VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The retired primate of Hungary, Cardinal Laszlo Paskai, died Aug. 17 at the age of 88. He led the Catholic Church in Hungary as the country moved from communism to democracy at the end of the 1980s.
Born in Szeged, Hungary, in 1927, as a young man he experienced first the Nazi, then the Soviet occupations of his homeland.
He entered the Franciscan order in 1945 and studied theology in Gyongyos. Although the communist government banned most religious orders and severely limited the number of members and ministries of the remaining orders in 1950, the future cardinal was ordained to the priesthood for the Franciscans in 1951.
After earning a doctorate in theology in Budapest, he returned to Szeged, where he first became secretary to the bishop, then a philosophy professor at the local seminary. Later, he taught philosophy and served as spiritual director at Budapest’s central seminary and was appointed rector in 1973.
Blessed Paul VI made him a bishop in 1978, naming him apostolic administrator of Veszprem. A year later he became bishop of the diocese. In 1982, St. John Paul II named him coadjutor of the Archdiocese of Kalocsa.
The pope named him archbishop of the primatial see of Esztergom-Budapest in 1987 and made in a cardinal the following year.
He retired in 2002.
In a statement posted on the archdiocesan website, his successor, Cardinal Peter Erdo, recalled how Cardinal Paskai led the church through a period of difficult, but exciting changes, and he was the one who arranged for the body of Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty to be returned to Hungary and buried in Esztergom in 1991.
In 1971, Cardinal Mindszenty, then 79, was forced into exile after suffering torture and imprisonment under the communists and spending 16 years as a refugee in the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.
He left Hungary pledging he would not set foot again in his homeland until the demise of communism. At ceremonies marking the return of his body, Cardinal Paskai told the crowds, “In these moments, his wish is coming true after 20 years.”
Cardinal Paskai’s death leaves the College of Cardinals with 219 members, 120 of whom are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103