On Saturday, November 14 th, 2009 the proceedings of beatification of Franz Stock (1904 – 1948) were opened in the Parish Church St. John the Baptist in Arnsberg-Neheim. Franz Stock was born in Neheim. He was baptised in this church and celebrated his first Holy Mass there. Many members of the congregation and many former companions of Franz Stock took part in the service. Archbishop Becker said in his sermon during the High Mass: “Franz Stock lived his vocation to follow Jesus Christ fearlessly and bravely, with patience and without weariness. He was a faithful witness for Jesus Christ who came into the world to guide to God people of all nations, races and languages. Abbé Franz Stock was a physician of the mind and a true minister who sacrificed himself without regarding his own needs and his own strength.” Hans-Josef Becker reminded his audience of the following facts:
During the 2 nd World War Franz Stock looked after his congregation in Paris occupied by the Germans. It was a congregation “full of fear and full of distress”. Franz Stock started an extremely difficult and straining occupation. For more than 4 years he was priest in the prisons of the German Armed Forces. He attended to prisoners, comforted their relations and accompanied those who were sentenced to death on their last journey. Everybody who met him respected his humanity, he often risked his life, with no regard for himself . That is why the French call him respectfully: ”the minister of hell” or “the archangel in hell”.
Deeply trusting in god Franz Stock lived his vocation as a priest of Jesus Christ a vocation which was sometimes tormenting him. Thus he became a symbol of hope and of comfort for hundreds of people sentenced to death and their families in the darkest hours of their lives. Franz Stock has born witness with his life and for his faith. He was convinced that “God will be faithful to mankind and to his creation even if the foes of life are working and are trying to destroy the lives of innocent people”. Franz Stock must have been convinced of the presence of the faithful and reliable God at every time and everywhere. This thought must have been a source of comfort and confidence surely more than once in his darkest and most solitary hours. Franz Stock followed Jesus his way of the cross and become a peace-maker for the mortal enemies France and Germany. So he became a pioneer for a peaceful and united Europe.
Bishop Michel Pansard celebrated Holy Mass at Franz Stock’s grave in Chartres at the same time as High Mass was celebrated in Neheim. Archbishop Becker thought this an impressive signal of the French-German friendship which is represented by Franz Stock in a special way.
After High Mass in St John the Baptist Archbishop Becker opened “the canonical process about the life, the virtues and the reputation of holiness of God’s servant Franz Stock”.
He said that many Catholics thought Franz Stock as a true follower of Jesus who had accomplished Christ’s beatitudes in a perfect way. Therefore many Christians in France, as well as in Germany, had requested the beatification of Franz Stock which meant that he should be added to the register of the saints and the blessed. They referred to his life as a catholic priest who had accomplished the commandment of the love of God and of charity. He had shown that God’s love to his creatures was reflected in men’s actions.
Archbishop Becker informed his audience that a beatification could only be granted if a person had performed Christian virtues in a completely selfless and heroic way. He or she should have the reputation of a holy person, who was living with God and could help us to take our requests to God. A beatification could only take place if a regular investigation had preceded. Only impressions and supposed facts are not enough, but the result should be a complete representation and appreciation of his life so that we could get a scientific view and a sound picture of his actions and his life. He also said that the opening of the process didn’t mean that in the end there would necessarily follow the proclamation of the beatification. At the end of his speech the Archbishop wished all persons who were responsible for these proceedings God’s blessings, also persistence and energy. Heurgently invited all to accompany this process with prayers.
Afterwards the postulator and the vice-postulator handed over the certificate of appointment to the Archbishop of Paderborn and they also handed in the petition. They said: Many Christians in France and in Germany have requested to open the beatification of God’s servant Franz Stock who comes from the parish of St John the Baptist in Neheim. Archbishop Becker accepted the petition in due form. Then the official of the diocese , the Apostolic Protonotar Dr Wilhelm Henze requested to swear to God in the presence of the whole congregation to fulfil their task and obligation to the best of their belief. First Archbishop Becker took the oath and signed the record. After that the postulator and the vice-postulator handed over a list to the Archbishop. It was a list with the names of 55 persons who can tell something about the life, the virtues and the reputation of holiness of god’s servant Franz Stock. The Archiepiscopal Offizialat in Paderborn was made the place of the committee of investigation by the Archbishop. At the end of the opening act Archbishop Heinz-Josef Becker said: a beatification is not only an action of ecclesiastical administration but also a spiritual happening, a special present of our Father in Heaven. So it is essential for all faithful to help with their prayers including the members of the committee of investigation and all the witnesses. The event was finished with a common prayer and the blessing given by the Archbishop.
