Benedict XVI Praises Memory of Bishop Who Defied Nazism

On the Day of Beatification of Cardinal von Galen

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI presented newly beatified Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, a German bishop who defied Nazism, as a model for believers.



In his address at the midday Angelus, the Pope explained that the new blessed left a perennial message: "Faith cannot be reduced to a private sentiment, which, perhaps, is hidden when it becomes something uncomfortable; rather, it implies coherence and witness in the public realm in favor of man, justice and truth."

Earlier today, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, presided over the beatification Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and, by request of the Holy Father, read the apostolic letter with which the Pope inscribed Clemens August von Galen (1878-1946) in the catalogue of the beatified.

At the end of the celebration, in which thousands of German pilgrims filled the basilica, the Pope went to the Altar of the Confession to venerate the cardinal's relics and pay homage to his "heroic courage to defend the rights of God, of the Church and of man, which the National Socialist regime was violating in a grave and systematic way, in the name of an aberrant neo-pagan ideology."

Later, the German-born Benedict XVI dedicated the start of his weekly Angelus greeting to pilgrims to recall the biography of the "Lion of Muenster," who spoke out against Adolf Hitler.

The bishop of Muenster "protected the Jews and the weakest people, whom the regime considered as debris that had to be eliminated," recalled the Holy Father.

Eucharistic strength

Benedict XVI recalled that Pope Pius XII elevated Bishop von Galen to cardinal in February 1946.

The German died a month later, "surrounded by the veneration of the faithful, who recognized in him a model of Christian courage," said Benedict XVI.

In the homily at the beatification Mass, Cardinal Saraiva Martins explained that von Galen drew from the Eucharist the strength to offer his testimony.

To "the deafening martial music and the empty phrases of the megaphones from the speakers' platforms," the cardinal said, "he countered with the veneration of the holy Eucharist."