On April 29,1987, the priests of the Rayon were summoned to meet with representatives of the government at the Offices of the Kaunas Rayon Executive Committee. Various officials told the priests about the achievements at the Rayon. Among them was mentioned the fact that with the restriction of liquor sales, the rayon is experiencing a deficit of two million. After the officials' statements, the pastor of Babtai, Father Ricardas Mikutevičius, asked why priests still do not have equal rights with the atheists. The lecturers tried to deny it, saying that one of the priests was even invited to the presidium of the meeting. Father Mikutevičius showed that priests are not accepted into the Society for the Preservation of Monuments and that among the priests there are those who are not bad writers, but not one of them is in the Writers' Union.
The postor of Tabariškiai, Father Petras Dumbliauskas, i,-oughi up the idea that priests are not even accepted in temperence societies, and here, by their work, they could really do a good job for the benefit of all. During the meeting, priests working in the Rayon of Kaunas protested against government sanctioned killing of unborn children, of whom every year in Lithuania, many more are killed than the number of men who used to die annually during the war.
On April 23,1987, the priests of the s$Rayon of Alytus were summoned to the Offices of the City Executive Committee for a meeting with Commissioner Petras Anilionis of the Council for Religious Affairs. Only a few came. The " Commissioner demanded that the priests make every effort to see that during the Baptism Jubilee there be no "untoward incidents".
At twelve noon on May 13,1987, the priests of the City of Kaunas we re summoned to the quarters of the Executive Committee of the City of Kaunas. Vice Chairman Kazakevičius of the Executive Committee of Kaunas spoke. He gave the pastoral work of the priests good marks. In his words, "I am glad that among us, there are no misunderstandings."
The speaker expressed the hope that there would be no' misunderstandings in the future, either. Vice Chairman Kazakevičius warned the priests to be alert with the approach of the 600th Anniversary of the Baptism of Lithuania and demanded that:
- in the churches, no signatures be gathered on petitions or protests;
- in the churchyards and vestibles, there be no dealing in religious objects;
- the jubilee medal be displayed in churches only with the permission of the Executive Committee, after agreeing on where it should be displayed.
Toward the end of the meeting, Vice Chairman Kazakevičius asked whether there were any questions. None materialized. After the lecturer's speech, the priests began to applaud. Kazakevičius himself stopped them, saying, "It's unnecessary to applaud."
On March 25, 1987, Commissioner for Religious Affairs Vėtras Anilionis summoned the members of church committees in the Rayon of Klaipėda. In his speech, the Commissioner paid most attention to Jubilee Year solemnities and demanded care lest there be "excesses" on the part of the faithful. The Commissioner denegrated the saints of Lithuania as much as he could. He tried to convince those assembled that Saint Casimir was not a Lithuanian, but a Pole, who did not even know any Lithuanian and the future Blessed Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis had served the Poles exclusively and had given Vilnius to the Ecclesiastical Province of Poland, something that even the Soviet government is unable to correct.
At the end, one woman asked when the Church of the Queen of Peace in Klaipėda would be returned. Anilionis advised her to wait patiently, because the question was still being decided. "No signatures or their collectors will do any good here," said the Commissioner, "you must pull them into line and patiently wait."
K r e t i n g a
At the end of March, 1987, Vice Commissioner Juozėnas of the Council for Religious Affairs spoke to the members of Kretinga Rayon church committees. To this day, Juozėnas cannot calm down and keeps bringing up the question of how a year ago, in the church of Kretinga, the pastor, Father Bronius Burneikis, could bury solemnly, with church services, such a "criminal" as the late Petras Paulaitis. Vice Chairman Juozenas is somewhat placated by the fact that this year, on the anniversary of the death of Petras Paulaitis, his name was not mentioned before Mass, and the extremist, Father Rokas Puzonas, was not allowed to preach. "Now that is praiseworthy," said Juozėnas, "however, committee members should as a whole not allow church premises to be used for honoring 'state criminals'".
On March 26, 1987, the members of local parish committees, called by the government "twenties", were summoned to the House of Culture in Telšiai. Petras Anilionis spoke to them. Participating in the meeting also was TelSiai Rayon Executive Committee Vice Chairwoman Miss B. Urbelytė. The main theme of Commissioner Anilionis' lecture was preparation for the 600-year Jubilee of the Baptism of Lithuania, with a view to helping the Catholic Church in Lithuania celebrate this anniversary more fittingly.