The commission for the performance of the process of information
Archbishop Becker appointed Monsignore Professor Dr Rüdiger Althaus archiepiscopal delegate, Father Professor Dr Heinz-Meinolf Stamm OFM was made Promotor iustitiae, Prelate Franz Hochstein was appointed notary and Elisabeth Lange from Salzkotten and Adelheid Geise from Altenbeken are aktuarins. Susanne Wagenknecht, judge of the Diocese Paderborn was appointed interpreter and Dr Peter Häger from Bestwig-Velmede, Professor Dr Alwin Hanschmidt from Vechta, Dr Hermann-Josef Schmalor and Dr Arnold Otto from Paderborn are members of the Historic Committee. Dr Andrea Ambrosi from Rome is the postulator and Pfarrer i.R. Franz Schnütgen is Vice-Postulator.
It is the business of this committee to gather comprehensive information about the life and the death of Abbé Franz Stock. They have to find documents and question witnesses. This work can take several years and in the end the Archbishop will send the records to the committee for beatification and sanctification in Rome.
- The sermon of Archbishop Becker during High Mass on the occasion of the opening of the process of the beatification of Franz Stock
- The Speech of Hans-Josef Becker at the opening the process of the beatification of Franz Stock
- Prayer for the beatification of Franz Stock
Quelle: Erzbistum Paderborn
Michel Pansard, the Archbishop of Chartres, celebrated Holy Mass in the church Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Chartres-Rechèvres where Franz Stock was buried at the same time as High Mass was celebrated in Neheim. So both congregations were united in prayer.
More information on the homepage of the diocese Chartres
The proceedings of a beatification
A beatification means for the Catholic Church:
A deceased person must have lived according to his/her faith. He/she must have followed Jesus Christ in an exemplary way and may therefore be venerated by the church of a special country, a special diocese or a certain community. The beatification of a person can be followed by a sanctification which means that this person may be venerated world-wide. There are ecclesiastical proceedings of investigation before a beatification can take place.
The local church must gather information about the life and the death of the person and they must prove that the person was a martyr or that he caused miracles. They must prove his virtue and his reputation of holiness.
The bishop sends the records to Rome where the authenticity of the documents and the witnesses is examined, in case the committee collects evidence of miracles and finally recommends the matter to the pope.
This tradition is a special characteristic of the Catholic Church, which dates back to the beginnings of the church in the first centuries. People who lived very close to God during their lives were asked to act as mediators between God and themselves. The early Christians appealed to the martyrs who had given their blood for their faith. Today people address the saints to bring their prayers and requests to God. The saints are important evidence for a Christian life. They give hope and comfort to many faithful people.
- Bericht des DOM-Radios Köln zur Eröffnung des Seligsprechungsverfahrens
- Bericht 1 von Radio-Sauerland
- Bericht 2 von Radio-Sauerland
- Das WDR-Fernsehen (Lokalzeit Südwestfalen) berichtet in der Sendung am 14. November, 19.30 Uhr über die Eröffnung des Seligsprechungsverfahrens von Abbé Franz Stock. Ursprünglich war der 13.11. als Sendetermin vom WDR angekündigt. Kurzfristig wurde die Ausstrahlung um einen Tag verschoben. Für alle die, die sich außerhalb des Empfangsgebietes befinden der Hinweis, dass der Beitrag in der WDR-Mediathek (nur 7 Tage lang) veröffentlicht wird.
Kirchliches Amtsblatt für die Erzdiözese Paderborn vom 28.09.2009
Nr. 111. Dekret zur Offenlegung des Gesuches des Postulators bezüglich der Eröffnung eines Seligsprechungsverfahrens des Dieners Gottes Franz Stock
- Mitgliederinformation des Komitees aus Anlass der Verfahrenseröffnung
Mit großer Freude können wir Ihnen mitteilen, dass der Erzbischof von Paderborn, Hans-Josef Becker, mit Zustimmung der Kongregation für die Heiligsprechung ein kirchenrechtliches Verfahren für die eventuelle Seligsprechung des Dieners Gottes Franz Stock durchführt.
Anlässlich des Beginns des Seligsprechungs-Verfahrens feiert Erzbischof Hans-Josef Becker am
Samstag, 14. November 2009, 17.30 Uhr,
in der Pfarrkirche St. Johannes Bapt. Arnsberg-Neheim (Stadtplan)
ein Pontifikalamt. Im Anschluss wird das Verfahren mit der Vereidigung der Mitglieder der Untersuchungskommission eröffnet.
Wir würden uns sehr freuen, wenn auch Sie das Seligsprechungsverfahren durch Ihre Teilnahme am Eröffnungsgottesdienst unterstützen könnten und dieses besondere Verfahren mit Ihrem Gebet begleiten.
Seit Jahrzehnten wird der Wunsch zur Seligsprechung von Franz Stock vorgetragen. Nachdem Erzbischof Becker die Zuständigkeit mit dem Einverständnis der französischen Bischöfe übernommen hat und das „nihil obstat“ - die Zustimmung der verantwortlichen Kongregation im Vatikan — vorliegt, ist nun eine Tür auf dem Weg zur Seligsprechung weit geöffnet. Mehr aber auch noch nicht. Eine große Arbeit liegt noch vor uns und den Kommissionen. Unverkennbar stehen wir aber vor einem Meilenstein.