Anti-Nazi Bishop a Step Closer to Beatification

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2003 ( The Catholic Church recognized the heroic virtues of Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen, a major opponent of Nazism in Germany.

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The recognition moves him a step closer to beatification. Von Galen was named bishop of Muenster in 1933, the year Hitler came to power.

From the start of his episcopal ministry, the bishop opposed the regime’s policies against the Church, as well as the introduction of neo-pagan rites. His energetic preaching earned him the nickname «Lion of Muenster.»

In 1934 he refuted the thesis of Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg and, in 1937 the prelate worked to spread Pope Pius XI’s encyclical «Mit Brennender Sorge,» aimed at Nazism.

On several occasions, beginning in 1941, he declared himself against the euthanasia of mentally ill people, as well as against the racial policy of the Nazi regime.

He died at age 68, on March 22, 1946, one month after Pope Pius XII made him a cardinal.

The ceremony of the recognition of his «heroic virtues» took place Saturday in the Vatican, in the presence of John Paul II. Cardinal von Galen would be beatified once the Church recognizes a miracle attributed to his intercession.

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