The rehabilitation of Father Joseph Kentenich is not in question for the Schoenstatt Movement
Since August 3, 2020, a letter from the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, dated April 2, 1982 and addressed to the then Superior General of the Pallottines, was published in various media.
The authors of the articles in question conclude that Fr. Joseph Kentenich was not rehabilitated by the Church.
This letter is the first part of a longer correspondence on the question of the rehabilitation of Joseph Kentenich. To quote this letter as the only document on this question is misleading.
The rehabilitation of Joseph Kentenich in 1965 was accomplished by “transferring” the entire Kentenich case from the Holy Office to the Congregation for Religious. The Prefect of this Congregation, Cardinal Ildebrando Antoniutti, with the agreement of Pope Paul VI, granted Joseph Kentenich the right to return to Germany at the end of 1965. The only restriction remained that the founder, after leaving the Society of Pallottines, was not allowed to join the newly founded Institute of the Schoenstatt Fathers. But even this was not part of the formal decision of the Holy Office. At no time was a ban on the leadership of the Schoenstatt Work communicated.
This is supported, among other things, by a letter from Bishop Joseph Höffner of Münster, who on January 24, 1966, informed a number of the German bishops: “The Holy See has lifted the restrictive regulations to which Father Kentenich and the Schoenstatt Work were previously subject. With the approval of the Holy See, Father Kentenich left the Society of Pallottines and was accepted by me into the Diocese of Münster. With the permission of the Holy See, he may dedicate himself unreservedly to the completion of the Schoenstatt Work he founded.
The Holy Father Pope Paul VI granted Father Kentenich an audience on December 22, 1965, in which he blessed him and the Schoenstatt Work he founded. On December 23, 1965, on the basis of a letter that I had addressed to the Congregation for Religious, the Prefect of that Congregation, Cardinal Antoniutti, informed Father Kentenich that he could go to Germany for a few weeks, but that he would return to Rome when the Epiphany Octave ended. It is undoubtedly the Holy See’s intention to gradually ensure a normalization of the questions concerning the Schoenstatt Work and to avoid any sensationalism”.
In a letter from the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, dated November 15, 1983, addressed to the President of the General Presidium of the Schoenstatt Work, it was pointed out that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith granted the “nihil obstat” in 1973 to initiate the process of beatification of Father Joseph Kentenich. The competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in this matter should therefore be considered as finished.
The Schoenstatt Movement concludes from this that according to the judgment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, none of the accusations or objections against the teachings and activities of Father Kentenich that were known to the Congregation were an obstacle to the opening of his beatification process.
We leave it to the competent ecclesiastical authorities to examine to what extent all this correspondence is relevant to Father Joseph Kentenich’s beatification process.
August 7, 2020
Schoenstatt Medienkommission, Höhrer Straße 103a, 56179 Vallendar, Germany