| Cardinal Archbishop of Esztergom |
Prince Primate of Hungary
József Mindszenty in 1974
|Archdiocese||Archdiocese of Esztergom|
|Metropolis||Archdiocese of Esztergom|
|See||Archdiocese of Esztergom|
|Appointed||2 October 1945|
|Term ended||19 December 1973|
|Predecessor||Jusztinián György Serédi|
|Other posts||Cardinal-Priest of Santo Stefano al Monte Celio (1946-74)|
|Ordination||12 June 1915|
by János Mikes
|Consecration||25 March 1944|
by Jusztinián György Serédi
|Created cardinal||18 February 1946|
by Pope Pius XII
|Birth name||József Pehm|
|Born||29 March 1892|
|Died||6 May 1975 83) (aged|
|Denomination||Catholic (Roman Rite)|
|Coat of arms|
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
|Title as Saint||Venerable|
|Reference style||His Eminence|
|Spoken style||Your Eminence|
Ordination history of
|Part of a series on|
| Persecutions |
of the Catholic Church
József Mindszenty [jo:ʒɛf mindsɛnti] (29 March 1892 –6 May 1975) was the Prince Primate, Archbishop of Esztergom, cardinal, and leader of the Catholic Church in Hungary from 2 October 1945 to 18 December 1973. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, for five decades "he personified uncompromising opposition to fascism and communism in Hungary". During World War II, he was imprisoned by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross Party. After the war, he opposed communism and the communist persecution in his country. As a result, he was tortured and given a life sentence in a 1949 show trial that generated worldwide condemnation, including a United Nations resolution. After eight years in prison, he was freed in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and granted political asylum by the United States embassy in Budapest, where Mindszenty lived for the next fifteen years. He was finally allowed to leave the country in 1971. He died in exile in 1975 in Vienna, Austria.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's oldest continuously functioning international institution, it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
Hungary is a country in Central Europe. Spanning 93,030 square kilometres (35,920 sq mi) in the Carpathian Basin, it borders Slovakia to the north, Ukraine to the northeast, Austria to the northwest, Romania to the east, Serbia to the south, Croatia to the southwest, and Slovenia to the west. With about 10 million inhabitants, Hungary is a medium-sized member state of the European Union. The official language is Hungarian, which is the most widely spoken Uralic language in the world, and among the few non-Indo-European languages to be widely spoken in Europe. Hungary's capital and largest city is Budapest; other major urban areas include Debrecen, Szeged, Miskolc, Pécs and Győr.
The Encyclopædia Britannica, formerly published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., is a general knowledge English-language encyclopaedia. It was written by about 100 full-time editors and more than 4,000 contributors. The 2010 version of the 15th edition, which spans 32 volumes and 32,640 pages, was the last printed edition.
Mindszenty was born on 29 March 1892 in Csehimindszent, Vas County, Austria-Hungary, to József Pehm and Borbála Kovács. His father was a magistrate.He attended St Norbert's Premonstratensian High Grammar School in Szombathely, before entering the Szombathely Diocesan Seminary in 1911.
Csehimindszent is a village in Vas County, Hungary.
Austria-Hungary, often referred to as the Austro-Hungarian Empire or the Dual Monarchy, was a constitutional monarchy in Central and Eastern Europe between 1867 and 1918. It was formed when the Austrian Empire adopted a new constitution; as a result Austria (Cisleithania) and Hungary (Transleithania) were placed on equal footing. It dissolved into several new states at the end of the First World War.
The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest ranking government officers, and possessed both judicial and executive powers. In other parts of the world, such as China, a magistrate was responsible for administration over a particular geographic area. Today, in some jurisdictions, a magistrate is a judicial officer who hears cases in a lower court, and typically deals with more minor or preliminary matters. In other jurisdictions, magistrates may be volunteers without formal legal training who perform a judicial role with regard to minor matters.
Mindszenty was ordained a priest by Bishop János Mikes on 12 June 1915, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In 1917, the first of his books, Motherhood, was published. He was arrested by the republican Mihály Károlyi government on 9 February 1919 for speaking out against its 'socialist policies' and then rearrested by the communist Béla Kun government on 31 July.
Count Mihály Ádám György Miklós Károlyi de Nagykároly was briefly Hungary's leader from 1918 to 1919 during the short-lived First Hungarian People's Republic. He served as Prime Minister between 1 and 16 November 1918 and as President between 16 November 1918 and 21 March 1919.
