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Von Galen against Euthanasia - II

Like Jerusalem, Germany Will Be Punished by Destruction

Cardinal Clemens von Galen

Today we post the second part of the sermon of the Cardinal Bishop of Münster, Clemens von Galen (first part here), preached in the Church of St. Lambert's on August 3rd, 1941. In it he attacks the Nazi practice of euthanasia and condemns the killings of sick persons taking place in his own Diocese.  His words follow. TIA
Sermon of Cardinal von Galen -  Part II

I will now give you a concrete example of what is taking place here. A 55-year-old peasant from a country parish near Münster - I could provide his name - has been in the clinic of Marienthal for some years suffering from some mental derangement. He was not hopelessly mad. In fact he could receive visitors and was always pleased to see his family.

A prisoner behind bars in a nazi euthanasia center

Behind bars at the Hadamar euthansia center, one of six such Nazi facilities
About a fortnight ago he had a visit from his wife and a soldier son who was home on leave from the front. The latter was devoted to his sick father. Their parting was sad, for they might not see each other again as the lad might fall in battle. What happened, however, is that this son will never set eyes on his father again because his name was put on the list of “unproductive” persons. A family member who was sent to see the father at Marienthal was refused admission and was informed that the patient had been taken away on the orders of the Council of Ministers of National Defense. His whereabouts were unknown. The family would receive official notification in due course.

What will this notice contain? Will it be like all the others, namely that the man is dead and that the ashes of his body will be sent upon receiving some money to defray expenses? And so the son who is now risking his life at the front for his German compatriots will never again see his father. These are the true facts and the names of all those concerned are available.

‘Thou shalt not kill.’ God engraved this commandment on the souls of men long before any penal code laid down punishment for murder, long before any court prosecuted and avenged homicide. Cain, who killed his brother Abel, was a murderer long before courts or States came into existence, and plagued by his conscience he confessed, ‘Guilt like mine is too great to find forgiveness … and I shall wander over the earth, a fugitive; anyone I meet will slay me.’ (Gen. 4:12-14)

Because of His love for us, God has engraved these commandments in our hearts and has made them manifest to us. They express the need of our nature created by God. They are the unchangeable and fundamental truths of our social life grounded on reason, well pleasing to God, healthful and sacred.

Giving us these precepts, God, Our Father, wishes to gather us, His children, around Him as a hen shelters its brood under her wings. If we are obedient to His commands, then we are protected and preserved against the destruction with which we are menaced, just like the chicks beneath the wings of the mother. ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem... how often have I been ready to gather thy children together, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings; and thou didst refuse it!’...

Black and white photographs of deformed and retarded children

Records at the Nazi euthanasia centers show deformed and retarded children killed

‘And as He drew near, and caught sight of the city, He wept over it, saying: "Ah, if thou too hath known, above all on this day that is granted thee, the things that can bring thee peace! But now, they are hidden from thy sight. For the days shall come upon thee when thy enemies shall cast a trench about thee and encircle thee, and press hard on thee from every side. And they shall bring down in ruin both thee and thy children within thee, and they shall not leave one stone upon another, because thou didst not recognize the time of thy visitation." (Lk. 19: 41-44)

Jesus saw the walls and towers of the city of Jerusalem with His human eyes, but with His divine prescience He saw far beyond and into the inmost heart of the city and its inhabitants. He saw its wicked obstinacy, terrible, sinful and cruel. Man, a transitory creature, was opposing his will to the Will of God. This is the reason why Jesus wept for this fearful sin and its inevitable punishment. God is not mocked.

Christians of Münster! Did the Son of God in His omniscience see only Jerusalem and its people? Did He weep only on their behalf? Is God the Protector and Father of the Jews only? Is Israel alone in rejecting His divine truth? Are they the only people to throw off the laws of God and plunge headlong to ruin? Did not Jesus, who sees everything, behold also our German people, our land of Westphalia and the Lower Rhine, and our city of Münster? Has He not also wept for us?

For one thousand years He has instructed us and our forbears in the Faith. He has led us by His law. He has nourished us with His grace and has gathered us to Him as the hen does her brood under her wings. Has the all-knowing Son of God not foreseen that in our own time He would have to pronounce on us that same dread sentence? ‘Not leaving one stone of thee upon another; and all because thou didst not recognize the time of My visiting thee.’ That would indeed be a terrible sentence.

Bodies exhumed from the Hadamar euthanasia center

Exhumation of victims at Hadamar euthanasia center
My dearly beloved children, I trust that it is not too late. It is time that we realize today what alone can bring us peace, what alone can save us and avert the divine wrath. We must openly, and without reserve, declare our Catholicism.

We must show by our actions that we will live our lives by obeying God's commandments. Our motto must be: Death rather than sin. By pious prayer and penance we can bring His grace and forgiveness down upon us, our city and our beloved German land.

But those who persist in inciting the anger of God, who revile our Faith, who hate His commandments, who associate with those who alienate our young men from their religion, who rob and drive out our monks and nuns, who condemn to death our innocent brothers and sisters, our fellow human beings, we shun absolutely, so as to remain undefiled by their blasphemous way of life, which would lay us open to that just punishment which God must and will inflict upon all those who, like thankless Jerusalem, oppose their wishes to those of God.

O my God, grant to us all now on this very day, before it is too late, a true realization of the things that are for peace. O Sacred Heart of Jesus, oppressed even unto tears by the blindness and sins of men, help us by Thy grace to seek always what is pleasing to Thee and reject what is displeasing, so that we may dwell in Thy Love and find rest in our souls. Amen.


Blason de Charlemagne
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Excerpt of Heinrich Portmann, Cardinal von Galen,
translated by R.L. Sedgwick, 1957, pp. 239-246

Posted September 3, 2012

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