VATICAN CITY, December 21, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Cardinal Clemens August von Galen, known as the "Lion of Munster", has been approved by Pope John Paul II for beatification, a step on the road toward being declared a saint in the Catholic Church.
Cardinal von Galen was best known for his stand against Hitler which was ignited mainly through his defeat of Hitler's program of euthanasia for the mentally and physically disabled. The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) welcomed the announcement of the German Cardinal's upcoming beatification.
John Smeaton, SPUC national director, commented: "Cardinal von Galen is a model of fearless opposition to euthanasia, and we thank the Holy Father for honouring such heroic pro-life witness."
Historians relate that Hitler's eugenics policy called for euthanasia of those with incurable diseases. By 1940 busloads of unsuspecting victims were taken to medical centers for extermination. Then-Bishop von Galen's famous August 3, 1941 sermon against the euthanasia program is regarded as a turning point in the war.
Using language today's pro-lifers will find very familiar, Bishop von Galen condemned the attempt "to give legal sanction to the forceable killing of invalids, cripples, the incurable and the incapacitated." He said, "Once admit the right to kill unproductive persons, then none of us can be sure of his life. A curse on men and on the German people if we break the holy commandment 'Thou shalt not kill'... Woe to us German people if we not only licence this heinous offence but allow it to be committed with impunity".
By the end of August the euthanasia program was cancelled. While Nazi leaders contemplated killing the good bishop, they were concerned about a public uprising given his vast popularity among the people.