This week a 95-year old lawyer received the news he had been waiting for his whole life. The Supreme Court of Hungary declared his client innocent: a priest who was imprisoned by the Communist government in 1949 for a false accusation of embezzlement.
Gyorgy Schirilla is perhaps the oldest active lawyer in Hungary. For 55 years he waited for an answer to his appeal of the conviction of Fr. Miklos Nagy.
“I am happy, it was worth it after all,” said Schirilla, although he expressed his sadness that his client was not vindicated before his death. Fr. Nagy died 31 years ago.
The priest was tortured and imprisoned for three years because of a false accusation of not depositing Church money amounting to $24,000 and 20,000 Swiss franks. At the time accounts in foreign currency were frozen by the government.
His imprisonment was part of a persecution launched by the Communist government of Hungary against the Catholic Church and against Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty.
Schirilla recalled that during a visit with his client, Fr. Nagy revealed “his greatest regret was not that the broke nine of his fingers, but that after releasing him they sent him (despite being a priest) to serve in a remote part of the country.