But Hungary's Catholics packed their churches
By DOUGLAS HYDE AS all Hungary was recalling how, just two years ago, Cardinal Mindszenty was at this very time being 66 conditioned " in jail in preparation for his farcical trial, 14 Cistercian monks were last week taken from their life of contemplation and thrown into jail for similar " conditioning." Already their superior, Abbot Endredy, had been arrested with a view to the staging of a " trial " along the lines of that recently conducted in Prague and aimed at the intimidation of the religious orders.
Cistercian houses in Zerc, Pees, and Budapest.
There is every indication that the Communists are making elaborate preparations for the Abbot's trial, which will serve to strike a blow for the isolation of the entire Hungarian episcopate and to implicate the Holy See as " an enemy of the people's republic."
They hope in due course to have the arrested monks 1` conditioned " to a point where it will be possible to use them as prosecution witnesses.
As long ago as last November, Deputy Premier Rakosi, the Communist Party boss. declared that the Abbot " could end up like Rajk." Laszlo Rajk was the former Communist Minister of Interior and Foreign Affairs, who was executed in October, 1949, as a " Tito-ist, Western spy and conspirator."
Abbot Endredy is one of the best known of Hungary's Church leaders and is a close friend of the imprisoned Cardinal Mindszenty.
Hungary's Catholics are currently being given a sharp reminder of what can be achieved in the Communists' jails by the emergence into the news of Mgr. Miklos Beresztobzy, who is also a former associate of Cardinal Mindszenty.
Mgr. Beresztoczy appeared at the Communist-organised World Peace Congress at Warsaw. where he was described by some news agencies as "Archbishop of Esztergom."
The story behind his appearance in such company and in such circumstances is a grim one.
He was a conscientious priest of Cardinal Mindszenty's Esztergom diocese, absolutely loyal to his Church.
Then, in 1949. he was imprisoned for six months.
After his release he was a completely changed man, apparently willing to be the creature of Hungary's Red rulers.
He was among the first of those few Hungarian priests supporting the Communist movement.
He came into the news when the regime suggested hint as " acceptable " to themselves for the post of administrator of the diocese after the death of Mgr. Drahos on June 15, 1950. Mgr. Drahos had been appointed Vicar General by Cardinal Mindszenty and continued in that post after the Cardinal's imprisonment.
The Communists' suggestion that Mgr. Beresztoczy be appointed was made to the Cathedral Chapter which met to elect a Vicar Capitular. However, the Chapter was about to reject the request and to elect Mgr. Charles Gigler when the Government, becoming aware of this intention, immediately arrested him.
The Chapter met again and this time named Bishop Meszlenyi, Auxiliary of Esztergom, as Vicar Capitular.
He. too, was arrested.
Apparently. with the idea of forestalling further arrests, the Chapter then agreed to name Mgr. Beresztoczy.
The Holy See intervened and appointed an Apostolic Administrator, with the immediate consequence that Mgr. Beresztocey ceased to govern the diocese.
The prelate named by the Holy See was 60-year-old Bishop Andrew Hamvas, a well-known opponent of Communism.
Mgr. Beresztoczy continues to support Communist causes and was a contributor to the first issue of the Communists' recently-launched magazine for priests which they have blasphemously named "The Cross."
But, refusing either to he intimidated. demoralised or bemused, the Hungarian Hierarchy continue to provide spiritual leadership for a laity strong in the Faith.
A joint Christmas pastoral letter read at crowded Christmas Midnight Masses contained a stirring plea for prayers for peace.
It will be recalled that, when first the Communists behind the Iron Curtain began to use their bogus "peace" campaign against the Church. Hungary's 'Bishops forestalled them with a clear and inspiring definition of the Christian attitude to true peace.
This time they called, in an extraordinary pastoral issued a few days before Christmas. for special devotions for peace in all churches throughout the country.
Then, in the packed churches on Christmas Eve another pastoral letter was read.
"Let there he peace," they said. " Let there be men of goodwill. Let them love justice. Let them give up hatred. Let peace reign in families, in society. between nations.
" Let there he a living faith that we are children of one Father . . . We confide in Him and beseech His Sacred Heart to keep away the terror, slaughter. devastation. miseries, violence and demoralising effect of war and to replace the reign of violence with the Kingdom of God, the rule of eternal peace."
The huge crowds receiving the Blessed Sacrament. displayed a fervour which has found expression. too, in the large numbers of families. parents and children who attended 6 a.m. Mass throughout the Advent season before going to work.
Theirs was the most effective possible answer to the campaign conducted by the Communists to brand Advent as a " capitalist superstition " and to make Christmas a secular occasion