Sunday, May 15, 2011

"Let Us Be Good With Everyone": In Germany, A Blessed Martyr

Sixty-eight years after he died of starvation and disease at Dachau, early on this "Good Shepherd Sunday" brought the beatification of the German priest Georg Haefner, whose death at the hands of the Nazis was judged to be "in odium fidei" -- out of "hatred for the faith" -- and, thus, has seen his designation as a martyr.

One of nearly 500 German and Austrian clerics to be jailed, Hafner's reported offense was to preach against the rise of the Third Reich.

With this morning's rites, the new Blessed (1900-42) becomes the fourth member of the fold who perished in the concentration camps to be raised to the honors of the altar, following Saints Maximilian Kolbe and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), and Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, the Austrian farmer who was executed for refusing to be conscripted into Hitler's army. (Another lasting light of the era was now-Blessed Cardinal Clemens August von Galen (1878-1946), the "Lion of Munster" whose preaching against the Nazis during the war exposed the regime's manifest evils.)

While the Vatican's lead saintmaker, Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB, was dispatched to preside at the ceremonies in the cathedral of Haefner's native Wurzburg, Der Deutschpapst -- that is, B16 -- commemorated the occasion at his noontime Regina Caeli with these words:
Amid the tumult of Nazism, Georg Hafner was present as a faithful pastor, sacrificing his life to feed his flock, leading many people to the waters of life in the proclamation of the truth and the administration of the sacraments.

He forgive his tormentors from his heart, for as he wrote to his parents from prison: "Let us seek to be good with everyone." Let us entrust ourselves to his intercession, so that we too may hear the voice of Christ, the good shepherd, and so be led to life and joy in abundance.
In Germany, Bl Georg's feast will be observed on the date of his death, 20 August.