He explained how many catechisms, Catholic Calendar-Directories, etc., the government has pulished and "the number the government authorized to be printed is fully sufficient for the believers."
He promised that in the future, 50,000 jubilee cards would be printed, and that all would be turned over to the believers. "For ourselves, we will retain only a few samples," Commissioner Anilionis explained.
He boasted that when the bishops refused to publish the full-color church albums, the government entrusted this task to the Mintis Publishers. Five hundred albums will show up in the bookstores by April. He reminded everyone that before long, Archbishop Jurgis Matulaitis would be proclaimed Blessed in the Vatican. He emphasized that in the Vatican, he is called Georg Matulevich, but the representatives of the Soviet government will try to initiate a discussion with the Vatican concerning the "restoration" of his Lithuanian surname.
He explained that he had been successful in coming to an agreement with the clergy that they would allow the government to print portraits of Jurgis Matulaitis and that they were already being prepared. He did not forget to remind them that several permissions had been granted for refurbishing and reconstruction of churches, and that permissions were being readied for priests to travel to the solemnities scheduled at the Vatican. The Commissioner tried in every way to convince those assembled that the government is very interested in a saint for Lithuania.
"So, reports that the Catholic Church in Lithuania is persecuted are pure nonsense and lies," Anilionis stated.
In the second part of his lecture, Anilionis spoke out firmly and extensively against collecting signatures on documents demanding the return of the church of Klaipėda and the restoration to freedom of the unjustly sentenced priests, Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis. He emphasized that the gathering of signatures has never yet decided any disputed question and in the future, collecting them would do no good. In Anilionis' opinion, favorable results could be expected only from negotiations between the government and the bishops. In closings he threatened that those who gather signatures would be punished in the future.
After the lecture, the faithful presented the speaker with a whole list of questions. To the question why the faithful cannot freely obtain prayerbooks in bookstores or at bookstalls, the Commissioner replied that for this, the bishops were to blame: They take all the prayerbooks and even try to profiteer at the faithful's expense.
To a request from the faithful of Gadunavą to lower the taxes on the church, since they have to pay the government 1200 rubles a year, the Commissioner stated that apparently the believers did not need the church very much if they do not have the money to support it. He advised them to ask the government organs that they close the church.
When someone asked why believing youngsters in school were pressured in all sorts of ways to renounce their beliefs and to stay away from church, Anilionis replied that the teachers have do this; this is what is called anti-religious propaganda.
With these and similar replies, Commissioner Petras Anilionis of the Council for Religious Affairs completed his lecture and once more demonstrated the governments' "sincere" concern for the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
Obeliai (Rokiškis Rayon)
In Marcn, 1987, a KGB agent from Vilnius faulted the local pastor, Father Antanas Zulona ., for participating in "anti-Soviet gathering organized by the Dean of Rokiškis, Father Juozas Janulis. What the chekist calls "gatherings" are occasional deanery conferences convened by the dean. To the KGB agent's knowledge, there are no such things in other deaneries, so they should not be in the Deanery of Rokiškis.
Varputėnai (Šiauliai Rayon)
On May 9,1987, in the church of Varputėnai, a commemoration of the 600th Anniversary of the Baptism of Lithuania took place. Soon after the commemoration, Father Edmundas Atkočiūnas, the associate pastor of Kuršėnai ministering to Varputėnai, was summoned to the Rayon Executive Committee where Vice Chairman Tekorius read him the a warning from the Commissioner for the Council for Religious Affairs because of infractions against the Regula-lions for Religious Associations during the jubilee solemnities.
Apparently, without the consent of the Rayon government, guest clergy from other parishes participated in the celebration. The sermon was preached by the "extremist" emeritus of Plungė, Father Petras Našlėnas. In the parish cemetery, located not far from the church, a wayside shrine was erected and blessed during the solemnities without Rayon government permission.
The Commissioner was also displeased because, during the commemoration, the faithful were urged to join the temperence movement by Jadvyga Bieliauskienė who had recently returned from a Soviet labor camp.
Father Atkočiūnas refused to acknowledge receipt of the warning in writing. It was signed by two witnesses summoned from nearby offices.
Paberžė (Vilnius Rayon)
On March 2,1987, during the principal Mass, unknown malefactors broke into the rectory of Paberžė and stole the church's ledger. After a ten-hour search, militia officers who were summoned could not find the thieves' fingerprints. At the end of the search, the officials took the fingerprints of the pastor, Father Donatas Valiukonis.
