Information on the Beatification and Canonization Process
The process for the beatification and canonization of Father Kentenich was opened on February 10, 1975, in Trier, Germany.
Interview about the Beatification Process
Father Eduardo Aguirre, postulator in the beatification process for Father Joseph Kentenich since 2017 (see photo on the right), answers questions regarding the status of the process.
Rome, 15 July 2022
What is the current status of the beatification process of Father Kentenich?
- First, some general information and data:
- The beatification process for Fr. Kentenich is still in the diocesan stage (in the Diocese of Trier, Germany), although the study of his life and work is largely complete.
- Of his published and unpublished writings (letters, notes of presentations, personal writings, etc.), which comprise almost 100,000 pages, about 32,000 documents, have been catalogued. Research was carried out in 111 ecclesiastical and civil archives in different countries.
- About 200 people who knew Fr. Kentenich personally and worked with him were heard as witnesses.
- The "call of holiness" is widespread. People from over 90 countries have so far contacted Father Kentenich's secretariat in Germany. Almost two million answers to prayer are documented.
- All this required an enormous amount of work, which has now lasted for 47 years. Some aspects of this research are not yet fully completed, so the diocesan phase cannot yet be closed.
- Since the beginning of 2020, it has been possible to do research in the archives of the Holy Office – today's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It should not be forgotten that Fr. Kentenich lived in exile for 14 years due to administrative measures of the Holy Office.
- After the completion of the diocesan stage, the Vatican or Roman phase follows, in which all these extensive documents, writings, protocols ... of the legal proceedings must be sent to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints in Rome, where these documents will be examined, confirmed and evaluated. This can also take several years. This dicastery has the task of verifying whether the Servant of God (this is the name given to the person whose life is examined during a process) has heroically realized the Christian virtues and led a holy life. If this is confirmed, then the Dicastery can propose to the Holy Father to declare the Servant of God as "venerable".
- The next step would then be the beatification of the venerable servant of God. To this end, it is necessary to recognize a miracle that occurred at the intercession of Fr. Kentenich. If a possible miracle is reported, it is necessary to initiate a new process to investigate the case. This also has a first phase, namely in the diocese where the miracle happened, collecting all documents, testimonies and relevant studies. This is followed by the Roman phase, in which the documents must be checked and confirmed in order to reach a final verdict. If the miracle is confirmed and approved by the Congregation, the Pope can beatify the venerable servant of God.
- In order for a "Blessed" to be canonized, that is, venerated worldwide as a saint in the Church, a second miracle must be recognized.
- On the current discussion about the person of Father Kentenich:
- At the beginning of July 2020, in a surprising way and following the opening of the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from the reign of Pope Pius XII, alleged allegations of abuse of power and immoral behavior by Father Kentenich against the Institute of the Sisters of Mary, of which he was the founder and director, were published in some media in Italy and Germany. These allegations were made in a journalistic manner and without further basis and tried to show that this was the reason why the founder was separated from his foundation and sent into exile in the USA.
- These accusations, and the way they have been made, have caused pain and some confusion in the Schoenstatt Movement. At the same time, the question arose about the beatification process for Father Kentenich.
- In view of the accusations made, I would like to refer to some statements and answers given by responsible and representative bodies of the Schoenstatt Movement since July 2020. These can be found on www.schoenstatt.com and www.schoenstatt.de.
- The latest news regarding the case: On May 3, 2022, the Bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, issued a communiqué in which he announced that he was suspending the diocesan beatification process for Father Kentenich. Rome (the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints) had no influence whatsoever in this decision.
- Since that day, explanations have been made by the General Presidium of Schoenstatt, by the regional presidencies in various countries and also by me as a postulator about the significance and consequences for the causa of Fr. Kentenich.
- The suspension of Father Kentenich's beatification process does not mean that the case is closed and over. It remains in a state of "calm", in the sense that Bishop Ackermann will not take any further initiatives and will not provide any further financial resources from Trier to promote it. "Suspension" in this context means that the bishop and those who act responsibly on his behalf are not actively advancing the process at this time.
- He expects and asks that a thorough, objective and transparent investigation be continued to clarify the allegations that have recently been made against Father Kentenich. Bishop Ackermann has made it clear that the process can be resumed if new findings are available that satisfactorily answer all open questions.
- Therefore, on the part of the Schoenstatt Family, the "call of holiness" of Fr. Kentenich can be spread as usual in a prudent manner. In doing so, the guidelines of the Church should be respected. The Church's judgment on the holiness of Fr. Kentenich should not be prejudged.
- As can be seen from the statements of the General Presidium of the Schoenstatt Movement, initiatives have been taken in the Schoenstatt Family – at different levels and in different teams – and serious efforts have been made to thoroughly research and make more transparent and to come to terms with this period of Schoenstatt history. This is a very important and positive consequence of the current situation.
