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Apostolic Movement

Franz Reinisch – Torch of Love and Peace

By: Heinrich Brehm

August 21, 2023, marks the 81st anniversary of the death of Father Franz Reinisch SAC. His decision to refuse to swear allegiance to Hitler was made from the conviction that there can only be a choice between faith in Jesus Christ and the ideology of the Nazis, even if it cost him his life, explains Father Heribert Niederschlag in an interview with Schoenstatt International.

What is the progress of Father Reinisch’s beatification process?

It is continuing in Rome. What is important in the first place is the elaboration of a positio (a scientific documentation on the life, work, and death of Franz Reinisch, with special attention to his struggle for virtue – editor’s note), which the responsible rapporteur will prepare and forward to other commissions for evaluation. The positio is currently being drafted.

Father Heribert Niederschlag (foto: Brehm)

How do you see people’s relationship with Franz Reinisch, are there admirers, is his memory still alive?

Reinisch has been revered since his death, even more so in recent years. The members of the Schoenstatt Movement in particular are responsible for spreading the memory of Franz Reinisch, but the Pallottines as well. I am especially happy that his veneration has also been spread to South America.

In Latin America it is common for the youth of the Schoenstatt Movement to enthusiastically sing the “Hymn of Franz Reinisch”. Do you also see this international aspect in the process of beatification? Is it mostly the youth who are moved by the memory of Reinisch, or people of all ages?

Father Franz Reinisch is admired by all generations. I am glad that young people are becoming more and more interested in him. Devotion is not limited to South America but is present especially where Schoenstatters and Pallottines work (for example, in Africa and Asia).

You have been working on this beatification process for several years. What impresses you most about Reinisch’s life?

I am especially impressed by the spiritual development at the various stages of his decision-making process. His political instinct forewarned him against the Nazis from the very beginning. Like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he ruled out any cooperation with the Nazis. Between Christians and Nazis there can only be “either one or the other”, both are not possible, they are incompatible.

His analysis would be increasingly confirmed. The clarity of vision that the decision to reject the oath of allegiance to Hitler could cost him his life did not prevent him from remaining faithful to it. This unambiguous inner clarity in his way of life impresses me deeply and his life confirms that one must obey God rather than men.

What do you think Franz Reinisch has to transmit to people nowadays?

Especially in Europe, we observe a diminishing knowledge of our faith and a diminishing appreciation of church life. With his life testimony, Reinisch made clear what faith challenges us to do and what it is also capable of accomplishing. He wrote in prison that in Berlin, from where the torch of hatred and death was launched into the world, he wanted to become a “torch of love and peace” for his contemporaries and for later generations. This is the only way we can hope for a more humane world.

Commemoration of the 81st anniversary of the death of Father Franz Reinisch

The Franz Reinisch Forum invites devotees to a memorial Mass for Franz Reinisch in the Original Schoenstatt Shrine, Vallendar, on Sunday, August 20, 2023, at 7:30 pm. A deep relationship with the Mother and Queen Thrice Admirable of Schoenstatt made him find a place where he felt at home in the Schoenstatt Chapel of Grace. Reinisch, the only priest who refused to swear allegiance to Hitler, was beheaded in Brandenburg-Görden on August 21, 1942. The diocesan part of the beatification process of Fr. Franz Reinisch was completed in 2019 and the files were handed over to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints in Rome.


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