Pax Christi will host a thanksgiving Mass for the Beatification of Franz Jagerstatter at Westminster Cathedral in London at 7pm tonight. This follows the Beatification in October of Franz, an Austrian farmer, family man and Catholic, who was executed in Berlin in 1943 for his refusal to serve in Hitler's army. Bishop Malcolm McMahon, national President of Pax Christi will celebrate the Mass and Bruce Kent, a Vice-President of Pax Christi will offer a reflection on the life and witness of Franz for today.
Also attending the Mass in London will be Ambassador Matzner and staff of the Austrian Embassy in London, members of the Austrian community in the UK, Erna Putz, biographer of Franz as well as members of Pax Christi UK and Austria and other faith groups working for peace and nonviolence. A group from the UK attended the Beatification in St Mary's Cathedral in Linz, the home Diocese of Franz and his family.
Speaking of Franz the Diocesan Bishop Dr. Ludwig Schwarz said: "Franz Jagerstatter is a prophet with a global view and a penetrating insight which very few of his contemporaries had at that time; he is a shining example in his fidelity to the claims of his conscience, an advocate of nonviolence and peace, a voice of warning against ideologies, a deep-believing person for whom God really was the core and centre of life. His prophetic witness to Christian truth is based on a clear, radical and far-sighted analysis of the barbarism of the inhuman and godless system of Nazism, its racial delusions, its ideology of war and deification of the state, as well as its declared programme of annihilating Christianity and the Church.
His educated, mature conscience led him to say a resolute 'No' to Nazism and he was executed due to his consistent refusal to take up arms as a soldier in Hitler's war." Pax Christi has long promoted the life and witness of Franz, holding an annual memorial service in August on the anniversary of his execution and producing publications and articles on his life. For more information see: www.paxchristi.org.uk