A German bishop who took a brave stand against the Nazis during World War Two, was beatified yesterday in St Peter's Basilica, in a service presided over by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins. Bishop Clemens August von Galen was know as as the "Lion of Muenster" for his anti-Nazi sermons. The Holy Father hailed his "heroic courage" in condemning anti-Semitism and said he was a model for those in public roles today. Speaking in German, Pope Benedict said: "Von Galen feared God more than man, and this gave him the courage to say and to do things that many intelligent persons did not do in that period in Germany." "He dedicated himself to "defending the rights of God, of the Church, of man, which the national socialist regime violated in a grave and systematic way, in the name of an aberrant, neo-pagan ideology." Many pilgrims came from Muenster, and other parts of Germany, for the service. Later, addressing pilgrims in St Peter's Square, Pope Benedict praised the bishop for "protecting the Jews and the weakest persons, which the regime considered garbage to eliminate." "This is precisely the ever-current message of Blessed von Galen: faith is not reduced to a private sentiment, perhaps something to hide when it becomes inconvenient, but implies coherence and witness even in the public sphere in defence of man, of justice, of truth," he said. Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins said Von Galen spoke out against the Nazi campaign to exterminate the mentally ill and handicapped, denouncing the Nazi regime's "death machine" during what were "very difficult times for the German church and nation." Von Galen's homilies were secretly copied and circulated, according to German church officials. Cardinal Martins said the homilies "invite us who live in times apparently less threatening, but not less problematic for human life, to imitate his example." Bishop Von Galen died in 1946, at the age 68, just a few weeks after Pope Pius XII made him cardinal.
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