Hungary’s communist leader Kádár summoned priest before dying
Hungary’s last communist leader János Kádár met a priest at his own request shortly before he died, former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklós Németh revealed on Tuesday, two decades after Kadar’s death.
“Aunt Mariska (Kádár‘s wife) called me: ‘My husband wants a priest’ she said,” Németh, who headed the country’s last Communist-era government in 1988-1990, told Reuters.
(Photo: Hungarian leader János Kádár in London, November 1, 1985/B. Smith)
“I still remember the Catholic priest whom I found, he was a short man called Bíró, I think,” he added.
“I don’t know whether Kádár atoned to him or what he told him, you can’t ask a priest about such things. There is no way to find out now — everybody has died since.”
Németh said this happened in late May or early June, 1989. “This (Kádár‘s request) struck all of us as a complete surprise,” he said.
Kádár came to power in 1956, following the Hungarian uprising against the Soviet Union and the Soviet invasion to restore communist rule. He died on July 6, 1989, on the day that Hungary’s Supreme Court rehabilitated Imre Nagy, Hungary’s prime minister during the uprising who was hanged in 1958 .
(Photo: Hungarian protesters on a tank in Budapest during the uprising against the Soviet-supported Hungarian communist regime in 1956/Laszlo Almasi)
Churches were allowed to exist in the former Soviet bloc but the communist regimes were hostile to religion. The head of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal József Mindszenty, lived as a political refugee in the United States embassy in Budapest from 1956 to 1971, when the government let him leave for exile in Austria.