Venerable Cardinal József Mindszenty
The Congregation for the Causes of Saints also announced today that Pope Francis had authorized the promulgation of a decree declaring that Hungarian Cardinal József Mindszenty possessed heroic virtue.
This means the he will now be known as “Venerable,” the first major step towards beatification.
In a Feb. 13 statement, Cardinal Péter Erdő, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest and primate of Hungary, said the Hungarian Church has “learned with immense joy” the news of today’s papal decree, adding that it is an “important step towards beatification.”
Cardinal Erdő pointed out that it is now possible to “study the graces received and the miracles” obtained through the cardinal’s intercession, and that the “positive result” of this is that it will show Cardinal Mindszenty to be not only an example of Christian heroism, but “someone who can support us with his effective intercession.”
He added that that being able to declare the cardinal “venerable” is a “special grace” after decades of “prayer and commitment,” and he expressed his gratitude to the Pope.
“There is great, great joy at this news,” said Hungary’s ambassador to the Holy See, Eduard Habsburg.
For five decades and with great faith and courage, Cardinal Mindszenty fought at considerable personal cost for religious freedom in Hungary and was implacably opposed to both fascism and communism in the country.
During the Second World War, the Church of Hungary’s “Prince-Primate” was imprisoned by the Nazis and then tortured by the country’s Communist regime. In 1949, he received a life sentence for his opposition to Marxist rule and persecution.
Freed in 1956 following the Hungarian Revolution, he was granted political asylum in the United States embassy in Budapest, where he would spend the next 15 years confined to the embassy compound.
He regained freedom in 1971, lived in exile in Vienna, and died in 1975 at the age of 83.
Documentation pertaining to his cause for beatification was sent to Rome in 1996.
During those years in which Cardinal Mindszenty was holed up in the embassy, an arrangement which was opposed by some in diplomatic circles, he never let up campaigning for freedom and human rights.
In his “semi-captivity,” he wrote a large number of letters and messages, sent through diplomatic channels, to four US presidents and their secretaries of state.
The missives, documented in a recent book called Do Not Forget This Small Honest Nation, contained political advice on how to defend Hungary and Eastern Europe from Soviet Bolshevism.
In particular, he consistently advocated for human rights and expressed his concern for the fate of thousands being persecuted by the Kadar regime that ruled Hungary after 1956.
As well as the causes of Blessed Newman and Cardinal Mindszenty, the Vatican also announced today papal decrees advancing six other causes.