Béla Kun, born Béla Kohn, was a Hungarian Communist revolutionary and politician of Jewish heritage who was the de facto leader of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in 1919. Following the fall of the Hungarian revolution, Kun emigrated to the Soviet Union, where he worked as a functionary in the Communist International bureaucracy as the head of the Crimean Revolutionary Committee from 1920. He was an organizer and an active participant of the Red Terror in Crimea (1920–1921), following which he participated in the March Action (1921), a failed socialist uprising in Germany.
In 1939, he urged his followers to vote against the Arrow Cross Party. In 1940, he published a pamphlet, "The Green Communism", in which he characterised the Hungarian Nyilas Nazi Movement as a diabolic movement, as evil as the communists. The green colour was the colour of the Nyilas uniform. (Paksy, 213-215. p).
In the middle of a Germanisation campaign amongst Germans living in Hungary, he adopted his new Hungarian name—part of his home village's name—in 1941. On 25 March 1944, he was consecrated bishop of Veszprém. He organised a letter to the Nazi authorities urging them not to fight in Western Hungary; he also protested in favour of converted Jews to Miklós Horthy. He was arrested on 27 November 1944 for his opposition to the Arrow Cross government's plan to quarter soldiers in parts of his official palace. In April 1945, with the collapse of the Arrow Cross's power, he was released from house arrest at a church in Sopron.
Germanisation is the spread of the German language, people and culture. It was a central plank of German conservative thinking in the 19th and 20th centuries, during a period when conservatism and Ethno-nationalism went hand-in-hand. In linguistics, Germanisation also occurs when a word from the German language is adopted into a foreign language.
The Arrow Cross Party was a far-right Hungarist party led by Ferenc Szálasi, which formed a government in Hungary known as the Government of National Unity. They were in power from 15 October 1944 to 28 March 1945. During its short rule, ten to fifteen thousand civilians were murdered outright, and 80,000 people were deported from Hungary to various concentration camps in Austria. After the war, Szálasi and other Arrow Cross leaders were tried as war criminals by Hungarian courts.
On 15 September 1945, he was appointed Primate of Hungary and Archbishop of Esztergom (the seat of the head of the Catholic Church in Hungary). On 21 February 1946, Archbishop Mindszenty was elevated to Cardinal-Priest of Santo Stefano Rotondo by Pope Pius XII, who reportedly told him, "Among these thirty-two you will be the first to suffer the martyrdom symbolized by this red color."
Primate is a title or rank bestowed on some archbishops in certain Christian churches. Depending on the particular tradition, it can denote either jurisdictional authority or (usually) ceremonial precedence.
Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, was head of the Catholic Church from 2 March 1939 to his death. Before his election to the papacy, he served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio to Germany, and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany.
To the ruling Hungarian Working People's Party, Mindszenty was regarded as the archetypal figure of "clerical reaction". He continued to use the traditional title of prince-primate (hercegprímás) even after the use of noble and royal titles was entirely outlawed by the 1946 puppet parliament. [ verification needed ] Since the main source of income for the Church was their agricultural lands, arbitrary and uncompensated confiscations by the communist government left many Church-run institutions destitute. [ better source needed ]He was contacting the US embassy asking them to "engage in activities which were simply not diplomatically proper or politically feasible", and about which he was rebuked by the embassy. Apart from such contacts, the Party accused him of having "aristocratic attitudes" and attacked his demands for compensation following the State seizure of Church-owned farmlands during the Party's campaign to abolish private farm ownership.
The Hungarian Working People's Party was the ruling communist party of Hungary from 1948 to 1956. It was formed by a merger of the Hungarian Communist Party (MKP) and the Hungarian Social Democratic Party. Ostensibly a union of equals, the merger had actually occurred as a result of massive pressure brought to bear on the Social Democrats by both the Hungarian Communists, as well as the Soviet Union. The few independent-minded Social Democrats who had not been sidelined by Communist salami tactics were pushed out in short order after the merger, leaving the party as essentially the MKP under a new name.
Prince-Primate is a rare princely title held by individual (prince-)archbishops of specific sees in a presiding capacity in an august assembly of mainly secular princes, notably the following:
The Hungarian nobility consisted of a privileged group of people, most of whom owned landed property, in the Kingdom of Hungary. Initially, a diverse category of people were mentioned as noblemen, but from the late 12th century only the high-ranking royal officials were regarded nobles. Most aristocrats claimed a late-9th-century Magyar leader for their ancestor; others were descended from foreign knights; and local Slavic chiefs were also integrated in the nobility. Less illustrious individuals, known as castle warriors, also held landed property and served in the royal army. Most privileged laymen called themselves royal servants to emphasize their direct contact to the monarchs from the 1170s. The Golden Bull of 1222 enacted their liberties, especially their tax-exemption and the limitation of their military obligations. From the 1220s, the royal servants were associated with the nobility and the highest-ranking officials were known as barons of the realm. Only those who owned allods – lands free of obligations – were regarded true noblemen, but other privileged groups of landowners, known as conditional nobles, also existed.
