THE CHRONICLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN LITHUANIA
No. 9 Lithuania, 1974
Read and pass on!
Published since 1972!
THE FREEDOM TO DIE
During December and January [1973-74], an article entitled "Tarybinis įstatymas ir religija" [Soviet law and religion] by Pranas Mišutis, advisor to the Council of Ministers of the LSSR, was reprinted in the rayon newspapers. The weekly newspaper Kalba Vilnius [Vilnius speaks], 1974, no. 5, published a long article by Mišutis entitled "Bažnyčia ir religingumas mūsų dienomis" [The Church and religiosity in our day]. Appearing on the radio program "Akiratis" [Store of knowledge], the advisor to the Council of Ministers attempted to convince the populace that the Soviet laws governing religious cults are very humane.
Why has atheistic propaganda been intensified?
"It is our obligation to unmask the attempts by propagandists from abroad and local reactionaries to slander Soviet reality and distort the actual situation," wrote Mišutis (P. Mišutis, "Tarybinis įstatymas ir religija" [Soviet law and religion]). The atheistic propagandists hope to convince the people at any cost that "our laws governing religious cults are democratic" (ibid.).
Let us analyze just what Mišutis stated concerning the extent of the "freedom" of the Church and what he failed to mention.
THE KOMSOMOL CONVENTION
In mid-February, 1974, the Eighteenth Convention of the Komsomol Leninist Young Communist League of Lithuania, held in Vilnius, devoted particular attention to the Communistic education of the young. First Secretary of the Central Committee of the League, V. Baltrūnas, boasted of the results that have been achieved in educating the youth in the spirit of patriotism and internationalism. According to Baltrūnas, the all-Union campaign to mark and preserve places of note relating to the revolutionary battles and deeds of the Soviet workers had produced favorable results. During the three-year campaign, the participants dedicated about 150 obelisks and memorial tablets, and furnished a total of 678 museums, memorial rooms, and smaller sites honoring those who had participated in the struggle. In the future the special task of the Komsomol and Pioneer organizations would be to instill in the youth a respect for and loyalty to their multinational homeland.
In his address Lithuanian Communist party Central Committee Secretary A. Barkauskas stated: "Each collective must plan for the internationalistic and patriotic education of its youth, making more intelligent and inventive use of the examples of the revolutionary movement and of the Great War of the Fatherland, of museum exhibits, exhibitions, meetings with Red Army soldiers, veterans, former members of the underground, and of organized trips to historical sites of past struggles and triumphs."
On January 18, 1974, Virgilijus Jaugelis was ordered to present himself before the Vilnius State Security Committee. Lazarevičius, the interrogator, attempted to find out the name of the person who had given Jaugelis a satchel containing mimeograph stencils. Jaugelis explained that, in his opinion, the search that had been conducted in his home was illegal since freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution. Those who had conducted the search were, in fact, lawbreakers, and that for this reason he was refusing to say anything. One of the interrogators expressed the opinion that V. Jaugelis should be taken to a mental hospital to have his health checked.
Jaugelis was interrogated again on the following day. He was asked whether he knew Petronis, Father Zdebskis, and others. Jaugelis was fingerprinted and had to provide samples of his handwriting.
On December 19 and 20, 1973, the People's Court of Lenin District in Vilnius heard a case against the "embezzlers of state property." Presiding was Judge Stankevičius.
In the bill of indictment, which took Procurator Dėdinas about three hours to read, A. Terleckas was charged with violating Articles 160, 157, and section 2 of Article 94 of the LSSR Criminal Code. The second part of the last-mentioned article deals with crimes committed jointly by a group of individuals, however, A. Terleckas was alone in the dock.
From the indictment it became clear that A. Terleckas is a college graduate with a degree in economics. He also studied history. In 1958, he had been on trial for a political crime in violation of Article 58 of the Criminal Code. There has been talk that Terleckas was a "major irritant" in the eyes of the Soviet government, which therefore was seeking revenge. This opinion was fully confirmed by the proceedings of the trial.
