Last Saturday night at the Drury Lane in Oak Brook, I was edified to receive the Jozsef Mindszenty Award. The Mindszenty Foundation of St. Louis awards this handsome statuette of the Cardinal each year to one whom in its estimation has done a good deal during the past year to defend the Church and its authenticist values. I am deeply honored.
For those too young to remember , Jozsef Mindszenty [1892-1975] was the cardinal primate of Hungary. He became known as a steadfast supporter of Church freedom as well as an opponent of Nazism and Communism and brutal Stalinist persecution in his country. On Dec. 26, 1948 he was arrested and accused of treason, conspiracy and offenses against the current Communist laws of Hungary. He was sadistically tortured while in prison and was sentenced to life imprisonment against the Hungarian government. Pope Paul imposed excommunication on those who tortured Mindszenty. When the Soviets invaded Hungary to put down rebellion, Mindszenty was granted asylum at the U.S. embassy in Budapest. He lived there for 15 years, unable to leave the grounds.
In many respects…the modern Hamlet of the papacy Paul VI was a weak reed in the controversy between Church and Communism. He declared Mindszenty a “victim of history”—not a victim of Communism—and to sweeten Vatican’s relations with the Hungarian communists, Paul annulled the excommunication imposed on Mindszenty’s opponents. The flaccid Vatican continued to persecute Mindszenty in order to court favor with the Communists. It tried to get him to resign the primacy of the Hungarian Church but failed. It sought his resignation but he would never offer it. In December, 1973 Mindszenty was stripped of all his titles by the ultra-compliant Paul who declared Mindszenty’s seat officially vacated but a waffler to the last, he refused to name a successor while Mindszenty was alive. Finally the solicitous Pope named Bishop Laszlo Lekai as primate of Hungary. Lakai was very condescending to the Communists and the tension as ended. It was not the most shining hour for the Church or Paul.
*: St. Marcellinus. [Circa AD 304] Little is known about the priest Marcellinus and his friend Peter him except that they were jailed for their support of and testimony in behalf of Catholicism. While in prison they converted their jail guard and his family. This outraged the authorities and so they were beheaded at a place of execution called Black Wood. They are buried in a catacomb on the Via Lavicana.