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An Unknown Hero Has Been Beatified

When the Nazis brought on World War II, Americans knew the Nazis’ war was unjust and immoral. But Catholic bishops in Germany and Austria failed to condemn the Nazis’ unjust and immoral war. As far as we know, the Holy See also failed to explicitly condemn the Nazis’ unjust and immoral war. They were afraid that if they did, the Nazis would increase their persecution of Christians. (See Charles J. Gangi’s article in this issue for the details of Pope Pius XII’s wartime Christmas addresses.)

Franz Jagerstatter, an Austrian, refused to serve in Hitler’s army. He knew that Hitler’s war was unjust and immoral. He was beheaded by the guillotine in Berlin’s Brandenburg Prison on August 9, 1943. He was a devout Catholic, not a pacifist or a political man. An unknown hero, he stood completely alone.

Pope Benedict declared Franz Jagerstatter a martyr on June 1, 2007. Jagerstatter’s beatification ceremony took place on October 26, 2007.

Für Gott und Vaterland — “for God and Fatherland” — the Nazis attacked foreign countries.

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