By DOUGLAS HYDE A world already shocked by the vici ous sentence passed last week on Cardinal Mindszenty learned, only two days later, that 15 leaders of the United Evangelical Church in Bulgaria were to face charges almost identical to those which sent the Hungarian Primate to life imprisonment. Among these latest victims of the Communists' anti-religious drive were leading members of the Congregational, Methodist, Baptist and Pentecostal connections. And, as in Hungary, Britons and Americans are again alleged to be implicated.
It is clear that the Bulgarian Communists deliberately followed up the sentencing of the Cardinal with the idea of rendering world public opinion punch drunk as it were.
But the combined effect has been a widening of the direct interest in the Eastern European religious persecution, a revulsion comparable to that which followed the put,wli jn Czechoslovakia twelve months ago and a growing conviction that an effective check on Communist activities must be found.
Some observers, remembering how Protestants have been wooed—and won--by the Communists in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, have been mystified by the events in Bulgaria.
But primarily the attack is not on the Catholic Church as such but upon all religion. And so, where the Church is strong it is the Protestants who are temporarily cultivated and played off against the Catholics. But where the Protestants are numerically strongest it is they who are first attacked.
From inside Hungary practically no news has come since the Cardinal was sentenced and it would appear that the Communist government is waiting to see whether the storm it has started abroad quickly reveals itself as being just wind or whether the Western Powers mean business.
But a story designed to place responsibility for the Cardinal's fate upon the Vatican has been told by Josef Revai, editor of the Communist paper Szabad Nep, who claimed that the Vatican was informed of the entire evidence held by the prosecution," and told that if the Cardinal was removed from his position no action would be taken against him.
A Budapest official spokesman gave the date of the offer as December 18. Yet the whole of the prosecution's evidence presented in court was obtained after the arrest of the Cardinal on the night of December 26 in the shape of letters and documents alleged to have been written
Carried_ over to back page