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The Mindszenty Case

(14 February 1949)

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 7, 14 February 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The bureaucratic police mind, routinized and unimaginative, sticks to a pattern. Thus, the Stalinist trial of Cardinal Mindszenty could not fail to evoke in all minds the past staged trials with their inevitable “confessions” that have become a trade-mark of the Kremlin and its agents.

There is no institution more authoritarian and reactionary than the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But the methods of Stalinism are so repugnant as to give weapons to reaction. In the Mindszenty case, the Stalinists have given the Catholic priest-caste an opportunity to arouse, in the name of “democracy,” a veritable lynch hysteria against anyone the Church labels “communist.” The Stalinists have fed fresh fuel to the witch-hunt, purges and frame-up trials being staged in this country.

We must be careful, however, not to let our complete rejection of Stalinist methods in this case as in everything else lead us into support of the campaign of the Catholic hierarchy and U.S. imperialism which represents itself as a defense of “democracy” and “free institutions.” Their indignation is not directed at Stalinist methods. It was not Stalinism but Catholicism that invented the system of “heresy” and “inquisition.”

We cannot say whether Mindszenty is guilty of the specific acts to which he confessed. But what could he confess that could be any worse than the facts long known about him and the role of the Vatican in Hungary? It is a matter of historical record that the Hungarian hierarchy has been the chief supporter of monarchism. It was Mindszenty himself who negotiated the Vatican’s concordat with Regent Horthy, the bloody dictator of Hungary, in return for state support of the Catholic Church. Mindszenty from the beginning has been the bitterest opponent of the redistribution of Hungarian land, since the Vatican was the largest land-owner in Hungary, exploiting tens of thousands of virtual serfs on its 1,500,000 acres.

Those who are now so loud in their “moral indignation” about the imprisonment of Mindszenty, this Prince of the Church, never uttered a peep about the outrages of Horthy, supported by Mindszenty and the Vatican, who murdered thousands of workers and peasants opposed to his regime. They have never said, nor do they say today, one word in “moral indignation” against the continued daily executions of anti-fascist workers and peasants in the “Catholic Kingdom” of Dictator Franco to whom Pope Pius XII a few weeks ago again sent his “blessings.” Yes, and where were their outcries, their demands for U.S. intervention, when Stalin was carrying through his Moscow Frame-up Trials? It makes a difference to these “democrats” and “moralists” whether Stalin persecutes Bolshevik? or a Prince of the Roman Catholic Church.

Do you want to know what the Catholic hierarchy and the capitalist statesmen really think about frame-ups? Read what they said about those “atheistic anarchists,” Sacco and Vanzetti, when these working class fighters were framed and executed by the ruling class of Massachusetts during the wave of anti-red reaction in the 1920’s. What did these champions of the abstract principles of “justice” in the Mindszenty case have to say about the frame-up and imprisonment of the 18 Socialist Workers Party leaders during the war? What do they say about the persecution and frame-up trial of the 12 American Communist Party leaders today? Supporters of the crimes of Horthy, Franco, Mussolini and the frame-ups perpetrated in this country are utterly disqualified to pass judgment on the crimes of Stalinism.

No class conscious worker who understands Stalinism, of course, will take the slightest responsibility for any Stalinist-run trial, no matter who is in the dock. But neither will he give a penny’s worth of credit or support to the Catholic hierarchy’s attempt to whip up a lynch hysteria against “communism” around the “martyrdom” of Mindszenty.

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