Thousands attend Beatification of Franz Jagerstatter

More than 5,000 people gathered in Linz Cathedral, Austria on Friday, to celebrate the Beatification of Franz Jagerstatter. At a moving service, attended by his widow Franziska, 94 years old and his four daughters, Hildegard, Maria, Aloisia and Rosalia, the petition for the cause of martyrdom was presented by Bishop Manfred Scheuer to Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, representative of Pope Benedict XVI. Twenty-seven Bishops and Cardinals participated, including Dr Ludwig Schwarz SDB, Bishop of Linz, Bishop Luigi Bettazi from Italy and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton from the United States, both have been involved with Pax Christi and with the cause of beatification for many years. During the service Franziska Jagerstatter carried a relic of her husband Franz and presented it to Cardinal Martins. The Cardinal announced that the future day set to mark the Beatification will be 21 May, the day of Franzs' baptism. Pax Christi members from England, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Austria and the USA had travelled to Linz to be a part of the celebration. They later met with Frau Jagerstatter and her family at a reception offered by the civic authorities in Linz. One of those taking part was Bruce Kent who has worked since the mid 1970's to promote the story and witness of Franz. Bruce organised his first pilgrimage to St Radegund, the home town of the Jagerstatter family in 1975. Pax Christi members also attended an evening vigil in the town of astermiething on Saturday 27th October and the first Eucharist in remembrance of the newly beatified Franz Jagerstatter at St. Radegund on Sunday 28th October in the small Parish Church where both Franz and his widow Franziska had been sacristans. Speaking at the vigil, Bruce Kent said: "The courage of Franz Jagerstatter obliges us all to find other ways of resolving our conflicts. It is my belief that wars today are bound to be unjust. Nonviolent solutions to conflict are available. The death and destruction that wars cause is beyond any possible proportion. Wars create and do not solve conflict. That the world needs political and social justice as well as a police force is clear. What it does not need is war. That is how I apply the message of Jagerstatter in 1943 to our world of 2007. With astonishing courage Franz taught us how to say 'No' to immoral promises and immoral wars. As citizens, taxpayers, or soldiers, and above all as Christians, the best honour we can pay him is to learn in our time, whatever the cost, to say NO to war and to build instead a culture of peace." Pax Christi will host a Mass to celebration the beatification at Westminster Cathedral on 21 November at 7.00pm celebrated by Bishop Malcolm McMahon, national president of Pax Christi

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