Cardinal Mindszenty believed and preached that "The Church asks for no secular protection; it seeks shelter under the protection of God alone".For this reason, he fought fiercely against the state policy to emancipate the Hungarian educational system from Church control by seizing parochial schools.
In 1948, religious orders were banned by the government. Soon after, Hungarian Premier Mátyás Rákosi accused both the Cardinal and the Catholic Church of being "a reactionary force in our country, supporting the monarchy and later the Fascist dictatorship of Admiral Horthy" and of also being, "the largest landowner in Hungary." This, according to Rakosi, was the only reason for Cardinal Mindszenty's opposition to the Party's policy of land confiscation.
On 26 December 1948, Cardinal Mindszenty was arrested and accused of treason, conspiracy, and other offences against the new People's Republic of Hungary. Shortly before his arrest, he wrote a note to the effect that he had not been involved in any conspiracy, and any confession he might make would be the result of duress. While he was imprisoned by the communist government, Mindszenty was repeatedly hit with rubber truncheons and subjected to other forms of torture until he agreed to confess. [ better source needed ]
Cardinal Mindszenty's forced confession included orchestrating the theft of the Crown of Saint Stephen for the sole purpose of crowning Crown Prince Otto von Habsburg as King of Hungary, scheming to overthrow the Party and reestablish Capitalism, planning a third World War, and, once this war had been won by the Americans, assuming supreme political power himself.
Almost alone among the Western news media, reporter George Seldes, who had previously been expelled from the Soviet Union and fascist Italy for his reporting, agreed to the allegations. Seldes would spend the remainder of his long life accusing Mindszenty of being a Nazi collaborator, a Holocaust perpetrator, and a virulent anti-Semite.In his 1987 memoirs, Seldes wrote, "In 1948 the entire American section of the resident foreign press corps in Hungary implored me to report the facts about Cardinal Mindszenty's collaboration with the Nazis, his part in the deportation of the Jewish population to Hitler's death camps, and also to expose the scores of fraudulent news items coming from outside Hungary, from Vienna, London, Prague, and Rome especially, alleging drugging and torturing of the Cardinal."
On 3 February 1949, Cardinal Mindzenty's show trial began. Showing visible signs of having been tortured,[ citation needed ] the Cardinal walked into the court and confessed to all charges. As he followed the trial, a weeping Pope Pius XII told Sister Pascalina Lehnert, "My words have come true and all I can do is pray; I cannot help him any other way." On 8 February, Cardinal Mindszenty was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason and espionage. The government released a White Book Documents on the Mindszenty Case containing his confessions and case materials.
On 12 February 1949, Pope Pius XII announced the excommunication of all persons involved in the trial and conviction of Mindszenty. On 20 February 1949, the Pope addressed a series of questions to "an enormous crowd which had gathered in St. Peter's Square" to protest the Cardinal's show trial and conviction. He asked, "Do you want a Church that remains silent when She should speak; that diminishes the law of God where she is called to proclaim it loudly, wanting to accommodate it to the will of man? Do you want a Church that departs from the unshakable foundations upon which Christ founded Her, taking the easy way of adapting Herself to the opinion of the day; a Church that is a prey to current trends; a Church that does not condemn the suppression of conscience and does not stand up for the just liberty of the people; a Church that locks Herself up within the four walls of Her temple in unseemly sycophancy, forgetting the divine mission received from Christ: 'Go out the crossroads and preach the people'? Beloved sons and daughters! Spiritual heirs of numberless confessors and martyrs! Is this the Church you venerate and love? Would you recognize in such a Church the features of your Mother? Would you be able to imagine a Successor of St. Peter submitting to such demands?"According to Sister Pascalina, who witnessed the rally, "In reply to the Holy Father came a single cry like thunder still ringing in our ears: 'No!'"
In a subsequent apostolic letter, Acerrimo Moerore , the Pope publicly condemned the Cardinal's conviction [ not in citation given ].and described his tortures
On 30 October 1956, during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Mindszenty was released from prison. He returned to Budapest the next day. On 2 November, he praised the insurgents. The following day, he made a radio broadcast in favour of recent anti-communist developments.
When the Soviet Union invaded Hungary on 4 November 1956 to restore the communist government, Cardinal Mindszenty sought Imre Nagy's advice, and was granted political asylum at the United States embassy in Budapest. Mindszenty lived there for the next 15 years, unable to leave the grounds, and did not participate in the conclaves of 1958 and 1963.
