German bishop appoints committee to reevaluate beatification process of Schoenstatt founder

CNA Staff, Jul 9, 2020 / 05:54 pm (CNA).- Bishop Stephan Ackermann of the German diocese of Tier announced the appointment of a commission of historians to review the beatification process of Fr. Josef Kentenich, founder the Schoenstatt Movement, a decision that was welcomed by Fr. Juan Pablo Catoggio, international  president of the Schoenstatt movement.

The decision, announced on July 7, follows the recent revelations published by Church historian Alexandra von Teuffenbach,  former professor of theology and Church history at the Pontifical Lateran University and the Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, who reviewed Vatican-commissioned assessments of the Schoenstatt movement, which reportedly portray Kentenich as manipulative and coercive.

The beatification process of Father Josef Kentenich was opened by Bishop Bernhard Stein on February 10, 1975 in the Diocese of Trier and has not yet been concluded at the diocesan level.

According to a diocesan statement, the task of the commission of historians, whose members have not yet been determined, “will especially be to collect all now accessible documents of the Vatican Archive that in some way relate to this beatification process, and to assess their significance.”

It will also be the task of the commission “to reconcile the newly found material with what has already been gathered and evaluated from other archives by the previous commission. At the end of their work, the commission – including the results of the previous commission – will write a report in which a statement will also be made about the personality and spirituality of Fr. Josef Kentenich as depicted in the collected documents.”

Reacting to the announcement, Fr. Catoggio issued a statement addressed to the “dear Schoenstatt Family throughout the world” on July 8, saying that “we very much welcome this decision of the bishop, since in this way the clarification of the questions regarding the person and actions of Father Kentenich.”  

“We understand that the Schoenstatt Family throughout the world expects initiatives from us that respond to the many justified questions, confusions and demands for transparency. You rightly expect that the history of Father Kentenich, the history of Schoenstatt, and the history of the Sisters be more openly and transparently processed and communicated to the Schoenstatt Family,” Catoggio said.

“We recognize that we have held back for too long out of consideration and for the protection of persons and communities,” he added.

The priest also recognized that Schoenstatt members around the world “are searching for answers to the questions you have at the moment. This is understandable. It is important to us that the relevant texts of our founder or individual historical documents can be understood from their context.”

He promised that “we will also take the necessary steps from our side to examine the material of the archives that are now accessible.”

“We are convinced that this clarification process on various levels will bring the truth into full light and thus also allow for a more objective and comprehensive understanding of the person, way of acting and charism of Father Kentenich,” he concluded.

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