The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HYDE PARK, Tuesday—As one reads the story of the imprisonment of the Primate of Hungary, Cardinal Mindszenty, one wonders why the Soviet Union allows such utterly stupid people to take control in the countries where they impose a Communist government after a political coup.

Probably the two most disciplined groups opposing each other today are the Communists and the Roman Catholics. I have no idea whether the Primate of Hungary is a Jesuit or not, but there is certainly no more spiritually disciplined person than a Jesuit priest.

Today in the countries taken over by the Communists in Europe, it would look as though the firmest resistance was being waged by the priests and laymen of the Roman Catholic Faith. In many cases, of course, the Protestant groups are very much smaller and less powerful, and it is understandable that they may be forced to make compromises.

But it is a very stupid thing for the Soviet deputies to attack a man who was the center and the symbol of resistance during the Nazi occupation. Cardinal Mindszenty helped to save many Jews, and now since the Communists have overthrown the broadly based government representing different political groups, which was first established in Hungary after the Yalta Conference, we find the Russians throwing this man of fearless actions into jail.

We find the Hungarian regime, in fact, indulging in the very things which we hoped had come to an end in Russia itself. For instance, Catholic groups were banned in July 1946. In the 1948 elections Catholics were disenfranchised, the reasons being somewhat curious. One frequently used was to declare the would-be voter insane. It may be said that anyone who dared to vote against the Communists might be considered insane.

The Cardinal's stand was taken, of course, on the right to maintain Catholic schools. This reminds me of the insistence of some of the Europeans in Committee Three (Social Council) at the recent United Nations General Assembly meetings in Paris. They stressed the importance of putting into the Bill of Human Rights a clause in the article on education stating that parents have a right to choose the type of education their children should be given. The reason the advocates of these words gave was that Hitler forced so many children to be educated in a manner that turned them against their parents and away from the beliefs, both religious and political, that the parents held.

I have no recollection that the Soviets put up any very effective fight against this clause, but in the light of what is happening in the various countries under their political and military control it is quite evident that is another of the articles which they never would be able to accept.

I have sometimes thought that during the period when a country was actually fighting for independence there might be some justification in imprisoning even a clergyman if he seemed to be taking an active political part against the government in power. That, however, is not the case in Hungary today. There is no excuse for the action that has been taken by the government and, since in Hungary the government is practically under the control of Russia, the Soviet Union cannot escape the blame.

E. R.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 5, 1949

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.