"Lion of Muenster" to Be Beatified

Cardinal von Galen Linked to Cure of Indian Student

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MUENSTER, Germany, NOV. 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, the «Lion of Muenster,» is headed for beatification after the Holy See recognized a miracle attributed to his intercession.

The Diocese of Muenster confirmed the news, reporting that the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, meeting this week, definitively recognized the miracle attributed to the prelate (1848-1946).

The decision confirms the results of a theological and a scientific commission that had recognized the miracle earlier this year. The congregation will announce its conclusions in a public audience in the presence of John Paul II.

«This announcement should take place days before the feast of Christmas,» a statement issued by the diocese affirms. The Pope will then sign the decree and decide on the date for the beatification ceremony.

The miracle attributed to the future blessed involves Henrikus Nahak, a student from India, who was pronounced cured by medical doctors in 1995, after asking for the intercession of the cardinal.

The prelate earned his name when, as bishop of Muenster during the Hitler regime, he spoke out in defense of the rights of the poor and the sick, and protested strongly against euthanasia, the seizing of monasteries and convents, the persecution of Jews and the expulsion of religious.

In a homily on Aug. 3, 1941, «he narrated in detail how the sick were killed, in houses especially prepared for this end, and how family members were given false information on the way their dear ones died,» said Father Giovanni Sale, a historian at the Gregorian University.

«The homily had a profound impact on the civil population and among German soldiers, who were fighting at the front,» the priest said. «The Nazi leaders reacted with violence to the bishop’s denunciation. Some called for von Galen’s execution, [who was] accused of high treason.»

However, so as not to cause uprisings in the civilian population and among many Catholic soldiers, Hitler gave an order on Aug. 3, 1941, to «block officially the implementation of the euthanasia program,» Father Sale said.

«In the following years, despite Hitler’s order, euthanasia continued to be practiced in some particular situations; but the program was not resumed on a large scale,» the historian continued.

The bold action by the Lion of Muenster provided consolation for Pope Pius XII, who read his homilies, and who communicated this to German bishops in 1941, according to research done during the beatification process.

In December 1945, Pius XII told visiting priests from Westphalia that he considered Bishop von Galen a hero.

On Christmas Eve 1945, Vatican Radio announced that the bishop would be made a cardinal at the consistory of Feb. 18, 1946. He died a month later, on March 22.

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