- In this sense, in view of the challenges faced by Schoenstatt due to the questioning of Father Kentenich, it is of great importance to understand more deeply the reasons for his actions and his engagement with the Holy Office, to internalize his charism and mission in order to gain more clarity, and to make his prophetic contribution better known to our time.
What would a beatification and canonization of the founder mean for the Schoenstatt Movement?
Canonization means a recognition and confirmation on the part of the Church that Fr. Kentenich has lived the Christian virtues in an exemplary manner; that he became holy in following Christ, that he was docile and ready for the work of the Holy Spirit, and that he faithfully and consistently realized the will of God in his life.
In this way, the Church can present him as an example of holiness and show his example of life as a path to holiness for the people of today.
Likewise, and this seems to me to be particularly important – the Church would recognize the importance and timeliness of the charism that Fr. Kentenich has received as a gift and mission of God for our time. In this way, the Church can open herself even more to accept and appreciate Schoenstatt's message, the spirituality and pedagogy that we have to give for the present time.
For the Schoenstatt Family, the beatification and canonization of the founder would be a strong incentive to work more strongly and responsibly to bring Fr. Kentenich's charism to life in the Church, to follow him on his path to holiness, and to fulfill the mission that God has entrusted to us through him.
We also hope that with the beatification and canonization of Fr. Kentenich, Schoenstatt's source of grace – the Covenant of Love with Mary and the Shrine – as well as its spirituality, pedagogy and the various apostolic initiatives, will be recognized as an enrichment for the Church.
What initiatives are there within the Schoenstatt Movement to support the process of the beatification of Father Kentenich?
It can be said with great certainty that the worldwide Schoenstatt Family prays for the founder's beatification. Added to this is the faithful commitment in the covenant of love with Mary for the mission of Schoenstatt. Through prayer and knowledge of Father Kentenich's life story, a personal bond with him grows, trusting that he is in heaven and can intercede for us.
In the countries where Schoenstatt has reached a certain level of development, a "Father Kentenich Secretariat " is established with the aim of spreading the "call of holiness". This is done through the publication of prayers for beatification and canonization, novenas, newsletters and other material. In addition, the Secretariat receives prayer requests entrusted to the intercession of Fr. Kentenich and collects reports on "answers to prayers". The central secretariat is located in Schoenstatt, Germany. It is run by Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary.
In the last three years, prayer circles or groups have emerged in 20 countries, which are connected by WhatsApp and already include more than 2,000 people. Through daily prayers, shrine visits, adoration times and the like, they work to ensure that Father Kentenich's beatification process progresses. These prayer groups are in contact with the respective secretariats in the different countries.
In general, in the organized communities of Schoenstatt, the study, reappraisal and dissemination of Fr. Kentenich's spiritual heritage is encouraged, and initiatives are constantly being developed to translate it into concrete works that contribute to the realization of his charism. Thus, in the various countries where Schoenstatt is present, social works, schools, pastoral and apostolic activities, books, etc. have been created.
As already mentioned, due to the current controversy surrounding Father Kentenich, research and examination of his person, his work and his charism in Schoenstatt has intensified considerably.
Why would it be valuable for the universal Church to count Father Kentenich among the canonized saints?
So that his charism may be accepted and fruitful for the Church of this new era. What is important for us is not so much the recognition of Fr. Kentenich's personal and individual holiness, but also the appreciation and acceptance of Schoenstatt's contribution to a pedagogy of faith that responds to the pastoral needs of the new evangelization in this third millennium. It is a matter of forming a "new man" in a "new community" in a covenant of love with Mary, our Mother and Educator; a true Christian with a distinct apostolic disposition, in a Church that is supposed to be "the family of God" and is "on the move"," as Pope Francis would say.
Fr. Kentenich wanted to form personalities capable of uniting the natural with the supernatural reality. They are to exemplify a Christianity capable of integrating the human and the divine and creating a new cultural synthesis bearing the seal of Christ. Faith is not something separate from normal life or a variable option that can be dispensed without major consequences. In our Christian vision, which flows from the truth of Christ, our attachment to Christ must be linked to family life, work, friendship, economic activities, science, art and politics... and give meaning to everything that constitutes our existence and animate all these areas.
In this sense, Father Kentenich wanted to make a contribution from Schoenstatt. He wanted to form Christian leaders who would work with an ecclesiastical sense for a new evangelization in the midst of today's world.
By recognizing the charism of Father Kentenich, it would be better possible to offer the covenant of love with Mary and the Schoenstatt Shrine as a fruitful source of grace and as a gift for the whole Church. In this way, Schoenstatt could contribute even more decisively to the Church's mission for the new evangelization in the new millennium.
P. Eduardo Aguirre
Possibilities to enhance the process:
- Prayers for a favorable process
- Living the charismas of Father Kentenich and proclaiming them
- Passing on to others informative materials and prayer texts
- Reporting testimonies, answers to petitions and intentions
- Financial support through donations