A grand tribute to József Cardinal Mindszenty by Reagan biographer Paul Kengor at National Catholic Register:
“Cardinal Mindszenty was the crime fighter.”
I’ll always remember those words shared with me by William Clark, a devout Catholic and the most important aide in President Ronald Reagan’s campaign to take down the Soviet Union and win the Cold War.
Clark himself opposed those same criminals and pointed to other heroes of the faith in that effort, such as the likes of Fulton Sheen and Pope John Paul II.
What Clark told me about Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty really intrigued me. I was Protestant at the time and had been a mere child when Cardinal Mindszenty died in 1975 at the age of 83. I was unaware of the depths of what Cardinal Mindszenty had endured.
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.
Go here to read the rest. Cardinal Mindszenty and his beloved Hungary performed an invaluable service in the dark days of the Cold War by demonstrating that Communism was not the future, but rather a dark passage that free men and women would make their way through, in God’s good time, and emerge from into freedom again. The thirst for freedom that the hand of God places in each human soul can be held down by force for a time, but it never can be killed forever. Something to remember during this year of grace in which we observe the thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and recall how the Hungarian freedom fighters, thirty-three years before, unforgettably reminded the world that Eastern Europe would not stay in chains forever.