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In this issue:
Lithuania December 8, 1986
The Catholic Lithuanian nation sincerely thanks Your Holiness for the blessing bestowed on those participating in the Festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Šiluva, for publicizing it to the world, for your telegram on the occasion of the Festival of the Mother of Mercy at the Gates of Dawn in Vilnius and for your ceaseless concern for the Church in our country!
United in prayer at the feet of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we beseech the Lord for health and abundant divine blessing for Your Holiness on your apostolic journies, disseminating the Spirit and the Light of Christ to all nations.
Regardless of all difficulties and actual circumstances, we desire and we hope to see a visit by Your Holiness to our homeland, celebrating the 600-year jubilee of our baptism.
Czarist Russia understood well that as long as the Catholic Faith in Lithuania was not destroyed, and the national consciousness was not weakened among the people, uprisings and opposition to the Czarist occupation would constantly occur. To that end, it began suppressing religious orders and churches which had fostered the deep faith of the Lithuanian people and their love for their country. In the Diocese of the Lowlands (Žemaitija), forty-six monasteries and twenty-three chapels and churches were suppressed.
What to do in such circumstances was clearly indicated by Bishop Motiejus Valančius in pamphlets published in Tilže (Tilsit): "When Muscovites take away our churches, Catholics must not only ask the government not to do so, but also the people of the entire parish, male and female, must gather together quickly, bringing provisions. They must fill and surround the church and not allow the Muscovites near the House of God. In the church itself, they must keep watch by night and singing hymns from the soul, they must pray the Lord to help His holy church...
It was not so long ago that our nation was being physically destroyed. Tens of thousands of people were packed into cattle-cars, hauled off to the farthest corners of the Russian Empire and starved and frozen to death in the steppes of Khazakstan, the Siberian tiaga and on the shores of an icy sea. Others were suffocated in prisons and countless camps of the Gulag, and finally, how many of our fellow countrymen lie murdered in their native land. Just let us recall the shooting of people and destruction of entire villages on the banks of the Nemunas, north of Merkinė, during the winter of 1944.
The occupants' rampaging in Lithuania is quite similar to the German conquerors' conduct in defeated Poland, 1939-1944. The only difference is that the deeds of the latter are held up to public view and condemned while an effort is being made to sink the crimes of the Russian executioner quietly into oblivion.
But the worst of it is that the genocide continues, only now by other means, in other ways. The evil intentions or goals have not changed, only the methods. The nation goes on being killed, this time not by deportations but with induced moral rot and the supression of self-identity. Communist "morality" imported and foisted on the nation is insinuating itself more and more into interpersonal relations. Self-perception is more and more being poisoned by distrust, suspicion, grovelling and venality, while moral decay, careerism and corruption continue to spread. And how much distrust, irresponsibility, theft, graft and bureaucracy there is: more and more, man is preying on man.
Response to the Distinguished Teacher Bernardas Šaknys
Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. Universal Declaration of Human Rights -Art. 26 (3)
On August 27,1986,1 was painfully surprised by your article in Tiesa (Truth), "The Compromised Conscience and Hypocrisy". It surprised me because your frequent statements in the press until now created the image of a thinking author concerned with abolishing evil. Your article of August 27 dimmed this image considerably.
In the article, you agonize together with an anonymous father whose son a woman prepared for First Communion at the request of relatives. You state that the child, a convinced Pioneer, betrayed his ideals, allowing himself to be bribed with a holiday gift — a Japanese tape recorder.
You are scandalized at the behavior of Miss Elena Versekytė, laboratory technician at the Scientific Experimental Institute for Tuberculosis, who took some children to the church in Nedingė. You condemn non-believing parents who are so doubtful about the ideological formation of their offspring, and you once more allow the anonymous father to express himself: 'It is the spiritual damaging of children, the development of hypocrites. What are they (the catechizers) butting in for? Why are they bothering the innocent soul of a child, disturbing the tranquility of childhood? After all, it is contrary to our laws which forbid the collective teaching of religion to children."
