MORE THAN 500 priests in Lithuania have signed declarations of protest about State interference in Church affairs and have sent them to the Praesidium of the Supreme Soviet and other Soviet authorities.
The signatories, drawn from all the six dioceses. include Bishop Julijonas Steponavicius, the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Vilnius, and Bishop Vincentas Sladkevicius, Auxiliary Bishop of Kaisiadorys.
The declarations draw particular attention to the 1976 "Decree on Religious Association" passed to the Soviet Pruesidium which gives local authorities the right to close down churches.
The priests also protest as State intereference in the appointment of priests, admissions to seminaries and in the number of children allowed to make their first Communion.