Schoenstatt founder’s beatification cause put on hold

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA


Father Joseph Kentenich. / CNA file photo.

Rome Newsroom, May 3, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The beatification cause of Father Joseph Kentenich, the founder of the Schoenstatt Movement, has been put on hold while accusations of abuse are further investigated.

Bishop Stephan Ackermann of the German Diocese of Tier announced the suspension of the diocesan phase of Kentenich’s beatification process on Tuesday, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

“The discussions of the last two years have shown that there is a need for in-depth research into the person and work of Joseph Kentenich,” Ackermann said. “That’s why I would very much welcome it if there were corresponding research in the coming years.”

“I am aware that the suspension of the beatification process is a painful step for the Schoenstatt family,” he added.

The bishop of Trier said in 2020 that he would establish a commission of historians to review the founder’s beatification cause after it was disclosed that Kentenich may have acted in a coercive and manipulative manner toward members of the Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary. Then in March 2021, Ackermann said he would set up an “expert group.”

According to the Diocese of Trier, the decision to pause the process was discussed with the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Responding to the decision, the General Presidium of the International Schoenstatt Work said: “We accept this decision, not without thanks to the diocese for the work already done in the process. Schoenstatt will make use of the suspension of the beatification process for further intensive examination of the historical contexts.”

It added: “Where previously restraint and discretion were required out of consideration for the ongoing beatification proceedings, questions and findings can now be treated and communicated with the necessary openness. Considerations regarding the framework of the continued research are underway.”

Kentenich founded the Schoenstatt ecclesial movement in a chapel in Schoenstatt, west-central Germany, in 1914. He went to the U.S. in 1951 and was permitted to return to Germany in October 1965. He died three years later. A beatification process was launched in 1975.

The movement, which now includes priests, consecrated women, and laypeople, is active in 42 countries and focused on spiritual formation and Marian spirituality.

Schoenstatt, in the diocese of Trier, is still the movement’s headquarters.

In 2020, theologian and Church historian Alexandra von Teuffenbach published information about her research into Vatican-commissioned assessments of the Schoenstatt Movement.

The assessments reportedly portrayed Kentenich as wielding a manipulative and coercive power over the consecrated women in the movement, sometimes of “highly sexualized” nature.

The movement denies claims that its founder was abusive.

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