The practice of beatification and canonisation by the Catholic Church is not so much for the personal glorification of the beatified or canonised but rather for the inspiration and edification of those of us still on this earth. The beatification in Rome on 9 October 2005 of Cardinal Clemens August von Galen is one such example.
With the beatification of this generous pastor, the Church invites us to imitate, amid the vicissitudes of our times, his brave and faithful witness. Cardinal von Galen was a model of fearless opposition to euthanasia and the pro-life movement is grateful to the Holy Father for honouring such heroic pro-life witness.
Recalling his life, LifesiteNews records that Cardinal von Galen, called the "Lion of Munster", was best known for his stand against Hitler which was ignited mainly through his defeat of Hitler's program of euthanasia for the mentally and physically disabled. Historians relate that Hitler's eugenics policy called for euthanasia of those with incurable diseases. By 1940 bus loads of unsuspecting victims were taken to medical centres for extermination.
The then Bishop von Galen's famous 3 August 1941 sermon against the euthanasia program is regarded as a turning point. Using language today's pro-lifers will find very familiar, Bishop von Galen condemned the attempt "to give legal sanction to the forcible killing of invalids, cripples, the incurable and the incapacitated."
He said, "Once admit the right to kill unproductive persons, then none of us can be sure of his life. A curse on men and on the German people if we break the holy commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' ... woe to us German people if we not only license this heinous offence but allow it to be committed with impunity." By the end of August the euthanasia program was cancelled.
While Nazi leaders contemplated killing the good bishop, they were too concerned about a public uprising, given his vast popularity among the people. This should be of enormous encouragement to today's Catholic bishops. We live in parallel times. Do we have a Lion of Munster in today's Church in Australia?
Cardinal von Galen died in his bed. He was not shot at dawn. Nor will, I suspect, any bishop who today takes on the Australian Government and calls for an end to today's silent holocaust of abortion.
DENISE M. CAMERON
Pro Life Victoria