*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 28th of March 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
Today’s show is not about Hawaii. I shouldn’t have gone off the cuff on yesterday’s show. Hawaii, we will tell your story soon.
But in the vein of promising a later show on the current show, today I will introduce you to Cardinal Josef Mindszenty- and then, this weekend (where I can do whatever I want!) I am going to expand his story. As always, you NEVER have to listen to a different show to hear the story on the show you are listening to (I try to keep away from serialized shows just as I try to avoid the podcast curse of talking for a long time just because you can… I digress).
Let me give you the view of Hungary from 10,000 feet.
I will never tire of reminding you that World War I changed everything. Everything. Including the status of a few historical empires and kingdoms. The German Reich was crushed (obvs, they had a slight resurgence trying to put together a sequel). The Ottoman Empire was done for, as was the once-mighty kingdoms of Austria and Hungary (who had been the mighty Austro-Hungarian Empire in the lead up to WWI).
Hungary would come under the rule of Bela Kun- he was a Hungarian soldier captured by the Russian Empire- while he was imprisoned, he adopted the views of his fellow prisoners who had been arrested for being communists).
So- you have a communist leader, and in 1920 the treaty of Trianon carved up the once mighty Empire and gave away Hungarian lands to Czechs, Romanians, and Yugoslavia. This angered Hungarians, who found themselves sympathetic to the Nazis and their demands for a homeland.
By 1938 the Hungarians were in league with Hitler’s Germany. By 1944 the Nazification of Hungary was complete with the rise of the Arrow Cross party- of course, in 45, the war was over, and the Communists came back to power.
Until 1956 when an uprising led by Imre Nagy deposed the communists. For a short time. The communists would come back in power but would slowly liberalize up to the fall of the Soviet Union.
So- with that background- Jozef Mindszenty was born in Hungary on this the 29th of March, in 1892. His family was well off, and he was privately schooled and went to seminary in 1911. He was ordained in 1915.
When the new communist leadership under Bela Kun came to power, Mindszenty was arrested for criticizing the communists.
Later, when the Nazis were in power for a brief period, they arrested him.
Then when the Communists came back into power after World War II, he was arrested again.
In 1956 with that brief Revolution, he was freed again. But knowing how fast the winds could change, he sought asylum at the American embassy in Budapest, Hungary. He would stay there for 15 years in embassy exile (you are free on those grounds, but you cannot leave).
In 1971 Richard Nixon helped smooth relations with the priest, the Pope, and the Communists. The Pope annulled his ex-communications with the Hungarians, and Mindszenty moved to Austria, who served his home base for four years until his death in 1975 at the age of 83.
I have been digging around for a good Cold War story to tell on the Weekend Edition, and this show not only gives us some good Cold War fun, but it also starts with Nazis. And if the college registration practices of students tell me anything, it is that Nazis and the Cold War are always popular topics.
And there are some interesting avenues to investigate- but the top line story for me is a Catholic Cardinal fighting both the Utopian urges of the Nazis and Communists. In that historic battleground where nazis and communists waged battle. On account of this, he became a man without a home- an exile.
I won’t suggest he was a perfect hero (despite being portrayed by Alec Guinness in a 1950s spy film). And part of what the Weekend Edition allows us to let stories breathe a little more. BUT- today, we remember the remarkable character on the 130th anniversary of his birth OTD in 1892.
The Last Word for today comes from 1 Timothy 2:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 28th of March 2022, brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who knows Hungary as the birthplace of the ballpoint pen, the carburetor, and the Rubik’s Cube. He is Christoper Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who reminds you that while we associate Paprika with Hungary- it came from the Americas by way of Spain- up through the Ottoman Empire, and then via Hungary. It’s just the dried skin of red peppers, and it’s really good. I’m Dan van Voorhis
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.