Page 1, 18th February 1949

18th February 1949
Page 1
Page 1, 18th February 1949 — "THIS OUTRAGE WOUNDS THE CHUR

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Locations: Budapest, Rome


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The Pope Says Of Cardinal's Trial

Addressing an Extraordinary Secret Consistory on Monday last, February 14, 'the Pope utterly condemned the arrest, the mock trial and the savage sentence of Cardinal Mindszenty, expressed his full confidence in the Cardinal and in the Bishops of Hungary.

Sixteen Cardinals gathered in Rome for the almost unprecedented Extraordinary Consistory held in the Consistorial Hall at the Vatican. The hall was cleared of all persons but the Cardinals when the Pope entered and the doors were locked. The Cardinals sat on straight-backed benches in a semi-circle round the Papal Throne, which faced the tall crucifix in ivory and ebony at the far end of the hall.

After speaking for 25 minutes the Pope rang a silver bell and left the hall; the Cardinals' red hats were brought to them by attendants, and this almost unprecedentedly solemn pronouncement from the Papal Throne was over.

In his address to the Cardinals, quickly made available in official translations to the world Press, the Pope made the following important points in regard to the trial 1 (1)—The " full light of publicity did not shine over the trial " and those who seemed likely and able to " judge impartially " were refused admission to it.

(2)—The speed with which the trial of the Cardinal and six other persons was conducted gave "ready reason for suspicion."

(3)—" The physical condition of the Cardinal " was " inexplicable except as a result of secret influences which could not be publicly revealed."

(4)—The one object of the trial was " to disrupt the Catholic Church in Hungary " by smiting the shepherd of the flock.

(5)—The Pope branded " as completely false" the charge that the Holy See had advised or ordered opposition to the Hungarian Republic.

(6)—The Pope reaffirmed his " unflinching confidence " in the Hungarian bishops.

(7)—Lastly, the Pope stressed as the lesson for the whole world the truth that " it is only sacred religion which can moderate the rights and duties of citizens " and truly defend civic and personal liberty.

The full text of this most important pronouncement of the Holy Father is given below.


WE have convoked this extraordinary Consistory to-day in order to unfold to you our soul which is crushed with most bitter grief. You will readily understand the reason for this sorrow. It concerns a most serious outrage which inflicts a deep wound not only upon your distinguished College and on the Church but also on every upholder of the dignity and liberty of man.

AS soon as ever we knew that our beloved son Joseph Mindszenty, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, Archbishop of Esztergom, was cast into prison in bold deliante of the reverence due to religion, le sent a loving message to the Hungarian hierarchy in which we publicly and solemnly protested, as our duty demanded, against the injury done to the Church.

At present. Veen things have come to such a pass that this most worthy prelate has been reduced to supreme indignity and condemned like a criminal to life imprisonment, we cannot but repeat this solemn protest in your presence.

We are prompted to do this primarily on behalf of the sacred rights of religion which this valiant prelate tirelessly propounded and so strenuously and courageously defended. And because the unanimous opinion of free peoples, expressed in speeches and writings even by leaders of nations and by those who do not belong to the Catholic Church, has been given the fullest light of publicity.

(1) Lack Of Publicity

BUT, as you are aware, the full

light of publicity did not shine over the trial of this prelate who deserved so well of all, in defending the religion of his ancestors and in the restoration of Christian morals. In fact, from the beginning, the news that arrived caused alarm.

People outside Hungary who asked permission to be present at the trial were refused permission if they seemed likely to judge impartially or give a sincere report.

This led them to believe, and all upright and honest men as well, that those who were conducting the trial in Budapest seemed to be afraid to allow us all to see what was taking place. Justice which is worthy of the name does not begin with prejudices and is not based on a decision previously taken, but it gladly admits of free discussion and gives every one due facility for thinking, believing and speaking.

(2) Speed Of Trial (3) Condition Of The Cardinal

BUT although the facts have not been reliably made known or reported clearly and completely, we cannot omit to mention the judgment which all civilised people have passed on this trial.

Referring particularly to the speed with which it was conducted, thus suggesting ready reason for susmelon; to the accusations captiously and deceitfully contrived: and to the physical condition of the Cardinal. This is indeed inexplicable except as a result of secret influences which could not he publicly revealed; to prove this there is the fact that a man endowed with the full vigour of a forceful nature suddenly appears so weak and mentally unbalanced that he conducted himself as though he were making charges against himself but not against those who accused and condemned him.

(4) To Disrupt The Hungarian Church

IN all this matter, one thing alone

stands out clearly ; the principal object of the trial was to disrupt the Catholic Church in Hungary and precisely for the purpose set forth in Sacred Scriptures: " I shall smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad." (Matthew xxvi, 31.) While with sorrow in our heart we deplore this very sad event and entrust it in a sense to public opinion and the tribunal of history for final judgment, we are doing what the outraged rights of the Church and the dignity of the human person clearly demand.


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