Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
A Letter to His Holiness Pope John Paul II
São Paulo, March 15, 1991
Pope John Paul II
As President of the National Council of the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), as well as the duly accredited representative of other 14 kindred and autonomous TFPs in Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, the United States, Uruguay and Venezuela, I place in the hands of Your Holiness our respectful and filial homage and at the same time a unanimous request to the Throne of St. Peter, with hearts overflowing with the yearning of being paternally heeded.
What brings us to the presence of Your Holiness is the sensitivity of our souls in the face of a moaning nation whose rights must be defended. Let me explain.
1) Lithuania is, today like yesterday – or perhaps even more so today than yesterday – the glorious “Terra Mariae” [Land of Mary]. Until recently she was captive and subject to all the tyranny of the Communist regime, an irreducible opponent of Religion, the Family, and Property. Thus, for half a century she suffered hunger, misery and persecution under the Soviet boot. Finally, the sun of independence dawned on her and she consequently saw once again the road open for a return to her civilization and former prosperity, of which the Communist regime had ruthlessly deprived her.
Immediately thereafter, Lithuania affirmed her independence, established her government, and began her reconstruction.
Frustrating the vain hopes to which his policy of “perestroika” had given rise in the West, Gorbachev violated the sovereignty of that newly reborn nation. And under the pretext that her children refused to serve in the USSR’s army – which they deemed a foreign army – he ordered reactions in Lithuania to be crushed.
2) Communist tanks were then deployed against a completely defenseless people who were solely encouraged by their spiritual weapons: the Catholic Faith and an unflagging determination to ensure their independence.
Thus, with hymns of faith and patriotism unarmed crowds rose in Lithuania as living barriers against Soviet tanks and did not retreat even when – to the astonishment of their Kremlin-sent aggressors and of the world – they saw their first victims savagely trounced; and yet they did not abandon the field of honor.
What was left, then, for the Moscow government to do? Aware that continuing their genocidal attack would raise the righteous indignation of all free peoples against Gorbachev, the Kremlin disowned the assault, attributed its responsibility to the commander of Communist forces based in Lithuania, and ordered part of their recently-deployed paratroopers to be withdrawn.
But... there it a “but”. Days later, the Interior Minister, colonel Boris Pugo, mentioned in a KGB statement as one of the leading instigators of the ferocious action by Russian troops in Lithuania, was made a general. Thus, no sooner had the Kremlin disowned the recent Soviet brutalities in Vilnius –with an obvious advantage for Mr. Gorbachev’s image in the West – than the person “guilty” for them was promoted to the rank of general. That made clear how inconsistent their slap-on-the-wrist had been. To violence was added duplicity.
3) It was in this very unfavorable atmosphere that President Vytautas Landsbergis, the Lithuanian Head of State, called on his people to hold a loyal and courageous referendum designed to give each Lithuanian an occasion to freely decided on whether they wanted to continue under the Kremlin’s Communist domination or move forward – whatever the risks might be—on the glorious path of national independence.
That referendum, Most Holy Father – as both Your Holiness and the whole world know – was held in a completely smooth and orderly fashion. And after a likewise exemplary vote counting, the results before God and men, facing the present and future that awaits their country, were as follows:
a- 90.47% of the votes favored independence: yes, full, complete and immediate independence, naturally.
b- 6.56% of the voters opposed independence;
c- 84.52% of the voters went to the polls.
4) Once that is said and proclaimed, either all free nations on earth solicitously flock to back the independence of Lithuania, immediately establish diplomatic relations, setup embassies in Vilnius, and welcome the opening of Lithuanian embassies in their capitals or they will hesitate, procrastinate, and perhaps only a few will take heart and defend that small and glorious nation against what the media insist on presenting as the Soviet “colossus.”
But nations that falter will implicitly recognize they themselves have no clear and indisputable right to their freedom. For he who hesitates today to recognize the indisputable rights of the weaker, automatically calls into question analogous rights he may have to defend himself tomorrow against the same aggressor, only made stronger.
A country that watches another being attacked but sits on its hands and says nothing about it, denying the clear and indisputable rights of others simply because their aggressor is powerful, will have nothing to argue in its own defense when attacked.
5) At the moment I have the honor of presenting to Your Holiness these considerations on such high and noble topics—I am sending an almost identical letter to all Heads of State of the free world—it is my view that, though being a sovereign state the Vatican is not a power prone to impose its will by the force of arms or the weight of gold. Its influence on men stems from factors that are much less tangible but capable of profoundly affecting the human race and thus make Your Holiness one of the greatest potentates on earth. Undoubtedly, the greatest of these potentates if we add to the aforementioned factors the action of grace and the protection of Him who uttered to Peter the words that will last until the end of the world: “Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam, et portae inferi non praevalebunt adversus eam” (Matt. 16:18).
It is in view of this transcendent power that I take the liberty of addressing Your Holiness as I write to the highest leaders of Western nations. Thus, I ask Your Holiness to contact the legitimate Lithuanian government based in Vilnius as soon as possible in order to effectively establish diplomatic relations between the Holy See and that heroic nation, and start arrangements for opening embassies in your respective capitals.
6) I believe that the object of this request—so dear to the wishes of a vast majority of men—vibrates with peculiar intensity in the heart of Your Holiness, who will do everything for the Lithuanian people—a people of heroes of the Faith—to soon have the joy of welcoming the Vatican diplomatic representation, with a jubilation that one can easily imagine. For if a diplomatic corps accredited to any country must be viewed by it as a precious ring, the Pope's embassy is always the gem on that ring.
May Your Holiness deign to accept my thanks in advance for all that You may to in this luminous regard. Kissing the Fisherman's Ring with veneration, I remain Your Holiness’
Most devoted son,
in Jesu et Maria
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
President of the National Council
Rua Maranhão 341
01240 - São Paulo - BRASIL
Vilnius, January 13, 1991 – a Soviet tank charges against the Lithuanian people