Cardinal József Mindszenty (pronounced yor-zhef meend-sen-tee) (1892_1975) was a Hungarian Cardinal and steadfast opponent of the Hungarian communist regime.
Mindszenty was born József Pehm on March 29, 1892, in Csehimindszent, Austria-Hungary. He became a priest in 1915. In 1917 the first of his books, Motherhood, was published. He was arrested under the Béla Kun government in 1919. He adopted his new name - part of his home village's name - in the 1930s.
He also joined the Smallholder's Party in this period, in opposition to the Fascist Arrow Cross. He was arrested again in 1944 for his opposition to the government, and charged with treason.
On March 29, 1944, he was consecrated bishop of Veszprém.
In April 1945 he was released from prison. Later that year he was appointed Primate of Hungary and Archbishop of Esztergom (the seat of the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary).
On December 26, 1948, he was arrested again and accused of treason, conspiracy, and offences against the current laws. Shortly before his arrest he wrote a note to the effect that he had not been involved in any conspiracy, and any confession he would make would be the result of duress.
On February 3, 1949, his trial was opened. On February 8, Mindszenty was sentenced to life imprisonment for treason against the Hungarian Communist government. His "confession of guilt" is believed to have been a result of drugging and torture. He had refused to permit Roman Catholic schools in Hungary to be secularised. At his trial he declared the note he had written about statements made under duress to be null and void. On February 12, Pope Pius XII announced the excommunication of all persons involved in the trial and conviction of Mindszenty.
On October 30, 1956, during the Hungarian Uprising, Mindszenty was released from prison and he returned to Budapest the next day. On November 2 he praised the insurgents. The following day he made a radio broadcast in favour of recent anti_communist developments. When the Soviets invaded Hungary again on November 4, Mindszenty sought Imre Nagy's advice, and was granted political asylum at the US embassy in Budapest. He then rejected requests by the Vatican to leave Hungary for many years. It was only in 1971, upon the entreaty of US President Richard Nixon, that Mindszenty moved to Vienna, Austria, where he spent his last years.
In 1974 he retired from his posts and published his memoirs. He died May 6, 1975, in Vienna.