Saturday, June 30, 2007

Franz Jägerstätter, martyr, Beatus

I'd finished with Catholic Caveman, and wandered over to Catholic Anarchy. Yeah, the two are very different. I fully agree with the Caveman on the need for more manliness, particularly in the Church. And I agree with Michael Iafrate over at Catholic Anarchy, that we ought not have invaded Iraq. I expect that he and I are fellow=travelers regarding the War on Terror as well. But this here is my blog, and I'd like to write about Franz Jägerstätter, who came to my attention via Catholic Anarchy.

Jägerstätter was one of many Catholics martyred by the Third Reich. St. Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stien) was martyred for being a Jewish convert to Catholicism in a city where the Catholic Church decried the Nazi deportation of Jews from every pulpit. St. Maximillian Kolbe was arrested and sent to Auschwitz for sheltering some 2,000 Jews in his Franciscan friary and speaking out against the Nazis via amateur radio. He was killed because he thought it better that he should die than Franciszek Gajowniczek, who had a family. But Jägerstätter was killed for one reason only: he refused to carry a rifle for Hitler. And he refused because he recognized, as Pope Pius XII made clear in Summi Pontificatus, that Naziism was clearly incompatible with authentic Christianity. He offered to carry medical supplies and serve as a medic in the Wehrmacht, but that wasn't enough, and he was executed for it. Refusing to aid in evil, regardless of the cost, is heroism worthy of our respect, and emulation if possible and/or necessary.

Most of what I've seen praising Jägerstätter comes from voices that seem to abhor war unreservedly and praise pacifism in every case. (edit: thanks to The Western Confucian, I have found this exception.) Nothing I've seen suggests that he would have been such a voice. He saw that the Nazi Party, in both ideology and action, was completely unChristian, and he refused to take even the most limited part in their evil. But I saw no sign that he would have had similar objections to bearing arms in just defense of his nation. In my opinion, the war against the Axis was a just war, though at times conducted unjustly. Of course, the Axis made it so much more difficult by how they conducted themselves. The point I'm trying to make is that first, it is necessary to fight evil in every case. But even in fighting great evil -- and the evil of the Axis was very great -- one must not succumb to the temptation to fight evil by doing evil.

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