Lithuanian people, constantly deceived by atheistic propaganda, know the truth about the charges fabricated by Nationalist Party liberals who were trying to thwart the Catholic movement in Lithuania. With the passage of time, new information has come to light showing that the allegation of murder aimed at Msgr. Olšauskas was without grounds.
The aforesaid case was analyzed in the light of the new information in a book by an author living in Lithuania. To block the atheists' scheme, we submit a summary of the book mentioned above.
Konstantinas Olšauskas was born April 22, 1867, in Burbaičiai, Plungė Rayon. On April 18, 1933, he was murdered near Laukžemė, Kretinga Rayon.
He was a noted Catholic social actionist. In 1892, he graduated from the Spiritual Academy of Petrograd. In 1906, he established the Saint Joseph Society of Christian Workers. He was one of the founders of the Saint Casimir Society and of the Saulė (Sun) Society. The Society of Saint Casimir concerned itself with the Catholic press. The Saulė Society founded quite a few schools.
From 1914 to 1916, he worked with a committee for the relief of Lithuanian war victims. (The Lithuanian Central Committee for the Relief of War Victims or Lithuanian Central Relief Committee — Lietuvių Centrinis Komitetas Nukentėjusiems nuo Karo Šelpti — It was in the facilities of the Committee that the Declaration of Independence was later signed by the Council of Lithuania. See Encyclopedia Lituanica, Vol. 3, p. 388 — Trans. Note) From 1916 to 1918, he served on the staff of the Lithuanian Information Bureau in Switzerland.
When in 1928, Mrs. Stanislava Ustjanauskienė died under strange circumstances, the Nationalist government, involved in a struggle against the Catholic Church, accused Msgr. Olšauskas of hanging her, and even though it had no real evidence, sentenced him in 1929 to six years in prison. In 1931, he was given amnesty.
Using these incidents, the atheists of Lithuania have made a television film, trying with this calumny to undermine the authority of priests in the eyes of the Lithuanian public.
Many a person seeing that film can ask whether this is historical fact, or just slander arising from ill will.
Why did Father Olšauskas become friends with Mrs. Ustjan-auskienė?
In 1894, as pastor in Debeikiai, he invited Mrs. Ustjan-auskienė to tutor his brother and sister, who were living in the rectory. Later, in order to carry out his far - reaching projects, he had borrowed several thousand Czarist rubles from her. In this way, she became a close associate of the monsignor.
The film portrays Father Olšauskas as having had a son, Ričardas,by Mrs Ustjanauskienė. Is this factual?
It is not factual! Ričardas was born in 1899, in Warsaw. Before leaving for Poland, Mrs. Ustjanauskienė last saw Olšauskas in Debeikiai in 1897. It was for that reason that Olšauskas, during the trial, retorted. "Surely she could not have remained pregnant for three years!"
The film depicts a neighboring priest breaking the seal of confession to warn Olšauskas. Is this factual?
No, this is a pure fabrication of the atheists.
Who saw Mrs. Ustjanauskienė before her death, and when did they see her?
In 1928, Mrs. Ustjanauskienė spent the summer taking the cure in Birštonas. She had rented a room with the Žeimis family. On September 13, when her landlord and landlady told her they were going to Prienai, she took a hammock and a small suitcase, and left. At about 6:00 PM, she visited the monsignor, who was also vacationing in Birštonas, bringing him some pears and milk. Then she visited her friends, Mrs. Rascickienė and Mrs. Kreišmienė. She told them she was on her way to the forest beyond the Nemunas River. A little later, looking at her watch, she said that it was time to leave, and departed.
Where? Certainly not to the forest. It was 6:15 PM (2100, according to present summer time), (sic — Trans. Note) It was drizzling, and thunder could be heard in the distance. In the woods, it was wet. No one saw her going to Prienai. In a word, she went out and disappeared.
The film depicts her accompanying Olšauskas that evening to Vytautas Park. Was this so?
Not so! Even though the investigator searched carefully, he failed to find a single person who had seen them that evening going anywhere together. Moreover, to get to the top of Vytautas Hill, it was necessary to ascend 280 steps. The stairs were wooden, in disrepair and slippery. Mrs. Ustjanauskienė at that time was ill, suffering from a heart condition and rheumatism, and she weighed 97 kg (213 lbs). She would never have been able to get up the hill alone. Not without a couple of strong men carrying her up. But there was no reason for her to go there. She had rented an apartment, and there, unobserved by anyone, she could do anything which entered her head.
According to the film, Mrs. Ustjanauskienė was heard calling for help that night. Was this so?
Whose voice that was, it would be hard to say. A couple of women, however, testified that on their way back from Linkmenys at about midnight, they had definitely heard someone calling three times, "Help!"
