16 March 2012
Mrs Irena Degutienë, Speaker of the Seimas, welcomed the commemorative conference dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania and its participants who contributed to the publishing and distribution of the Chronicle and supported it in every way.
In her opening address, the Speaker rejoiced that our national, cultural, and religious memory was dear to many people and our principal values did not disappear as time went by. Mrs Degutienë commented on the difficulty to tell the young generation about the oppressive atmosphere that was once present in every sphere of life, the Soviet government that was going deeper into stagnation, and the almighty security service, the KGB, which was determined to control everyone and the acronym of which was known all around the world. “Today, it is hard to believe that in this empire of evil, a group of bold people emerged who decided to start publishing and spreading the word of truth – the people who decided to start publishing and distributing the Chronicle.”
The Speaker of the Seimas claimed that the Chronicle became a phenomenon that kept society vigilant and propelled and moved the souls of people who managed not to lose their dignity, wait patiently, believe in the will and justice of the Almighty and in the historical truth, as well as trust their fellow citizens. It was everything we believed in and relied on at the times of the national revival, on 11 March 1990, and on 13 January 1991.
“You do not need to be an expert in history to understand that without the Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania, the values it praised, and the circle of people it mobilised, the national revival would have been different”, Mrs Degutienë said as she underlined that the editors, distributors, and supporters of the Chronicle defended not only the rights of the Catholics but also the dignity and freedom of every man. She added that thanks to their work, they became part of the history of the Catholic Church, as well as the history of Lithuania.
Having congratulated everyone who contributed to the publishing of the Chronicle, the Speaker of the Seimas said she was convinced that there were more people who had been silent and modest about their support to the publishing and distribution of the Chronicle and whose role was only known to a tiny few. Therefore, Mrs Degutienë invited everyone to mention and name in their memoirs, articles, or their communication with the press or the young generation, the names of all those who had contributed to the publishing of the Chronicle. “The nation, especially the young generation, has to know who they should be grateful to for having paved their way to freedom with the words of truth.”
During the event, the editors, co-workers, and distributors of the Chronicle received letters of acknowledgements signed by the Speaker of the Seimas.
The Chronicle of the Catholic Church in Lithuania (hereinafter referred to as the Chronicle) was the longest published and most widely distributed underground magazine of the Catholic Church in Lithuania. It became a symbol of the Church, which had been persecuted but not silenced. The secret meetings of active priests in Lithuania paved the way to the publication. In the period of 1972–1989, the Chronicle documented Soviet crimes (its first issue was published on 19 March 1972 in Simnas, Lithuania). It registered and publicly announced information regarding stifling of Church activities, persecution of believers, and human rights violations, as well as published the documents attesting to those facts. Secretly reaching the West and having wide repercussions in the world’s media, the Chronicle was eroding the myth maintained by the Soviet propaganda concerning the alleged humanity of the Communist regime and the ostensible freedom of belief in the Soviet Union. The Chronicle encouraged believers in the occupied Lithuania, disciplined the ones who were likely to collaborate with the Soviet regime, and strengthened the endurance of the leaders of the Church. Despite the KGB persecutions and repressions, which affected dozens of imprisoned co-workers and hundreds of blackmailed distributors of the Chronicle, it was published on a regular basis until the restoration of independence. A total of 81 issues of the Chronicle came out in print until the start of the national revival movement (the last issue was published on 19 March 1989). With the joint efforts of the Lithuanians living in the US, all the issues of the Chronicle were published in a 10 volume compendium (excluding the issues in foreign languages).
Public Relations Unit