Page 2, 1st October 1971

1st October 1971
Page 2
Page 2, 1st October 1971 — Cardinal Mindszenty

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People: Paul, John
Locations: Warsaw, Budapest, Rome


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Cardinal Mindszenty

CONTINUED FROM PAGE I Cardinal Mindszenty reached the Vatican at 3.30 p.m. (Rome time) and had an emotional meeting with Pope Paul, who was awaiting him outside the Tower of San Giovanni in the Vatican gardens, not far from the Pope's own apartments.

The Pope and Cardinal embraced and then the Pope led Cardinal Mindszenty into the Round Tower, which the late Pope John had had prepared for himself as a summer retreat, and where Cardinal Mindszenty will live until plans for his future in Rome are finalised.

The fact that an apartment was already prepared for Cardinal Mindszenty shows that the Pope and the Vatican were well aware of when the Cardinal was expected and that arrangements for his departure from Budapest must have been made between the Holy See and the Hungarian Communist government reasonably well in advance.

Vatican reports are that it was Pope Paul himself who finally insisted that Cardinal Mindszenty should give in and come to Rome. and that the Cardinal "generously agreed," although he would have much preferred to remain with his own people.

A diplomatic correspondent writes:

Ever since 1948 or so diplomatic circles felt that the Holy See had concluded that Communist regimes had become a permanent fact of history and that it was thus in the interest of the Church to come to terms with them.

The first effort in this sense was made in Poland and led to the release from internment and the re-establishment in the See of Warsaw, of Cardinal Wyszynski. A policy of the same kind has been since applied, but much less successfully to Czechoslovakia and has been attempted, too, in Hungary.

In the latter the stumblingblock was the steadfastness of Cardinal Mindszenty. Compromise for him with principles or truth was simply out of the question, and he enjoyed the aura of a man who had suffered for his convictions, and of a spiritual leader who had stood up for the freedom of his people and his land. His only weakness was to have en joyed for too long the benefits of asylum offered him by the American Legation in Budapest where he had taken refuge fifteen years ago or so.

Unfortunately he did not realise that by remaining there he was causing embarrassment in the relations of two temporal powers, and handicapping the evolution of the Hungarian Government towards a position more like that of Rumania. Had he done so, and decided to walk out at the risk of solving the problem of his position by facing up to the Hungarian authorities, he would have made himself one of the greatest heroes of the century and triumphantly vindicated his own principles.

Now he has bowed to conditions the Vatican has obtained for his release. These, as far as one can see, are remarkably good. The Cardinal remains indeed Archbishop of Ertzegorom and Primate of Hungary in title. Yet he is out of the way, and rendered powerless.

What are the consequences going to be? Presumably an easing of the tension between

official Catholicism in Hungary and the Government.

The Holy See will obtain a few concessions on paper and perhaps in fact on schools, on the Catholic press, on Seminaries. The impression in Rome is that means may have been solved for diffusing the faith. But the fear persists that in Hungary itself, genuine and fervent believers will be disheartened.

For theirs is a faith that does not compromise; that does not admit that their country may be run by atheists and on marxist principles; and who suspect any cleric who is resigned to the present situation. Hence the visible church as a whole may reap an advantage from Cardinal Mindszenty's submission, but the local spirit, integrity and the dynamism of the faith will have been weakened by the compromise involved.

The big question now is Cardinal Mindszenty's future. He is four years older than the age at which Pope Paul has invited Bishops to offer him their resignation and just one year off the age of eighty at which the Pope has stipulated that Cardinals can no longer vote at the election of a new Pope or take part in the running of sacred congregations that make up the Roman Curia.

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