Žiežmariai (Kaišiadorys Rayon)
During the night of June 10,1987, the church of Žiežmariai was robbed. Unknown perpetrators broke a church window, bent the iron window frame and broke into the church. They broke down the sacristy door, tore out the offering boxes and stole the financial donations of the faithful.
A new wave of petitions and protests is sweeping across Lithuania. The faithful are demanding that His Excellency, Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius, be allowed to return to Vilnius and to carry out his duties as shepherd without interference, and also that the unjustly sentenced priests, Alfonsas Svarinskas, Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis, be released from prison.
On March 29, 1987, signatures on similar petitions were being collected in the vestibule of Saint Raphael's church. The pastor of this church, Father Antanas Dilys, told the women collecting the signatures to go outside the doors, saying, "Do you want them to transfer me out of Vilnius?"
He threatened to call the militia. The gathering of signatures was continued outside, on the steps. The pastor came repeatedly, sternly demanding that they go away: "What's the matter, isn't a word to the wise sufficient?" Father Dilys repeated several times.
One of the women collecting signatures explained that they had already gone outside the doors and were collecting signatures here as the pastor had demanded. Father Dilys corrected them, saying that the churchyard also belonged to the church and that he "let" them collect signatures only outside the churchyard gates, or from house to house. "Would you like it if I came to your home and took over?" Father Dilys fumed. /
Reminded that the church belongs also to the faithful, Father Dilys explained that he does not allow signatures to be collected so that the government would not close the church.
On April 4,1987, signatures were being collected in front of the church of Saint Ann. When a certain man entering the church was invited to sign, he replied, sternly protesting, "Do you know who I am? You are not allowed to collect signatures," he repeated, "that will hurt the pastor!"
During services, this person, dressed in surplice, served at the altar.
On April 10,1987, a lenten retreat was taking place at the Church of Saint Theresa in Vilnius. Signatures on behalf of Bishop Steponavičius and the imprisoned priests were being collected in the corridor of the Church of Saint Theresa connecting the church with the Chapel of the Gates of Dawn. The women collecting the signatures were driven out by the sacristan of Saint Theresa's Church, Povilas Stanelis, and a young man preparing to enter the seminary. They acted very rudely, threatening to call the militia, and they urged people not the sign the petition, saying that the signatures were being collected to have the church closed.
When it was suggested that they read the text, they did not. When one of the women gathering signatures said that for a sacristan who acted like that, the uniform of the security police would be more fitting, not a surplice, Stanelis left. The young man continued to threaten to call the militia, demanding that they leave. When the women refused, he used force against them, trying to take away the signatures they had collected.
To complaints about the rude behavior of the staff member, Administrator Algirdas Gutauskas replied that when the men came, it would be even worse for the women collecting signatures. The administrator for the diocese, Gutauskas, allowed them to collect signatures only outside the church doors.
The evening of April 10, signatures were being collected at the Church of Divine Providence. Here, a group of servers boldfacedly demanded that the collecting of signatures be discontinued, threatened them with militia and even a beating. Their boldness shows conclusively that the young men acted so not of their own volition.
On Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday in 1987, signatures on a petition to General Secretary Gorbachev were collected also at the Skuodas church, asking for Bishop Julijonas Steponavičius' return from exile to Vilnius, and the release of the imprisoned priests. The dean, Father Petras Palšis, read the petition from the pulpit and urged the faithful to support the aforesaid requests with their signatures. Immediately after Low Sunday, Father Palšis was summoned to the Rayon Executive Committee where Vice Chairwoman Ložiene berated him for collecting signatures. The Vice Chairwoman stated that she had not expected the dean to act so. "Government agencies knew that signatures were being collected in the churches, but that the dean himself would urge the faithful from the pulpit to sign - that's too much, and cannot be tolerated!" the Vice Chairwoman fumed.
As they were parting, Vice Chairwoman Ložienė warned Father Palšis that if this warning did not help, he would have to meet with the prosecutor.
During March, 1987, third-year seminarian Eitvydas Merkys was appointed assistant forms master and seminarian Medardas Juršėnas was appointed master of ceremonies. They remained in their assignments just one day. Learning of the appointments, Commissioner Anilionis ordered the assignments switched. Merkys would have to be master of ceremonies and Juršėnas assistant forms master.
The church and rectory in Miroslavas in 1968.
