A different and unexpected Kentenich year
Both certainty and uncertainty characterise the path we are now taking with our founder.
December 16, 2020 - Fr. Ludwig Güthlein
Dear members and friends of the Schoenstatt Movement:
Advent marks the beginning of the new Ecclesial Year. I would like to take this opportunity to review the challenge of recent months. The questions about Father Joseph Kentenich, our founder, are for us a profound turning point, which will mark both the coming year and the time to come.
Since July, publications with accusations against Father Kentenich have determined public opinion. The media context generated is completely insufficient. I am glad that soon appropriate material can be published which will shed more light on the context of the various events according to our current state of knowledge. I thank all those who have worked and are working on this.
The fact that the accusations against Father Kentenich were presented under the emotional title of sexual abuse, awakens in the present time the spontaneous reaction – and also among us -: When something is affirmed, surely there is something more, and the future will confirm it. This makes us prudent. It is good that sensitivity to such issues has grown. In the present state of the investigations, it can be said with a realistic estimation, that the main accusation against Father Kentenich is not justified. It is positive that the historical commission of the Diocese of Trier will soon be established and that it can begin its work.
Relying on one’s own experience
In view of the abundance of material, clarification and historical review will take time. Each interior image we have of Father Kentenich today is a mosaic of many aspects and individual experiences. How decisive are the critical and contradictory pieces of the mosaic to our understanding of his life?
The current search and thorough examination is a great gain for all of us. The greater the historical distance from the founder of our movement, the more complete and differentiated the reports and testimonies must be in order to have an overview of his person.
And at the same time, with all the collection of historical knowledge and transmitted stories, the question also arises about the personal relationship with him: What does Father Kentenich mean to me? Here we move in the area of intuition and appreciation. What awakens distance from him and what justifies trust in him and his inspirations.More consciously than before, we are challenged to perceive and take seriously our own reactions to our founding father.
The experiences are personal. And they are clarified through the feedback and reactions of others. That’s why we need a dialogue – open and willing to learn – between all generations and communities in our movement. Everyone can contribute their questions, as well as their convictions and perspectives. Different approaches will be confronted. I hope, therefore, that we can find and create many such spaces for conversation. Initiating a dialogue and sustaining it later may not always be easy. I believe that we are facing a crucial learning stage for the future of Schoenstatt. It is precisely irritations that are important for a new decision and greater certainty.
Openness and trust
We travel this road trusting in the covenant of love with Mary. She carries the child God in her womb to give birth to him. In Mary it is already Christmas, while around her it is still a time of waiting, a time of hope and a time of longing. Certainty and uncertainty characterize Advent at the same time. Both also define the path we are now taking with our founder and the one we have to model.
Trust in the Blessed Virgin has already been shown many times and in many difficult circumstances. The history of our family testifies to this. Above all, the very life of our founder testifies to it. The more complicated and threatening a situation became, the more firmly and decisively he lived from trust in the covenant of love. He always encouraged us to live in this attitude.
The covenant with Mary is our foundation, upon which we can take all the steps that God shows us and asks of us in the coming year. In this time of Advent I wish you all a deep trust in Divine Providence.
With warm greetings,
Father Ludwig Güthlein