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Pro Life Profile: Cardinal von Faulhaber

Fr. Scott Haynes
Michael Cardinal von Faulhaber [1] was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Munich from 1917 to his death in 1952. He was a man who defended our Catholic faith in the hardest of times. He fostered vocations in his diocese and wanted to inspire his seminarians to be brave to the core. He wanted to ordain men who would not cower in the face of evil. And he succeeded. The last man he ever ordained to the priesthood was Joseph Ratzinger.

As you might imagine, the years between 1933 and 1945, marked by the reign of Adolf Hitler, were especially difficult for Faulhaber.
His Advent sermons of 1933, delivered in the vast Munich Cathedral, the Frauenkirche, drew thousands of Munich’s citizens—there was standing room only. They came to listen to the Cardinal who fearlessly challenged German National Socialism. They came to hear this defender of the Church assert the rights and freedoms of the Church, and to call for the protection of innocent life. They came to be inspired and they were. In Advent Sermon No. 1, Cardinal von Faulhaber said:
The people of Israel, through the Mother of the Saviour, were kinsmen of Christ. But in the kingdom of God ties of blood are not sufficient... Christ, therefore, rejects the ties of blood ; He demands the tie of faith, the hearing of the word of God. Whoever is united with Christ by baptism and by living faith is mother or brother to Him. So the question is not : Was Christ a Jew or an Aryan? It is : Are we members of Christ by baptism and by faith? For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision ; but a new creature (Gal. vi, 15).


By the 1940's when Hitler’s "final solution" became clear to all – annihilation of the Jews. Faulhaber ordered yellow armbands with the Star of David to be placed on the statues of Christ and Mary throughout his archdiocese. It was simple logic. Christ was a Jew. Our Blessed Mother was a Jew. Faulhaber’s courage made the Nazi party cower.

No one in the Gestapo dare take these yellow armbands down. So, Munich, the birthplace of the Nazi movement, became the center of Nazi resistance. And although Dachau was located just ten miles outside Munich’s city limits, Hitler’s policies were severely weakened in Munich by the courage of a single man.

Notes


[1] The Encyclopedia Britannica says: "Repelled by Nazi totalitarianism, neopaganism, and racism, Faulhaber contributed to the failure of Hitler’s Munich Putsch (1923)... During the Nazi regime he delivered his famous sermons entitled Judaism, Christianity, and Germany... Throughout his sermons until the collapse (1945) of the Third Reich, Faulhaber vigorously criticized Nazism, despite governmental opposition. Attempts on his life were made in 1934 and in 1938. He worked with American occupation forces after the war, and he received the West German Republic’s highest award, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit."



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