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Saturday, February 25, 2017
CORRECTION: Franz Jagerstatter recognised as a martyr
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 Further to our earlier story - a number of readers have pointed out that Franz Jägerstätter has not been beatified, but has been recognised as a martyr - a step on the way to beatification. The amended story follows below. Pax Christi has welcomed the news that the Church has recgnised Franz Jägerstätter as a martyr for his faith. Jägerstätter was an Austrian farmer who was beheaded in Brandenburg, Germany, on 9th August 1943, for refusing to fight in Hitler's army. Recognition of martyrdom is one of the first steps on the way to beatification. Bishop Malcolm McMahon, President of Pax Christi said: "The extraordinary courage of Franz Jägerstätter, a faithful Catholic, has been an inspiration to many and a powerful witness to peace and nonviolence. In an age of war and violence we urgently need the example of those who use their consciences to make judgements about what is evil - and refuse to take part in it. The recognition of this man's holiness by the Church should encourage us all to stand up for peace, justice and human dignity." Franz believed that he would be committing a sin if he acted against his conscience and agreed to fight for the National Socialist state. For him, this was a situation in which he had to obey God more than the commands of secular rulers. In following the commandment 'you shall love your neighbour as yourself' Franz decided that he could not fight with weapons of war. For refusing to undertake military service he was sentenced to death in Berlin and was beheaded in Brandenburg on 9th August 1943. Pax Christi offers a warm message of support to his widow, Franciska Jägerstätter, a faithful partner in his terrible sacrifice and a witness to peace herself. Their three daughters were all under the age of six at the time of his death. Franciska suffered many years of economic punishment, discrimination and social exclusion before Austrian attitudes to her husband's conscientious objection began to change. He is now honoured as a hero in Austria. Franciska still serves the small village church in St Radegund, Upper Austria, where Franz himself was sacristan. We rejoice with her and her family. Pax Christi commemorates the anniversary of Franz Jägerstätter with an ecumenical service in London each year, and has organised several pilgrimages to St Radegund since the first British Pax Christi group went there in 1975. For more information on Franz Jägerstätter see: During a ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday the martyrdom of 127 religious killed during the Spanish Civil War, Jesuit priest Peter Kibe Kasui and 187 Japanese Christians killed in 1600 was also recognised. Source: Pax Christi/VIS
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