Government officials have begun to interfere not only in the assignment of priests, but even in seminarians' chores, and this in a country where the Church is separated from the state! :-JS
Miroslavas (Alytus Rayon)
On June 7, 1987, at Pentecost, the first Mass of Father Kazimieras Gražulis took place in the church of Miroslavas. That day, in the churchyard, signatures were collected under a petition to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, requesting them the release of Bishop Steponavičius from exile, and the imprisoned priests: Father Alfonsas Svarinskas, who had worked in the parish of Miroslavas for years, Fathers Sigitas Tamkevičius and Jonas Matulionis. District Chairman Rubliauskas, walking about the churchyard, threatened the signature collectors and seized from one woman the text of the petition which eight individuals had already signed.
The night of August 23,1986, on a little hill not far from the newly-laid the Pricnai-Kapsukas-Alytus Road, a wooden cross was erected among the pines. The cross stood for seven days, after which it was knocked down by government officials.
The night of April 30, 1987, on the same spot, a second cross arose which lasted for three days before it was knocked down. The night of May 16, a cross was erected on the Prienai-Kaunas Road, on so-called Brides' Hill. On May 19, the atheists knocked it down.
The night of June 11, along the Prienai-Alytus Road, at approximately the 7 km. mark, on a high mound near the forest, the people erected a six-meter birchwood cross; by the cross was the inscription, "Look, dear brothers, at the exiles' processions through the tundras and steppes, pliers painfully squeezing the living heart of our beloved and unhappy country."
On June 13, the atheists cut up the aforesaid cross and threw it out, taking only the crucifix. The next day, someone gathered up the pieces of the cross and set them out on the ground and next to it, erected one more modest-sized cross. After one night, both crosses disappeared.
More than fourteen years have passed since that day when, on March 27,1973, a criminal case was trumped-up against Dr. Izidorius Rudaitis, residing at Žemaičių g., nr. 12, in Kaunas, in which he was accused of anti-Soviet activity. Rudaitis was sentenced to three years of strict regime camp and confiscation of property. While he was serving sentence in the camp in Mordovia, government officials confiscated a GAZ-21 automobile belonging to Rudaitis, and put a lien on his account in the savings bank.
Rudaitis returned from camp and in March 1976, registered as a resident of his apartment at Žemaičių g., nr. 12. In 1978, with his first floor landlords, he installed natural gas at his own expense, regularly made the required payments and lived as a full-fledged householder.
On April 27,1984, chekists presenting a warrent from the prosecutor under the trumped-up charge that Dr. Rudaitis was involved in speculation in automobile parts, carried out a search. During the search, as is customary with the KGB, they looked for automobile parts in the bookshelves, in personal notes and in the desk drawers. A search was carried out also in the shed.
About three months after the search, Dr. Rudaitis was summoned to the offices of the KGB where agent Rusteika, accusing Rudaitis of anti-Soviet activity, forced him to sign a warning. The doctor refused to take part in this charade of lies. Seeing that he was going to gain nothing as an adversary, the KGB agent turned to slyness. From stern talk about anti-Soviet activity, he switched to problems of returning confiscated property.
Chekist Rusteika advised Rudaitis to apply to the Supreme Court for the return of the money in the savings account. The doctor applied to the
Supreme Court and from chairman of the court M. Ignotas, he received a communication that the lien on his account had already been lifted.
On January 28,1985, Supreme Court Vice Chairman J. Misitlnas, by official communication, number 9-2-4-38-85, informed Dr. Rudaitis that in accordance with Par. 50 of the L.S.S.R. Criminal Code, points one and two, the part of the verdict concerning the confiscation of property cannot be carried out if it had not been carried out for five years, counting from the date of the verdict.
Since July, 1984, from time to time KGB agent Rusteika would visit the home of Dr. Rudaitis where, remembering to emphasize his friendship to him, he would ask about the underground press and other questions of interest to the KGB. When the doctor replied that he knew nothing, the chekist would leave.
Then, on January 9,1986, at about 11:00 P.M., Chairman Rugienis of the Eleven Apartments Fiscal Department and militia officer Koreiva came. From Dr. Rudaitis and his son Ąžuolas Rudaitis, they took their passports and their house book, cancelled both their registrations by force, and ordered them to get out of the apartment within three days. Neither the father nor the son left the apartment.
On January 13, those same officials threw their things out of the apartment on to the stairway. Rudaitis appealed to Prosecutor Vilimas of the Kaunas City Lenin Rayon, submitting the appropriate documents and setting forth in detail all the events. The prosecutor, after considering the documentation he had received, ordered agent Maskvytis to open the apartment and to return Rudaitis' thrown-out things from the stairway back to the apartment.
