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József Mindszenty

Mindszenty, József (mĭndˈsĕntē) [key], 1892–1975, Hungarian prelate, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was bishop of Veszprém during the German occupation of Hungary in World War II. His anti-German attitude led to his imprisonment for several months by the Hungarian puppet government. After the war he was made archbishop of Esztergom and Catholic primate of Hungary, and in 1946 he was raised to the cardinalate. A strong opponent of Communism, Mindszenty was arrested by the Hungarian government late in 1948 on the charges of treason and illegal monetary transactions. At a sensational public trial Mindszenty pleaded guilty to most charges. It was widely held that his confession had been obtained by drugging him, because he had disclaimed in advance any confession he might make in case of arrest. The court sentenced him to life imprisonment. Released from prison because of ill-health in 1955, Mindszenty was kept under close watch. During the Hungarian revolution he was freed by rebel forces. When the revolt was crushed, he took refuge in the U.S. legation and thereafter refused to leave Hungary unless the Hungarian government rescinded his conviction and sentence. In 1971, after an agreement between the Vatican and the Hungarian government, Mindszenty left Hungary for the Vatican. Shortly afterward, he settled in Vienna. In 1974, in an effort to improve church relations with Hungary, Pope Paul VI removed him as primate of Hungary. A selection of his writings was published as Cardinal Mindszenty Speaks (1949).

See his Memoirs, (tr. R. Wilson, C. Wilson, and J. van Heurch, 1974); biographies by S. K. Swift (1950) and J. Vecsey (1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Austria and Hungary, History: Biographies


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