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from issue no. 11 - 2004

We bitterly deplore

The last public speech
of Cardinal Clemens August
von Galen

Some passages from the sermons given by the Bishop of Münster on 16 March 1946 after having received the purple in Rome from Pius XII

Dear members of my diocese...
I thank you for celebrating me today when I return as cardinal of the Holy Roman Church to this our dear city, in my beloved country...
The Holy Father has bestowed this dignity on me, and I can assure you that I am indeed overwhelmed by the goodness, the amiability and the condescending grace that the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of Saint Peter, has shown to me personally with this honor and with the love with which he welcomed me. But when the head of the Church performs an action like this, it is not a matter of an honor done an individual person...
Thousands of people felt painfully with me and like me that the truth of God and the justice of God, human dignity and the human rights were being set aside, despised and trampled on; with me and like me they felt it a bitter injustice also toward the true well-being of our people that the religion of Christ was hemmed in and ever more confined... I knew that many had suffered grievous wrong, very much more grievous than what I myself suffered personally, in the persecutions of truth and justice that we have been through.
They could not speak, they could only suffer. Perhaps in the eyes of God – for whom suffering, yes suffering, weighs much more than acting and speaking – and perhaps also many of those here now have in reality merited more in the sacred eyes of God, because they have suffered more than me.
But my right and my duty was to speak out and I spoke out, for you, for the countless persons gathered here, for the countless people of our beloved country of Germany, and God blessed my words, and your love and your fidelity, my beloved diocesans, kept me from what could have been my end, but perhaps they also prevented me from receiving the more beautiful reward, the glorious crown of martyrdom. [Hardly perceptible because spoken in a thread of voice].
Your fidelity prevented it. Because you were behind me, and the powerful knew that the people and the bishop in the diocese of Münster formed an unbreakable unity, and that, had they struck at the bishop, all the people would have felt stricken.
...Now the Holy Father has called three German bishops to the College of Cardinals and thereby decided to show the whole world (that world that mainly sees now in Germany – at least from what results from public opinion in many other countries - the end of a criminal system contrary to Christianity, that is disposed to despise and reject everything that is German, that is disposed to consider the whole German people a pack of criminals), well, the Holy Father has decided to demonstrate before all this world, by electing three German cardinals, that he does not so think. He has demonstrated before all the world that he knows Germany better than those who judge us so and so want to condemn and curse us.
He has demonstrated that, despite the wrongs and the crimes of many Germans, which we bitterly deplore and of which we must bear the consequences with the destruction of our cities and not merely that, most of our people did not stoop to evil and pagan principles, and that there are many thousands, even millions of German, who, as honorable persons, truly deserve freedom and justice be rendered to them, as to all the other peoples of the world, to all the other children of God on this earth...

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