Maskvytis did not carry out the prosecutor's order. With the permission of Prosecutor Vilimas, the Rudaitis' moved their furnature back in themselves. It appears that while Izidorius and Ąžuolas Rudaitis were "living" on the stairway, the apartment administration with the intervention of Lenin Rayon Deputy Kavolis, reassigned Rudaitis' apartment to Miss D. Mikutenaitė.
This was done January 16, and now, on March 2, 1987, the Kaunas Lenin Rayon Peoples' Court concluded that Izidorius and Ąžuolas Rudaitis broke into the apartment of Miss Mikutenaitė. Based on a document of January 28,1985, in which it affirms that confiscation of property not carried out for five years becomes null and void, it is clear that the apartment legally belongs to Dr. Rudaitis. The apartment administration did not have the right to sell a personal apartment.
After every incident, chekist Rusteika would visit Dr. Rudaitis and kept saying that it was essential for the doctor to apply to the KGB which would straighten everything out in his favor. Rudaitis would reply that he did not think that all this was going on without KGB knowledge; on the contrary, it was their plot.
Rusteika did not cease trying to convice them that he must not give in since the law was on the doctor's side. Rudaitis requested that KGB agent Rusteika testify in court that he had lived here and was living here. The chekist agreed, but when the day of the trial arrived, he refused, unofficially arguing that Chief Bagdonas of the Kaunas Zone KGB was not allowing him.
Regardless of a whole list of witnesses, all of whom testified that Dr. Rudaitis and his son Ąžuolas Rudaitis were permanent residents, on June 4, 1987, the Lenin Rayon Peoples' Court, with Judge Blazevich presiding, decided to evict Izidorius and Ąžuolas Rudaitis from the apartment at Žemaičių g., nr. 12, without providing any living space.
One must conclude that after the 1984 search and threats, the chekists, seeing that Dr. Rudaitis was not broken (He wrote his memoirs, followed political events and lived the life of a true Catholic Lithuanian; during the visits of chekist Rusteika the talks also did not go the way the KGB wanted them to go), decided to blackmail the old doctor still more, thinking that perhaps he would break, and begin to regret the loss of the apartment, become frightened and the KGB would be able to come to terms with him; he would be unable to withstand such moral and material pressure.
Of course, as usual, the KGB scatters the embers through the hands of others. So, on this occasion: the apartment administration, the militia, Deputy Kavolis and others were all just tools in their hands. Prosecutor Vilimas at first tried to bring criminal charges against the apartment administration, but it was explained to him that Rudaitis must not be defended — he is an enemy of the Soviet government.
U.S.S.R. law stands on slippery grounds, so it is not difficult to turn it in the direction the KGB wants. So, the pressure against Dr. Rudaitis continues.
Veiveriai (Prienai Rayon)
During the month of June, 1987, a cross was erected in the Veiveriai churchyard to commemorate the 600-year jubilee of the baptism of Lithuania. Immediately after the erection of the cross, the pastor of Veiveriai, Father Kazimieras Skučas, was summoned to the Rayon Executive Committee where he was reprimanded for putting up the cross without government permission. The priest explained that in the churchyard and cemetery, as far as he knew, crosses can be erected without special government permission. He had done so in his former parishes and no one had penalized him for this.
"Hence, when, for this offense you are transferred to another parish, it will be necessary to inform the government of that rayon that you are a hardened lawbreaker," stated the Executive Committee Vice Chairman.
At the same time, he explained that he would most likely have received permission to erect the cross if only he had applied in time. As an example, he mentioned Father Juozas Užupis, pastor of Prienai, who in 1984 applied to the rayon government for permission to erect a wayside shrine in the churchyard, allegedly permission was given, only the pastor later reconsidered and did not erect a shrine in the churchyard — he put it up in the church itself. The permit was still valid; after three months it still rests with the rayon architect.
In 1984, no one gave the pastor of Prienai permission to erect any wayside shrine. Hearing such nonsense on the part of government officials, Father Užupis hurried to see the rayon architect, thinking perhaps that after three years he would be allowed to put up a wayside shrine in the churchyard to commemorate the jubilee of Saint Casimir. The rayon architect explained that all talk regarding a former permit is just a soap bubble.
Lithuanian, do not forget that:
Father Alfonsas Svarinskas
Father Sigitas Tamkevičius
Father Jonas-Kąstytis Matulionis
and others bear the shackles of imprisonment so that you might live and believe freely.