In the spring of 1986, after completing his sentence in the isolation prison of the Vilnius KGB and exile in Parabel, Julius Sasnauskas returned to freedom. After confinement lasting 6.5 years, Sasnauskas returned to Lithuania unbroken, and is presently living and working in Vilnius.
On November 3, after finishing a four-year sentence in the strict regime women's camp of Mordovia, Jadvyga Bieliauskienė returned. On account of bad health and a request for clemency which her son Žilvinas Bieliauskas wrote, the three-year exile handed down to her by the court was abrogated. Upon her return, Mrs. Bieliauskienė settled in Vilnius.
On the night of October 17,1986, the pastor of Pušalotas, Father Albinas Pipiras (61 years old) was assaulted and seriously injured.
Somewhat earlier, Father Pipiras was harassed over the phone by unknown criminals. In August, during the day, someone broke a window and three men and three women broke into the rectory of the parish of PuSalotas in broad daylight, one of them had a revolver with him and only after they noticed many people in the next room did the burglars flee. The incident was reported to the militia of the Pasvalis Rayon however... they did not react seriously.
About a week before the attack of October 17, the dog guarding the rectory was poisoned.
Katinas - Vilnius
In connection with the raids of May 22, 1986 (searches were carried out at the homes of Kaunas residents A. Patackas, Antanas Patackas, engineer Paulius Martinaitis, art critic Petras Kimbris, engineer Edvardas Šugžda photographer Gytis Ramoška, et. al., see Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, No. 71), up till October 21, about sixty individuals were questioned by the Security Police. Among them were: Kaunas residents philologist Vytas Ališauskas, mathematician Algis Saudagas, Aušra Saudagaitė architect Rimantas Zimkus, sculptor Vladas Rukša, Adelė Urbonaitė, D. Kurklinskienė, Ramūnas Kurklinskas, engineer Adelė Misiūtė, instructor at the agricultural academy Vladas Kudirka, Arūnas Rekašius, engineer Vytautas Volskis, agricultural academy instructor Prutenas Janulis, student Jūratė Banevičiūtė, ex-political prisoner Liudas Simutis, pensioner Birutė Federavičienė, former instructor at the agricultural academy Juozas Algirdas Lazauskas, restorer Antanas Jucevičius, laborer Kostas Lukėnas, architect Vytautas Petrašonis, the former political prisoner Petras Plumpa, architect Henrikas Sambora, mathematician Rolandas Razulevičius, Nijolė Patackienė (wife of Algirdas Patackas), Mrs. M. Dambrauskienė (wife of political prisoner Liudas Dambrauskas; the chekists all suggested that Mrs. Dambrauskienė submit a request for clemency in writing if she did not want her husband to die in prison), engineer Viktoras Krūminis, philosopher Albinas Plėšnys, Vilnius residents philologist Rimantas Matulis, physician Gaudenta Juozapaitytė, engineer Juozas Prapiestis; Dr. Ramūnė Butkevičiūtė working in the Rayon of Zarasiai, a resident of Garliava, et. al.
Lately, life has become much more difficult for prisoners as have their ties with their loved ones. It is three years now since Father Alfonsas Svarinskas has been granted a visit with his people. According to laws currently in effect, he is due one long (2-3 days) and two short (2 hours) visits. Letters from Father Svarinskas have not come since June. His family inquired of the camp administration why they do not receive letters from the prisoner. Camp administrators, as if wishing to ridicule, replied "Ask the prisoner himself why he does not write." Father Svarinskas' last letter to reach Lithuania was written June 25, received August 28 (1986).
From Father Sigitas Tamkevičius' letters:
'Today, my thoughts fly to the not too distant past. Three years have gone by since that day when on May 5, having offered the unbloody Sacrifice of the Lord, I left home... A long journey awaited me, on which God alone can accompany one. It is comforting to think that many join me in prayer. At all times, I feel at my side Him who called Himself the Way, the Truth and the Life. And for one who possesses the Truth, knows the Way and is on the way not to death, but to Life, the sky should be clear at all times. I am convinced that the road to life with God over the Urals is neither longer nor worse than other roads...