THE ARCHDIOCESE OF VILNIUS
"To: The Procurator of the LSSR
"From: Lapienis, Vladas, the son of Antanas,
residing at 5 Dauguvietis St., Apt. 11, Vilnius
"In accordance with Article 242 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure, I wish to inform you that on Nov. 20, 1973, security police under the leadership of Lieutenant Gudas, while conducting a search of my apartment, violated Article 192 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure by taking away to their headquarters the following religious books which were not listed in the report of the search nor in the addendum."
(V. Lapienis enumerates the exact titles of fifty-nine religious books, and notes many other books, pamphlets, and loose sheets of paper confiscated and taken to security headquarters that were not mentioned in the report of the search or in the addendum—ed.)
"Article 192 of the LSSR Code of Criminal Procedure clearly states: 'All confiscated documents and objects must be shown to the witnesses and all others present, and must be enumerated in the report of the confiscation or search or in an addendum attached thereto, indicating their quantity. .. and an official seal must be placed on the items at the scene of the search or confiscation.' In reality, completely ignoring Article 192 of the code, the security policemen willfully took the above-mentioned and many other books without listing them either in the report or in the addendum, placed them in bags, and without sealing them loaded them into an automobile and took them away. Before leaving, Lt. Gudas stated, 'These books might be returned.'
The funeral of the late pastor of the parish in Mielagėnai, the Rev. Vincentas Miškinis, was held on October 30, 1973. A great number of people participated in the rites. Among them was [Miss] Albina Meškėnaitė, the director of the pharmacy in Ignalina, and Dr. [Miss] Vitalija Juzėnaitė, the director of the local medical laboratory.
Meškėnaitė had come to the pharmacy in Mielagėnai, which was under her supervision, on business. She found the store closed since the local pharmacist, even though she was a Russian, had gone to the funeral—everyone is interested in the burial rites of a priest.
Present on this occasion for reasons of surveillance were [Mrs.] Pivoriūnienė, an official from the Ignalina Bureau of Vital Statistics and [Mrs.] Karoliūnienė, the representative of the rayon executive committee. They later reported the presence of Meškėnaitė and Juzėnaitė at the funeral.
On the following day, [Mrs.] Gaigalienė, the chief physician at Ignalina Hospital, and Meškėnaitė, the director of the pharmacy, were ordered to appear before the IgnalinaRayon Executive Committee. Meškėnaitė was ordered to submit a written explanation. She wrote that her job had necessitated a visit to the pharmacy at Mielagenai, but she made no mention of the funeral. Her explanation was considered unsatisfactory, and the government officials ordered her to rewrite it. They threatened to report her to the Pharmacy Board if she would refuse to do so, which in fact was done.
[Miss] Aldona Matusevičiūtė was a teacher at Vilnius Nursery-Kindergarten No. 81. On September 27, 1973, she was charged before the Vilnius Department of Education with being a nun, and forced to sign a statement that she was "voluntarily" resigning her position. On October 13, Matusevičiūtė was dismissed from her position.
Toward the end of May, 1973, Stankaitis, an instructor of atheism at the State Pedagogical Institute of Vilnius, stated while delivering a lecture to fourth-year students of preschool education and psychology in the evening session: "Kindergarten teachers who overhear a child mentioning God must consult with his parents. If this fails to produce the desired results, it is permissible to contact the parents' places of employment and to take action through their labor unions and Party organizations."
* * *
On February 18, 1974, the Supreme Court in Vilnius began to hear the case of V. Povilonis, A. Sakalauskas, S. Žukauskas, Rudaitis, and Mackevičius. All five were arrested in March, 1973, and charged with anti-Soviet activities. The trial is expected to last about two weeks. Further information will be presented in issue no. 10 of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania.
During the 1972-73 school year at Jonava Secondary School No. 1, the homeroom teacher of class 4A, [Mrs.] Šlapkauskiene, frequently scolded and derided her pupil Leonas Rosinas for attending church. Following the teacher's example, the class acted no better than she.
During the 1973-74 school year, the education of Leonas was undertaken by another teacher, [Mrs.] Valeravičiene, another atheist. She ridiculed him in front of the class for going to church with his mother. Upon returning home from school, the boy would frequently complain that he had been pushed around and beaten by the schoolboys.
Oncė Valėravičienė and her husband assailed Leonas' mother for being a backward, uneducated person who believed in some kind of imaginary God. [Mrs.] Rosinienė explained to her in a kindly manner that she was thoroughly convinced of the existence of God. The homeroom teacher then attempted to convince her to at least stop taking Leonas to church.
