Addendum to ”A Different Kind of Anniversary”


Last month, we wrote about Bishop Meszlényi Zoltán.  We regretfully neglected to mention that he was beatified in 2009, one of ”6 Hungarian bishops martyred in the 20th century”. 

We also need to mention that the cause for beatification of Byzantine rite Bishop Chira Sándor of Munkács (1897-1983), has been started.  He had been consecrated in secret, but was found out soon thereafter, was then sentenced to 25 years at forced labor in Siberia.  While he was allowed to make a couple of brief visits home, he was forbidden to return for good.  He spent the rest of his life in exile, ministering to Germans in the Volga region, and died in Karaganda, another of those ”dry martyrs” mentioned by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.

The first person to whom Archbishop Sheen applied that term was Cardinal Mindszenty József (1892-1975).  He was arrested by the Communist Secret Police in December 1948 and treated with drugs (brainwashed) so he would admit to the trumped-up charges of crimes against the state.  His show trial in early 1949 sent shock waves around the world.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was freed by the Freedom Fighters in 1956.  When the Russians beat down the Hungarian Revolution, the Cardinal fled to the American Embassy in Budapest, where he stayed for 15 years.  He left only at the express command of the Pope in 1971, and died in exile in Austria.

Although not dying for the faith, he was still a shining witness, and his beatification was expected at the International Eucharistic Congress scheduled for Budapest last fall.  That was postponed because of the Covid pandemic, and so was  the beatification.

There are two additional Hungarian bishops who we know gave their lives for the faith:

Bishop Gojdics Péter Pál (1888-1960), of Eperjes, who after the ”Treaty” of Trianon (1920) became the Bishop of all Byzantine Catholics in Czechoslovakia.  When the Communists took over, he was arrested, together with his Auxiliary Bishop, Hopkó Bazil (see below) on trumped-up charges and sentenced to life in prison. He died in a prison near Pozsony (since 1920 called Bratislava), in 1960.  He was beatified in 2001.

The other was Byzantine rite Bishop Hopkó Bazil, Bishop Gojdics’ Auxiliary (1904-1976).  He survived Communist persecution and prisons for 26 years.  Traces of arsenic were found in his remains, showing that he was poisoned over a period of time. He was beatified in September 2003.