However, Msgr. Olšauskas definitely was not in Birštonas at that time. At about 10:00 AM, Butkevičius, the driver, had taken him in his own car to Kaunas, and about 11:30 PM, he left Kaunas for Samogitia. To say that the scream was heard after the monsignor went there together with Mrs. Ustjanauskienė is a big lie.
When and how was the body of Mrs. Ustjanauskienė discovered?
The body was not found until three days later, on September 16. It lay in bushes on Vytautas Hill, on its left side, with a rope twisted about the neck. A reddish substance had trickled from the ears and nose down the right side of the face. Physicians say that such a liquid seeps out after rigor mortis sets in. So the body had to undergo rigor mortis lying on its right side. After all, the liquid could not flow upwards. Nearby was a bloody hammock. Why bloody? It appears that someone had brought the already rigid body from somewhere, wrapped in the hammock, and thrown it down.
So who killed Mrs. Ustjanauskienė?
Only later did clues to the murder come to light. Around the beginning of 1930, the Polish secret agent, Vilkickas, who had infdtrated the staff of the Šiauliai Association (Lithuanian National Guard — Trans. Note), was discovered and arrested. He was sentenced and shot. While in prison, however, he managed to write his recollections. Among other things, it says there that Vilkickas himself had given a national guard automobile to a
Polish agent, to go to Birštonas. There, he and a local accomplice carried out their task. It was discovered that Mrs. Ustjanauskienė had been recruited by Polish Intelligence. When she seemed no longer useful to them, the decision was made to dispose of her, in order to keep her silent.
Why was Msgr. Olšauskas found guilty by the court?
Obviously, the monsignor was unjustly judged only because he had many enemies. His first enemy was the Nationalist government of those days, which had started a bitter war against the Church's influence. It confiscated a letter from the bishops to the faithful, expelled the representative of Holy See from Lithuania, punished several priests, banned the activities of Catholic high school students' organizations, and now, by incrim -inating Msgr. Olšauskas, it wanted to administer yet another blow to the Church's authority.
The Poles hated Olšauskas for his Lithuanianism. On account of his upright character — he minced no words with the great or the humble — even Church leadership could barely stand him. Thus, the Archdiocese of Kaunas, even though it in no way agreed to acknowledge the judgement against Olšauskas as based on fact, nevertheless, demonstrated an unpardonable neglect during the trial, failing to defend him as it should have and could have.
The inscription on the cross marking Msgr. Olšauskas' grave rightly says: "Great initiator and developer of Lithuanianism, statesman, and Catholic social actionist. Condemned without evidence in the Birštonas case by Masons of Lithuania. Kept in prison for one year, ten months and twenty-five days (February 13, 1929 — February 16, 1931)."
Who killed Msgr. Olšauskas, and why?
On June 18, 1933, while returning from the celebration of the Ascension in Palanga, he was shot in the woods by Mayor Žilius of the local village. Why it is not clear. He mentioned to the prison doctor, (Miss)Kalvaitytė, "One of us two had to die." It is probable that Žilius had been in Birštonas at the time — had helped the Polish agent to kill Mrs. Ustjanauskienė, and he now feared lest the monsignor reveal the circumstances of his crime.
During the war, as the Red Army was approaching Lithuania, a few government officials, preparing to flee to the West, visited the chancery of Vilnius, and told Father Basys, "We don't want our conscience burdened by the sentencing of Msgr. Olšauskas: We're telling you that the verdict against him was unjust."
The monsignor in Garliava and Alexsandras Žilinskas, who during the trial of Msgr. Olšauskas had been Minister of Justice in Lithuania, were close friends. The minister had told him, "We had no real proof that Msgr. Olšauskas had killed Mrs. Ustjan-auskienė." However, it is hard to believe that Msgr. Olšauskas would be rehabilitated today. We know well that those doing the judging, especially in difficult times, make many mistakes. How many thousands of people were unjustly condemned in Stalin's day? And just a few years later, after his death, many, even of the dead, were rehabilitated.
The renowned English author, Chesterfield, says, "Remember as long as you live: Only the strict truth can be your guide in the world. Only by following it will you keep your conscience ami your honor unsullied."
"It is better to let yourself be beheaded than to speak a crooked word or to distort the truth, or to shut one's eyes to injustice when it is not just one man who is being demeaned, but all of humanity." (Sukhomlynsky, the Ukrainian educator.)
Sooner or later, the truth will out. Lying and libel bring no honor to the one doing the libeling.
The faithful of Lithuania have the right to know the truth and to know how to defend themselves against the unfounded accusations of the atheists.