Monday, March 11, 2019

A Venerable Crime Fighter

Many Catholics today know little of that dramatic story. Now, however, with the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and Pope Francis having announced that Cardinal Mindszenty was declared “Venerable” Feb. 13, a major step toward beatification, Catholics everywhere should learn of the man’s heroic struggle. 
“A quiet, rugged fighter,” Clark told me one summer day — three decades after he had hosted an aging Cardinal Mindszenty in California on behalf of Gov. Reagan. “The foremost clergyman in the fight against communism.” 
The so-called primate of Hungary had been persecuted first by occupying Nazis during World War II before suffering worse and longer torment by the occupying Bolsheviks who followed in 1945. In 1949, the communists were sick and tired of this uncompromising defender of the Church. They beat him, tortured him, drugged him, tried to force a “confession” from him, subjected him to a classic show trial, and slammed him with a life sentence. It was an outrageous injustice. Pope Pius XII excommunicated all involved in the farce. 
Then came the events of October-November 1956, when Soviet Red Army troops invaded Hungary to crush the nation’s uprising of freedom fighters trying to liberate their country from the jackboot of atheistic communism. This smothering totalitarianism had robbed them of everything from private property to freedom of religion. Soviet communism was a criminal enterprise, just as communism remains so in the 21st century in North Korea and Cuba. 
The October-November 1956 uprising in Hungary sprung Cardinal Mindszenty momentarily free. After Soviet tanks succeeded in killing thousands of Hungarians, Moscow clamped down tighter. Cardinal Mindszenty could have seized the opportunity to flee for safer environs outside the Iron Curtain, as did huge numbers of Hungarians amid the chaos, but he refused. He would stay there with his people. He was granted political asylum in the U.S. Embassy in Budapest. Cardinal Mindszenty’s plight did not go unnoticed outside Hungary.
Bishop Fulton Sheen in 1957 devoted an entire Life Is Worth Living TV broadcast to the man he called “The Dry Martyr of Hungary.” “In the 20th century, there is a new kind of martyrdom,” said Bishop Sheen. In the past, Christians had been martyred by murder; they were soaked and marred with wet blood. 
“The old martyrs were wet martyrs,” said Bishop Sheen. The martyring of Cardinal Mindszenty, by contrast, was not. He was being slowly annihilated without being bloodied. The communists excelled, said Bishop Sheen, at producing “dry martyrs, who suffer brainwashing and mental torture for their faith.” (Read more.)

No comments: