The Vatican’s Congregation of the Causes of Saints has been given the okay by Pope Francis to publish a decree “recognising the heroic virtues” of the late Cardinal József Mindszenty, clearing another hurdle in his beatification process, the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference said on Wednesday.
The pope’s decree marks the end of an important stage in Mindszenty’s beatification process. The process may be continued when a miracle is attributed to the venerated bishop.
Cardinal Péter Erdő, Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, welcomed the publication of the decree, noting that Mindszenty can now officially be referred to as “venerable”.
Mindszenty was appointed to Bishop of Veszprém by Pope Pius XII in 1944. Protesting against the Nazi genocide, he was arrested in late 1944 and kept in prison in Sopronkőhida. Following the second world war, he was appointed to archbishop of Esztergom, then to cardinal.
In late 1948 he was arrested by the Communist authorities and sentenced to life imprisonment under false charges of conspiracy, espionage and financial abuse. The sentence brought protests from the Pope and leaders of western powers. In April 1949 it was criticised by the UN General Assembly, too.
The physical and mental trials and tribulations of his prison years came to an end after the 1956 revolution broke out. Giving a radio speech on November 3, Mindszenty stressed the idea of national independence and democracy. On November 4, 1956, the first day of Soviet intervention, the cardinal took refuge in the US Embassy in Budapest. Threatened with arrest, he could not leave the building until 1971.
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Mindszenty was then allowed to leave Hungary under an agreement between Hungarian authorities and the Vatican. The cardinal first went to Rome before settling in Vienna. He died in 1975 and was buried in Mariazell, Austria.
After Hungary’s Supreme Court declared him innocent in May 1990, his remains were returned to Hungary and reburied into the crypt of the Esztergom Basilica.