Cardinal László Paskai, retired Roman Catholic Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and former Primate of Hungary, died at the age of 88 on Monday morning, the diocese of Esztergom-Budapest has disclosed.
Born in the southern city of Szeged in 1927 to parents of Jewish descent, Archbishop Paskai began his career as a humble Franciscan monk in 1949, later becoming a lecturer in philosophy at Catholic higher education institutions. Ordained a bishop in 1978, he first served in Veszprém, then in Kalocsa and Esztergom before becomign cardinal in 1988.
He chaired the Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference between July 1986 and September 1990. In March 1987, he became Archbishop of Esztergom – a title renamed Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest in 1993 – and Primate of Hungary. Archbishop Paskai was declared a cardinal by Pope John Paul II on 28 June 1988. Having reached the age of 75, he handed in his resignation, which was accepted by the Pope and he was replaced by in the position of Cardinal by Péter Erdő.
According to a study published by the historian Krisztián Ungváry in 2006, Cardinal Paskai reported to Communist-era secret services between 1965 and 1974, writing mainly impersonal and “expressly benevolent” reports. As opposed to other cases, the legend of the agent protecting his fellows is largely reality in Cardinal Paskai’s case, the historian claimed.
The archdiocese will make arrangements on Cardinal Paskai’s funeral at a later date.
photo: László Beliczay/MTI