On January 13, 1972, in Naujoji Akmenė, the People’s Court heard the case of a seventy-year-old resident of Žagarė, [Miss] Kleopą Bičiušaitė. She had violated the Soviet laws by preparing children for First Communion. To confirm her guilt, twenty-seven witnesses were summoned, mostly children between the ages of seven and fourteen. When Bičiušaitė herself admitted that, over a period of six days in July, 1971, she had taught prayers to children, these witnesses were no longer necessary—they only interfered with the smooth functioning of the trial because of their contradictory testimony. Seeing that some of the children were denying what others had affirmed, the judge began examining the children’s political awareness— how many of them were members of the Young Pioneers. Only four stated that they belonged to the Pioneers.
In his statement the procurator recalled that the constitution permits all citizens to freely profess whatever religion they choose, or to be atheists. No one restricts this freedom or uses any coercion. But the Soviet form of government strives against religion and hoodwinkery because it cannot tolerate the use of religion to hoodwink its citizens. According to the constitution, the Church is separate from the state and the school from the Church. The accused, Biciusaite, however, had taught children in an organized manner such prayers as the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Apostles’ Creed, the Angelus, and the Ten Commandments. This the Soviet system cannot allow. It cannot allow anyone to teach children differently from the way they are taught in school.
The procurator accused the school’s teachers of negligence, claiming that because of it, many children have not been enrolled into the Pioneers. He criticized and censured the Party element for their lack of political awareness, because their children also had gone to learn the tenets of the faith.
In concluding his presentation, the procurator recommended that Bičiušaite be sentenced to one year in prison.
In her concluding statement Kleopa Bičiušaite explained that she had taught the children at their parents’ request, and that it is permissible for those parents who cannot teach their children themselves to request help from another person. She had provided such assistance to the parents. And besides, she had taught the children only what was good: that they should not steal or lie but should obey their parents, etc.
The verdict of the court was that Biciusaite be deprived of her freedom for one year.
After the announcement of the verdict, the police immediately arrested the elderly lady and drove her to their headquarters so that she would no longer be able to teach
the children of the people what the people wanted them to be taught.