On October 8, 1986, the bishops of Lithuania, the administrators of dioceses as well as the rector of the seminary were summoned to the office of the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs, Petras Anilionis, in Vilnius. After starting with his accustomed scolding of the bishops for not bringing "extremists" to heel, the Commissioner presented the bishops with three drafts written allegedly by some priests or other (if so, it was obviously not without the government's knowledge), of a joint declaration by the bishops of Lithuania supporting the political line of Moscow on questions of peace and disarmament. Anilionis repeatedly demanded that the bishops sign one of the three documents.
Bishop Vincentas Sladkevičius of Kaišiadorys expressed surprise that the worst possible timing had been chosen for such a wish on the part of the government. "A couple of days ago, on September 30, in an editorial from Pravda reprinted in Tiesa, the faithful and we bishops were called representatives of 'views untruthful from beginning to end.' Why then were the signatures of liars needed? Unless it was to trample our authority in the eyes of the public... in your editorial, you urged people to fight us with all means at their disposal while we are being forced to sacrifice our authority on your account," said Bishop Sladkevičius.
"What do you understand by 'all means'?" the Commissioner asked.
The 800-year Jubilee Celebration of Latvian Christianity
This year, the Catholics of Latvia commemorate the 800-year jubilee of the consecration of Latvia's first bishop. In 1180, the Augustinian monk Meinhardt came to what is today Latvia, together with German merchants, and began the work of proclaiming the Gospel. Here, among Lyves and Curlanders living here on the right bank of the Dauguva River in Ikškilė (now the Rayon of Uogre, not far from Riga), he erected the first Catholic church in the Baltic region. In 1186, Bishop Hartwig II of Bremen, Hamburg, consecrated Meinhardt the first Bishop of Latvia. Pope Clement III, in a letter written 1188, described Meinhardt as a devout and wise man, endowed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He succeeded in planting the seed of God's word among the Lyves, and in spite of the refined efforts of the current atheistic regime, Catholicism has not been destroyed.
The 800-year jubilee celebration by the Catholics of Latvia is a glimmer of hope, encouraging them to persevere during these difficult times of government atheism. In preparation for celebrating the 600 anniversary of the conversion of Lithuania next year, let us see how the atheistic government has allowed our brothers the Latvians to celebrate a similar jubilee. Anyone visiting a Catholic church in Latvia can see hanging in the announcement cases a brief history of the introduction of Christianity into Latvia, in which the Venedic, that is Slavic, origin of Meinhardt is emphasized, and the peaceful nature of his missionary activities is brought out. Among other things, in the Baltic region, he is considered a saint, although according to present norms of the Church, devotion to him is not officially sanctioned. (Just as in the case of our Blessed Mykolas Giedraitis.)
Aušra (The Dawnj,No. 52 (92). In February, 1986, a new issue of Aušra appeared. The theme of the editorial, "Only on the Way Indicated by Christ," is concern for the future of humanity. 'If we do not want future generations to be frightened by terrible concepts, and that black reality: slavery, occupation, aggression, colonialism, racism, fascism, greedy capitalism, atheistic communism and the like would not frighten future generations, we are obliged to carry out the Gospel message of love which destroys the bacteria of hatred, deceit, greed, exploitation and repression, and brings about a healthy spiritual life for human kind; it is a duty to carry the evangelical idea of life to all corners of the world. There is no alternative. We must grasp all that today since tomorrow may be too late."
The publication carries the text of an appeal of Lithuania's Catholics to President Ronald Reagan of the U.S.A., U.S.S.R. General Secretary M. Gorbachev and all the nations of the world. On the occasion of his 60th birthday and the eve of the 34th anniversary of his imprisonment, political prisoner Balys Gajauskas is greeted with verse.