György Aczél, the communist official in charge of all cultural and religious matters in Hungary, felt increasingly uncomfortable about the situation in the late 1960s when Mindszenty fell seriously ill and rumors spread of his impending death. Yet Aczél failed to convince party leader János Kádár that freeing Mindszenty would create valuable confusion in the Holy See and allow the state to better control the remaining clergy.
Eventually, Pope Paul VI offered a compromise: declaring Mindszenty a "victim of history" (instead of communism) and annulling the excommunication imposed on his political opponents. The Hungarian government allowed Mindszenty to leave the country on 28 September 1971. Beginning on 23 October 1971, he lived in Vienna, Austria, as he took offence at Rome's advice that he should resign from the primacy of the Catholic Church in Hungary in exchange for uncensored publication of his memoirs backed by the Holy See. Although most bishops retire at or near age 75, Mindszenty continually denied rumors of his resignation, and he was not canonically required to step down at the time.
In December 1973, at the age of 81, Mindszenty was stripped of his titles by the Pope, who declared the Archdiocese of Esztergom officially vacated, but he refused to fill the seat while Mindszenty was still alive. He visited the Hungarian emigrants in 1975 Caracas, Venezuela, and after that Bogotá, Colombia. Just after this visit, he traveled back to Europe feeling himself very ill. Mindszenty died on 6 May 1975, at the age of 83, in exile in Vienna. In early 1976, the Pope made Bishop László Lékai the primate of Hungary, ending a long struggle with the communist government.
In 1991, Mindszenty's remains were repatriated to Esztergom by the newly elected government and buried in the basilica there.
Mindszenty is widely admired in modern-day Hungary for his courage and resolve in opposing the Arrow Cross Party, during Communist imprisonment, and in exile.[ citation needed ]
The Mindszenty Museum in Esztergom is dedicated to the life of the Cardinal. A commemorative statue of Cardinal Mindszenty stands at St. Ladislaus Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, US. [ citation needed ] He is remembered in Chile, with a memorial in the same park (Parque Bustamante) in which a monument to the martyrs of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution stands.[ citation needed ]A monument was donated by the Hungarian community of Greater Cleveland in 1977 and stands at Cardinal Mindszenty Plaza in Downtown Cleveland.
In June 1974, Cardinal Mindszenty visited the Woodside Priory School [ citation needed ] The Cardinal's visit to the San Francisco Bay Area included Mass in December of 1974 at St Raymond Church in Menlo Park, California. Commemorating the Mass by Cardinal Mindszenty, a monument was placed on the parish grounds.in Portola Valley, California. Woodside Priory was founded by seven Hungarian Benedictine monks, associated with Saint Martin's Archabbey in Panonhalma, who fled the repression following the revolution. A bronze memorial has been placed on the school's campus noting his visit.
His beatification and eventual canonization has been on the agenda of the Hungarian Catholic Church ever since communism fell in 1989, and the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI was seen by many analysts as an excellent opportunity, as the Pope had commented favourably on Mindszenty's calling and legacy.[ needs update ]
The cause for the cardinal's beatification opened on 15 June 1993; he became titled as a Servant of God after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints assented to introducing the cause in a decree "nihil obstat" (meaning no objections/impediments). The diocesan process (collecting his spiritual writings and collecting witness interrogatories to attest to his reputation for holiness) opened in Esztergom on 19 March 1994 and later closed on 17 October 1996; the C.C.S. validated the process (as having complied with their regulations) in Rome on 8 November 1999. In 2012 the Hungarian Bishops' Conference reaffirmed their support for continuing the late cardinal's cause for beatification.Theologians voiced their approval for the cause on 14 June 2018.
Pope Francis named him as Venerable on 12 February 2019.
Mindszenty's life and battle against the Soviet domination of Hungary and communism were the subject of the 1950 film Guilty of Treason , which was, in part, based on his personal papers, and starred Charles Bickford as the cardinal.
The 1955 film The Prisoner is loosely based on Mindszenty's imprisonment, with Alec Guinness playing a fictionalized version of the cardinal.
He was reported as disliking the fictional version of his situation.
The two-part 1966 episode, "Old Man Out" of television's Mission: Impossible was loosely based on Mindszenty. The episode's premise was that a Catholic cardinal, a political prisoner and hero to his people, was slated for execution in an Eastern European prison. The series' protagonists were tasked with smuggling him out of the prison and country before he was executed.
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|Catholic Church titles|
| Bishop of Veszprém |
3 March 1944 – 2 October 1945
Jusztinián György Serédi
| Archbishop of Esztergom |
2 October 1945 – 19 December 1973