Hungary's communist dictator summoned priest before dying

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Nov. 23, 2010 19:03
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Janos Kadar (C), General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party (HSWP), visits the grainfield of the "White Acacia" Cooperative Farm during his tour of Dabas, a few kilometers south of Budapest, on July 11, 1985.
Photo by AFP
BUDAPEST, Nov. 23 (Reuters Life!) - Hungary's last communist dictator Janos Kadar met a priest at his own request shortly before he died, former Hungarian Prime Minister Miklos Nemeth revealed on Tuesday, two decades after Kadar's death.
"Aunt Mariska (Kadar's wife) called me: 'My husband wants a priest' she said," Nemeth, who headed the country's last Communist-era government in 1988-1990, told Reuters.

"I still remember the Catholic priest whom I found, he was a short man called Biro, I think," he added.

"I don't know whether Kadar 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."

Nemeth said this happened in late May or early June, 1989.

Kadar died on July 6, 1989, on the day that Hungary's Supreme Court rehabilitated Imre Nagy, Hungary's prime minister under the 1956 uprising against the Soviet Union, who was hanged in 1958 after Kadar restored the country's communist regime.

Churches were allowed to exist in the former Soviet bloc but the communist regimes were hostile to religion.

"This (Kadar's request) struck all of us as a complete surprise," Nemeth said.

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