A German prelate known as the "Lion of Münster" for standing up to the Nazi regime was beatified in front of 10,000 of his compatriots at a ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday.

 

Cardinal Clemens August von Galen decried Adolf Hitler’s policy of eugenics, which called for euthanasia for "unproductive citizens" such as the disabled, in a famous sermon in 1941 while still a bishop in his diocese of Westphalia.

 

Sunday is the 1,200th anniversary of the founding of the archdiocese of Münster, the oldest in Germany, over which the cardinal presided from 1933 to 1943.

 

Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided at the beatification ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica.

 

Beatification is the penultimate step on the road toward being declared a saint.

 

German Pope Benedict XVI attended the ceremony, but has delegated each of the beatification ceremonies during his papacy so far to a cardinal. In contrast to his predecessor John Paul II, the pope has decided to personally handle only canonization ceremonies, which are proclamations of full sainthood.

 

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