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No. 6398


April 32009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)

Woman who defied Hitler ‘was inspired by Newman’

Pope urges priests not to be ‘soloists’ during visit to Rome parish


CARDINALJOHN Henry Newman was the inspiration of Germany’s greatest heroine in defying Adolf Hitler, scholars have claimed.

New documents unearthed by German academics have revealed that the writings of the 19th-century English theologian were a direct influence on Sophie Scholl, who was beheaded for circulating leaflets urging students at Munich University to rise up against Nazi terror.

Scholl, a student who was 21 at the time of her death in February 1943, is a legend in Germany, with two films made about her life and more than 190 schools named after her. She was also voted “woman of the 20th century” by readers of Brigitte, a women’s magazine, and a popular 2003 television series called Greatest Germans declared her to be the greatest German woman of all time.

But behind her heroism was the “theology of conscience” expounded by Cardinal Newman, according to Professor Günther Biemer, the leading German interpreter of Newman, and Jakob Knab, an expert on the life of Sophie Scholl, who will later this year publish research in Newman Studien on the White Rose resistance movement, to which she belonged.

Their findings include correspondence between Scholl and her boyfriend, Fritz Hartnagel, a German army officer, to whom she gave two volumes of Newman’s sermons when he was deployed to the eastern front in May 1942.

On arriving in the town of Mariupol, Russia, Hartnagel saw corpses of Soviet soldiers who had been shot by their German guards and began to hear reports of mass killings of local Jews.

He later wrote to Scholl to say that reading Newman’s words in such an awful place were like tasting “drops of precious wine”.

“What a fallacy it is to take nature as our model for our actions and to describe its cruelty as ‘great’,” he said in a letter of July 1942. “But we know by whom we were created and that we stand in a relationship of moral obligation to our creator. Conscience gives us the capacity to distinguish between good and evil.” Mr Knab has identified Hartnagel’s words as being taken verbatim from a sermon given by Newman called “The Testimony of Conscience”.

Newman taught that conscience was an echo of the voice of God enlightening each person to moral truth in concrete situations. Christians, he argued, had a duty to obey a good conscience over and above all other considerations.

Lieutenant Hartnagel’s convictions later led him to protest against the mass murders of the Jews.

On January 22 1943 he was evacuated on the last plane out of Stalingrad before the city fell to the Russians in a battle that would mark a turning point in the war.

But by the time he returned to Germany Sophie was dead, executed along with Hans and her friend, Christoph Probst.

Continued on Page 3

The Pope celebrates Mass at the Church of the Holy Face of Jesus on the outskirts of Rome


INAWORLD that does not seem interested in hearing about God effective communication of the faith requires a group effort, Pope Benedict XVI has said. When many people seem unable or unwilling to recognise the presence of God, “it is important that a pastor not be a ‘soloist’, but be surrounded by believers who, along with him, are bearers of the seed of the word [of God] and help it live and grow,” the Pope said during a visit on Sunday to a Rome parish.

In addition to celebrating Mass at the Holy Face of Jesus Parish, the Pope met members of the

parish council and children preparing for their First Communion before he returned to the Vatican for the midday recitation of the Angelus prayer.

The Pope told parish leaders: “The council is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and the pastor –and even more a pope – needs advice, needs help in making decisions. And so these [parish] councils are also a work of the Holy Spirit and a witness to the Spirit’s presence in the Church.”

Arriving at the parish Pope Benedict noted that the sun was hidden from view by storm clouds but everyone knew it was still there. In the same way, he said: “Even though he is hidden,

we know that God exists, he is near to us, he helps us and accompanies us.

“Let us go toward Easter knowing that suffering and difficulty are part of our lives, but knowing also that the sun of divine goodness” is always behind the clouds, he said.

Praising the parish Caritas programme and the work of parishioners involved in the Community of Sant’Egidio, the Pope said that especially at a time of social and economic crisis Catholics must make greater efforts to care for the poor and needy.

Returning to the Vatican for the midday recitation of the Angelus

Photo: CNS/ Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

the Pope was greeted by hundreds of African students studying at the pontifical universities in Rome who wanted to thank him for his March 17-23 visit to Africa.

Thanking the students for their support, Pope Benedict said he was especially struck by “the visible joy in the faces of the people, the joy of feeling part of the one family of God” and by the “strong sense of the sacred that one breathed during the liturgical celebrations” in Cameroon and Angola.

The following day the Pope addressed the issue of vocations, saying in a message for the May 3 day of prayer that a religious life

was principally about trusting God so much that one can answer his call without hesitation.

In his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, he said: “What is asked of those who are called, for their part, is careful listening and prudent discernment, a generous and willing adherence to the divine plan, and a serious study of the reality that is proper to the priestly and religious vocations, so as to be able to respond responsibly and with conviction.”

In his message, Pope Benedict said it was God who chose some to follow his Son, Jesus, more closely and to put themselves fully at the service of the Church.

Vatican send investigators to probe Legion of Christ scandal


THEVATICAN has ordered an apostolic visitation of the institutions of the Legionaries of Christ following disclosures of sexual impropriety by the order’s late founder, Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado.

A letter, written by the Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said the Pope wanted to help the Legionaries of Christ deal with its present problems with “truth and transparency”. It

said the visitation would be carried out by “a team of prelates”.

Apostolic visitation is a form of internal Church investigation ordered by a pope and undertaken by his delegates. The pope sets the jurisdiction and powers of the visitation, which ends with a report to the Holy See.

In February Legion of Christ officials in Rome disclosed that Fr Maciel had fathered a child. Sources in Rome said the order was also

looking into accusations of financial irregularities.

In the past Fr Maciel had been accused of sexually abusing young seminarians in the order. After investigating those allegations the Vatican in 2006 told Fr Maciel to renounce his public ministry as a priest and spend the rest of his life in prayer and penitence. The Vatican did not, however, confirm that sexual abuse had occurred. Fr Maciel died in 2008 at the age of 87.

Cardinal Bertone’s letter

was addressed to Fr Alvaro Corcuera, director general of the Legions and its lay association, Regnum Christi.

Cardinal Bertone said: “The Holy Father is aware of the noble ideals that inspire you and the fortitude and prayerful spirit with which you are facing the current vicissitudes, and he encourages you to continue seeking the good of the Church and society by means of your own distinctive initiatives and institutions.”

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Television campaign wins back thousands

Archbishop regrets boom in hate mail


An estimated 92,000 inactive Catholics in the American Diocese of Phoenix have come back to church in the last year thanks in large part to a groundbreaking television advertising campaign called Catholics Come Home.

It featured people and locations from around the diocese to promote the Church during prime-time television. The

cornerstone of the campaign, the Catholics Come Home website, addresses often misunderstood aspects of the faith.

“For those who had fallen away from the practice of their faith, it let them know that we want them to come home,” Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted said.

More than half a million different visitors from all 50 states and 80 countries have visited the website since the adverts first aired.

Editorial Comment: Page 13


ASENIOR American archbishop has said the internet has increased significantly the amount of hate mail he receives.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver said the internet multiplied the amount of hate mail he was sent and that some of the worst emails came from conservative Catholics.

He also said he thought the

internet led to a coarsening of discourse.

Archbishop Chaput said: “Some of the worst emails I get are from Catholic conservatives. I must admit that when I write back I’m

not as friendly as I should be.” He added:

“The Left mail I get will use terrible words but be less vitriolic.

“They use the F

word and things

like that. The Right is

meaner, but

they’re not as foul.”


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