"To: The Procurator of the LSSR
"From: Citizen Balys Babrauskas, the son of Anupras,
residing in Smilgiai Village, Biržai Rayon
"On November 20, 1973, security officials of Biržai Rayon under the command of Capt. Jasinskis, searched the church, the sacristy, the outlying buildings, and my living quarters in the sacristy. I have been forced to live there because both the old and the new rectories built by the parishioners for their ministers have been confiscated by the BirzaiRayon Executive Committee.
"Much of my religious literature, hymnals, and writing paper was confiscated during the search, together with my typewriter and all of my magnetic tapes, both blank and those containing mainly recordings of hymns. Also taken were all the copies of the hymns used by the religious community of Smilgiai.
"I consider the search to have been completely illegal for the following reasons:
1. The search was conducted without any witnesses, because those listed as such themselves took part in the search, and I was not permitted to ask anyone to serve as a witness.
2. My confiscated property—the religious literature, etc.—was taken unlawfully because both the Natural Law and the constitution permit the profession of any religion whatsoever and the free use of religious literature, no matter how it was produced, whether by pencil, ink, or on my typewriter.
THE DIOCESE OF TELŠIAI
On January 8, 1974, the curate of the parish in Šilalė, the Rev. A. Šeškevičius, sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Council for Religious Affairs inquiring why the vice-chairman of the Šilalė Rayon Executive Committee had forbidden him to assist the chairman of the parochial committee in taking up the collection.
"Does not the chairman of the parochial committee have the right to select any citizen to assist him in taking up the collection?" asked Father Šeškevičius. "And is not the priest a citizen?"
"I have been told that a priest may participate in taking up the collection, but that in no case can he carry the plate. It is useless for a priest to 'assist' in taking up the collection, if he has no useful function, for then he will appear to be an overseer, which only irritates the faithful."
FROM THE ARCHIVES OF THE CHRONICLE
OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
On August 7, 1968, the Rev. V. Šlevas, pastor of the parish in Adakavas, sent the following petition to Comrade Kosygin, chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR:
"The Lithuanian SSR is a country of believers. At present it has about three million inhabitants. About two million believe in God and make use of religious services. As a rule, neither the clergy nor the believers oppose the present form of government. (Diplomatic phraseology— ed.). The Lithuanians are industrious, conscientious, earnest, and friendly, as well as amenable; however, we are aware of certain restrictions and deficiencies on the part of some of the governmental representatives of our Republic. Therefore, I am appealing to you, Honorable Prime Minister, requesting your assistance and support in the name of all the priests and the believers:
1. There are about 800 churches served by the priests in the LSSR. Yet there remains but one seminary for six dioceses, whereas previously there were three. Only a limited number of seminarians—about thirty—are permitted to study at this sole seminary. Each year barely five or six priests are ordained. Of what significance is such a number for six dioceses? Between twenty-five and thirty priests die or leave their posts yearly because of ill health. Parishes suffer greatly when they lose their spiritual leaders. Such groundless limitation severely restricts the freedom of religion of the Catholics, thus violating the laws of the Soviet Union.
On August 20, 1973, the curate of the parish in Jieznas, Father K. Žilys (ordained in 1973), was ordered to present himself before the Jieznas Executive Committee. The government officials demanded that he banish the children from the altar.
"A priest's duty is to draw children to the altar and not to drive them away," explained Father Žilys.
A short while later, Father Žilys was being "educated" again. The principal of the secondary school in Jieznas accused him of organizing a children's church choir and insisted that he would not permit the religious education of children. The curate even had to present a written explanation. Father Zilys explained that it was his duty as a priest to help people. He had agreed to teach hymns to the children because the believers had asked him to do so.
On October 31, 1973, both priests from the parish in Jieznas, Fathers V. Sidaras and K. Žilys, were ordered to appear before the Prienai Rayon Executive Committee. The curate was warned to stop violating Soviet laws: to cease the holding of choir practice and the teaching of groups of children. Father Žilys declared that he was unable to obey such laws that were aimed against the Church. He refused to sign a written warning. The rayonofficials warned him that they would not tolerate such a priest in their rayon, and that such actions of his would have serious consequences.