VERITAS Research Institute for History and Archives

A book premiere at the Hungarian National Museum

22 March 2016

At 3 PM, on March 22nd, 2016, in the ceremonial hall of the Hungarian National Museum, the fourth volume in the VERITAS Books series will be introduced to the wider public. Written by Ádám Somorjai OSB (Ordo Sancti Benedicti) and VERITAS’ Tibor Zinner, A Szabadság térről Washingtonon át a Vatikánba – és vissza (From Freedom Square to the Vatican via Washington – and Back) looks at Cardinal József Mindszenty’s correspondences with the pope and other Vatican officials while living at the American Embassy in Budapest as a political refugee. Archbishop of Kalocsa-Keskemét Balázs Bábel and Eötvös Loránd University Rector Barna Mezey will acquaint the audience with the book.

József Mindszenty, Archbishop of Esztergom and Prince Primate of Hungary, spent almost fifteen years at the American embassy in Budapest, between 1956 and 1971. In the early years the Americans did not allow him to stay in touch with – as they referred to it – “his spiritual leaders”. In 1962, by which time it had become clear that a solution to the Archbishop’s plight, his potential departure from the embassy, would not be put forward by the Vatican, the letters he wrote first to Pope John XIII, and then to his successor Pope Paul VI, and to the bishops grew in number. Since the Vatican archives remain inaccessible for the time being, the authors have used copies of these correspondences stored at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration to translate into Hungarian the 119 letters and 79 messages found in their book. Through these correspondences the Cardinal’s thoughts and viewpoints are revealed on any number of topics: including, for example, János Kádár, Hungary’s communist leader; abortion statistics during the communist era; the Humanae Vitae, the encyclical written by Pope Paul VI; his status as a refugee; Trianon; and his jurisdiction as Prince Primate. Mindszenty believed that Rome should make no changes – nihil innovetur – while communism endured. (He believed communism would not.) This volume is the second, and larger, collection of Mindszenty’s correspondences. It adds to the story that the authors have already shared apropos of his letters to American presidents and secretaries of state. In contrast to those written to America’s political leadership, Mindszenty’s letters to the Vatican were often answered, which the Americans received and then forwarded via diplomatic channels – Apostolic Nunciature. As such American diplomacy was always well informed about Mindszenty’s viewpoints.

At the same time the volume provides the reader with an unbiased view (via source documents) of the Vatican’s Eastern Bloc foreign policy (Ostpolitik).