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Catholic Herald Correspondents
VATICAN CITY THE Vatican's agreement with the Hungarian Communist government, signed in Budapest on Tuesday, is only a partial settlement and does not add up to a modus vivendi, say Vatican sources. But a more formal state of co-existence now exists between the Church and the Hungarian regime. The agreement also paves the way for the release of Cardinal Mindszenty and his departure for the Vatican Council.
The Vatican press office issued an official announcement which did not mention the 72-year-old Primate, who has been in sanctuary in the 'U.S. Legation in Budapest since the 1956 uprising, But Vatican sources said that the thorny question of his departure from Hungary for Rome is under separate consideration, and this week's agreement is a big step towards his release—possibly within a month.
Negotiations have been long and secret. The first moves were made under Pope John's auspices, and the talks have been led on the Church's side by Mgr. Agostino Casaroli, of the Vatican Secretariat of State, who has made frequent visits to Budapest, and who signed the agreement with Mr. Joszef Pratner, president of the Hungarian State Office for Religious Cultural Affairs.
According to the Vatican communiqué, the agreement and an attached protocol "contain some practical conventions, assurances and commitments on some of the questions dealt with. The two parties declared themselves willing to continue the exchange of views, with the aim of reaching more complete understanding."
The announcement gave no details of the agreement, but Vatican sources said it provided for (1) the appointment of new bishops for vacant Sees in Hungary; (2) guarantees of more freedom for practising Catholics; and (3) an easing of restrictions on Catholic priests, who at present need government permission to preach in church.