Nazi conscientious objector Blessed Franz Jägerstätter

Christians urged to “get out of standby mode”, “contradict and resist” evil

Participants at an international commemoration of the martyrdom of Austrian World War II-era conscientious objector Franz Jägerstätter have been urged to “get out of our ‘standby mode'” and to “contradict and resist” evil in the world.

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Sister Ruth Beinhauer from Vienna issued the invitation to participants in the International Jägerstätter Commemoration 2019 held August 8-9 in St. Radegund and Tarsdorf, Austria, as the Pax Christi website reports.

Sr. Beinhauer, a Franciscan Sister of Christian Love, spoke about her sister religious Sr. Restituta Kafka, beheaded by the Nazis in Vienna in 1943 for “favoring the enemy and preparing for high treason”.

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Beinhauer highlighted in her talk similarities between Jägerstätter and Kafka.

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Though both figures today are venerated as Blessed by the Catholics, the Church initially judged their resistance to the Nazis harshly, Beinhauer said.

The criticisms came “because they did not limit their religious beliefs to apolitical hidden prayers, but also expressed them through politically effective acts of resistance, and because they – unlike many too diplomatic church representatives – could not keep silent about the blatant injustice”, the Viennese nun explained.

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Why it matters

Both Blesseds were “provocateurs of the faith”, continued Beinhauer, and as such offer an example for Christians today.

“Straightforward and risk-taking people like Franz Jägerstätter and Restituta Kafka should give us this necessary impetus, touch us to get out of our ‘standby mode’, from the impassive watching, and always activate us to the courage to emerge from the safety of the anonymous mass of ‘bystanders’, to risk better action and to take other people on our way”, insisted the nun.

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Sr. Beinhauer invited the Christians present to undertake a reflection:

“Where do I as a Christian today in society, politics and – sometimes even in the church – work against it, contradict and resist, to let evil or non-good not go unchallenged? What means can, may and should I use for this? In other words, where do I have to become a provocateur of the faith?”

Participants in the Jägerstätter commemoration this year included Christians from Germany and Italy, as well as Lizzy Bentley, the writer and producer of the new Jägerstätter movie A Hidden Life (trailer at bottom).

The pilgrimage finished with a Mass in the parish church of St. Radegund, where Linz emeritus bishop Maximilian Aichern praised Christians like Edith Stein, Restituta Kafka and Franz Jägerstätter as “a piece of Gospel realized in life”.

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To read more about the commemoration, read the Pax Christi article at this link.

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