Statement to the Press by the Secretary of State1

No. 77

The trial of Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty, upon whom the Hungarian Government has now imposed a sentence of life imprisonment confirms the Government and people of the United States in the views expressed by the Acting Secretary of State on December 29, 1948,2 By this conscienceless attack upon religious and personal freedom, as well as by the persecution of Lutheran Bishop Lajos Ordass and other respected Church leaders, the Soviet controlled Hungarian authorities seek to discredit and coerce religious leadership in Hungary in order to remove this source of moral resistance to Communism.

In their conduct of the case of Cardinal Mindszenty, the Hungarian authorities do not appear to have omitted any of the usual methods practiced by a police state. Such proceedings constitute not the administration of justice but wanton persecution. They have evoked universal condemnation, and the Hungarian Government must bear full responsibility for its action.

The cases of Cardinal Mindszenty and other Hungarian church leaders are not isolated developments. During the past two years, with governmental power entirely in the hands of the minority Communist party, the people of Hungary have been increasingly denied the exercise of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Parliamentary opposition, an element indispensable to the democratic process, has been ruthlessly eliminated, the totalitarian controls of State and Party have been laid like a deadening hand upon every phase of daily personal existence, and the Hungarian people have been divested of any real independence.

The people of the United States, and, without question, peoples of other freedom loving nations, are sickened and horrified by these developments and fully comprehend the threat they constitute to free institutions everywhere.

  1. The Secretary of State read this statement at his press and radio news conference of February 9. During the press conference, the Secretary acknowledged that the United States was considering bringing the Mindszenty case and other developments in Hungary before the United Nations for action. The Secretary also took official cognizance of the accusations made against Minister Chapin during the Mindszenty trial, and he rejected them as “totally false, baseless, and outrageous”.
  2. Regarding the statement under reference here, see editorial note, p. 451.