Student Martyrs Under Nazism Seen as Models for World Youth Day

«White Rose» Cost Them Their Lives in Wartime Germany

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COLOGNE, Germany, DEC. 17, 2003 ( Student martyrs who stood up to Nazism would make good models for participants in World Youth Day 2005, says a Church official in Germany.

Monsignor Helmut Moll of the Cologne Archdiocese, a theological consultor of the Vatican Congregation for Sainthood Causes, made that suggestion about the wartime «White Rose» martyrs, according to the Italian bishops’ SIR news agency.

«If I had to suggest a model of holiness for Cologne WYD 2005,» he said, «I would choose the White Rose youths — Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic students of Munich who, in 1942, fought to defend the dignity of man and religion in face of Nazism.»

The Munich youths «had understood that [Nazism] represented a great threat and opposed it clearly in six leaflets, taking positions against the deportation of Jews,» explained Monsignor Moll, who was the vice postulator of the cause of canonization of Edith Stein and Nicholas Gross.

«The leaflet, which they circulated in German cities and universities, were signed with a ‘white rose.’ When they were discovered, they were all killed,» he said.

«They were youths rich in faith, with a profound ecumenical vision. Although they lived at a different time, they are of enormous importance» at present, said the priest. He is the author of the 20th-century German martyrology, which lists more than 700 people recognized as martyrs by the Church.

In the priest’s opinion, «Our society is poor in Christian models; therefore, as the Pope has said, we need figures who are an example of faith, hope and charity. These martyrs are real models of faith who have something to say to all our young people.»

He added: «Events such as WYD are a special occasion to show that one can be a witness of faith even though one is young.»

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