Although the storm of protest over Pope Paul's decision to sack Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty from his post as Primate of Hungary has now abated, the feeling persists among Hungarian exiles that the Vatican has "sold out" to the Cornmunists.
Their fears will be confirmed when the Cardinal's memoirs are published in Germany later this year, for these are expected to attack Communism and the new Vatican policy of "dialogue" with East European political leaders.
It was partly concern over the effects the memoirs would have, on Church-State relations that prompted Pope Paul to declare the Cardinal's Sec of Esztergom vacant on February 5 and to appoint Mgr Laszlo Lekai as Apostolic Administrator.
In a letter sent to the Cardinal, who is 81 and has lived in Vienna since 1971, the Pope said he had taken his decision "after prolonged reflection, and solely in the pastoral interests of Hungarian dioceses," Pope Paul thanked Cardinal Mindszenty for his work, assuring (3sim of "great benevolence and paternal esteem." Referring to the Cardinal's imprisonment. From 1948 to 1956, he said "such serious suffering represented a crown of thorns placed on your head, and this was no less precious than your faithfulness to the Church of Christ."
The Pope added: "We bow to you with profound respect and thank you from the bottom of our heart for the numerous examples of courage which you have shown over so many years to the entire Church," In a public message issued in Vienna Cardinal Mindszenty emphasised that his retirement was not Voluntary.
Through an aide, who read his statement to journalists, he said: "Some news agencies have reported the Vatican decision as if Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty has gone voluntarily into retirement.
"The news agencies also report that before the Papal decision there was an exchange of letters between the Vatican and the Cardinal-Archbishop, who now lives in Vienna.
"From this many got the impression that there was a bilkeral agreement about the decision.
"The Cardinal did rust retire either from his Archbishopric or his post as Primate of Hungary. The decision came from the Holy See alone."
Cardinal Mindszenty added that the appointment of bishops and apostolic administrators, earlier announced by the Vatican, did not solve the problems of the Hungarian
Church. He hit out at restrictions on Church freedom in Hungary, especially in schools and the appointment of government-approved "peace priests" to important Church jobs.
At the Vatican Prof. Federico Alessandrini. the Press officer, said that Church authorities had misgivings about the Cardinal's intention to publish his memoirs, in which he is likely to air his staunchly antiCommunist political views.
Prof. Alessandrini said: "The announcement of the publication of his memoirs and some of his thoughts on the function, not properly religious. of the Primate did not contribute towards calming the situation."
Prof. Alessandrini also said that Cardinal Mindszenty had passed the age of 75, when bishops normally offer their resignation to the Pope, and that his diocese had in effect long been vacant.
The Vatican statement, clearly couched in conciliatory terms to avoid the danger of a bitter open dispute, paid praise to the Cardinal's performance as Primate and his ordeals in HungAry.
In Switzerland exiled Hungarian Catholics expressed "amazement and consternation" at the decision to. remove the Cardinal. A letter to the Pope. signed by Chairmen Of parish councils at Hungarian Catholic •missions in Switzerland, said that the exiles felt the Pope seemed to show little understanding of the Hungarians' tragic position.
The letter described Cardinal Mindszenty as "the last hope of ,a people which has lost so much in a succession of tragedies in the 20th century" and called on the Pope to reconsider his decision.
In Rome a group of young Right-wing Catholics staged a demonstration against the move, Two youths who chained themselves to railings outside St. Peter's Basilica, were released by Vatican guards who detained them for several hours.
Cardinal Mindszenty spent eight years as a prisoner of the Communists and a further 15 years in self-imposed confinement in a small flat on top of the United States legation — later embassy in the centre of Budapest.
Though Hungarian by birth he is of' German ancestry. But he changed his family name from Pehm to Mindszenty during the Second World War as a protest against the atrocities committed under the Nazis.
In 1971 the Vatican finally persuaded him to leave Hungary in the interests of the Church so as to clear the way for better relations with the Hungarian government.
Cardinal Mindszenty paid a four-day visit to Britain in July, 1973, at the invitation of Cardinal Heenan, He nowlives in a seminary for Hungarian priests in Vienna. Newsanalysis — p.3 Leader comment — p4 Newsanalysis — p.3 Leader comment — p4