Tag Archives: Flossenburg

July 19 2019 – Charles Moore on Bishop George Bell and a Special Commemoration Service at Christ Church, Oxford – Friday evening – 19/07/2019

download (29)

Charles Moore

IMG_3057

“The Spectator’s Notes” – Charles Moore – ‘The Spectator’ – 20 July 2019 – Page 9

Seventy-five years ago on Saturday, the July plot failed. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg placed a bomb in a briefcase next to Hitler in the conference room of the Wolf’s Lair, but someone moved the briefcase a little. When the bomb detonated, the heavy conference table shielded Hitler from the blast. Stauffenberg and many other conspirators were caught. He was executed early the next morning.

This Friday, in Christ Church, Oxford, a special service will commemorate the plot [Stauffenberg’s failed attempt to kill Hitler 75 years ago], and all those who resisted Nazism in Germany. It will centre on the altar dedicated to George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, and the main external supporter of German Christian resistance to Hitler.

In Sweden in May 1942, Bell met a young German pastor called Hans Schoünfeld [Schonfeld] and the famous theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who would later be executed in Flossenbürg concentration camp. The former disclosed to him the extent of the resisters’ plot to overthrow Hitler, giving him many of the key names. Charged with this information, Bell went to see Anthony Eden, the foreign secretary. Could the Allies help, with assurances that they would negotiate a settlement with a new German state that renounced aggression and embraced Christian principles? Writing to Eden afterwards, Bell asked: ‘If there are men in Germany also ready to wage war against the monstrous tyranny of the Nazis from within, is it right to discourage or ignore them?’ Eden was suspicious that the moves by the churchmen might be untrustworthy ‘peace-feelers’, which Hitler’s spies were bound to know about. Besides, the Allies were edging towards the doctrine of unconditional surrender. Bell’s efforts came to nothing. The July plotters acted without exterior help. They failed, and died horribly.

Controversy about this will never cease. It is easy to sympathise both with the pleading of the Bishop and with the scepticism of the foreign secretary. But one has to be impressed by Bell’s striking way of putting it: ‘Germany was the first country in Europe to be occupied by the Nazis’, and so its people needed liberation as much as any other. At the service will be read out the words of Helmuth James von Moltke, a resister to the Nazis who opposed the assassination of Hitler on the grounds that this would make him a martyr, but was executed for treason all the same. In his farewell letter to his wife, von Moltke wrote: ‘In the last analysis, the dramatic thing about the trial was this … what we had discussed were questions of the practical-ethical demands of Christianity. Nothing more; it is for this, and this alone, that we have been condemned …Your husband … stood … not as a Protestant, not as a landed proprietor, not as a nobleman, not as a Prussian, not as a German — but as a Christian and as nothing else…’

Faithful readers will know that this column has defended Bishop Bell from a charge of child abuse which the Church of England chose to accept as true 70 years after the alleged acts. A full inquiry by Lord Carlile proved that the processes used to investigate this claim had been worthless. The Church was forced to accept this. It refused, however, to pursue the logic of Carlile’s finding and declare Bell innocent until proved guilty. The Archbishop of Canterbury stated that a ‘significant cloud’ still hangs over Bell; but the cloud is not evidenced. By chance, I was in Chichester for a family gathering last weekend. We stayed at 4 Canon Lane, a guesthouse which was, until the accusation, called George Bell House. His name was then painted out. I was sorely tempted to paint it back again, but realised this would upset the blameless staff, so contented myself with expressing my thoughts in the visitors’ book. I also reminded myself of the geography of the Bishop’s Palace. ‘Carol’, Bell’s accuser, alleged that Bell would collect her from his kitchen and take her upstairs to his study, where he abused her. In fact, the kitchen she mentioned belonged to the theological college next door, and Bell had no access. His study was elsewhere.

On the crenellations which surround the cathedral’s impressive Victorian spire, we spotted three peregrines looking dramatic against the evening sun. The return of birds of prey is an attractive feature of modern times. The downside is that more raptors means fewer songbirds.

~ Charles Moore

April 10 2019 -“Never forget: Recalling the Death of Bonhoeffer” – Deacon Greg Kandra

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/deaconsbench/2019/04/never-forget-recalling-the-death-of-bonhoeffer/

Never Forget: Recalling the Death of Bonhoeffer

German Federal Archives/Wikipedia

The great preacher, writer, theologian and witness to the faith, Dietrich Bonhoeffer,was executed on April 9, 1945, just days before the Nazi camp where he was held, Flossenbürg, was liberated. He was 39.

Here’s what happened: 

On 4 April 1945, the diaries of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Abwehr, were discovered, and in a rage upon reading them, Hitler ordered that the Abwehr conspirators [those who had plotted for Hitler’s assassination] be destroyed. 

Bonhoeffer was led away just as he concluded his final Sunday service and asked an English prisoner, Payne Best, to remember him to Bishop George Bell of Chichester if he should ever reach his home: “This is the end—for me the beginning of life.”

Bonhoeffer was condemned to death on 8 April 1945 by SS judge Otto Thorbeck at a drumhead court-martial without witnesses, records of proceedings or a defense in Flossenbürg concentration camp.  He was executed there by hanging at dawn on 9 April 1945, just two weeks before soldiers from the United States 90th and 97th Infantry Divisions liberated the camp,  three weeks before the Soviet capture of Berlin and a month before the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Bonhoeffer was stripped of his clothing and led naked into the execution yard where he was hanged, along with fellow conspirators Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, Canaris’s deputy General Hans Oster, military jurist General Karl Sack, General Friedrich von Rabenau, businessman Theodor Strünck, and German resistance fighter Ludwig Gehre.

Eberhard Bethge, a student and friend of Bonhoeffer’s, writes of a man who saw the execution: “I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer… kneeling on the floor praying fervently to God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer…In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.”

His legacy has been profound:

Bonhoeffer’s life as a pastor and theologian of great intellect and spirituality who lived as he preached—and his being killed because of his opposition to Nazism—exerted great influence and inspiration for Christians across broad denominations and ideologies, such as Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, the anti-communist democratic movement in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, and the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa.

Bonhoeffer is commemorated in the liturgical calendars of several Christian denominations on the anniversary of his death, 9 April. This includes many parts of the Anglican Communion, where he is sometimes identified as a martyr.

In our own troubled time, Bonhoeffer’s courage in the face of evil, and his suffering in the face of persecution, stand as a testament to true Christian witness — the very essence of what it means to be a “martyr.”

His likeness is preserved in Westminster Abbey, alongside other martyrs, including St. Oscar Romero and Martin Luther King, Jr.

He continues to teach and inspire Christians today.

“The first service one owes to others in a community involves listening to them,” he wrote. “Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for others is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives God’s Word but also lends us God’s ear. . . . We do God’s work for our brothers and sisters when we learn to listen to them.”

He also urged us to be open to God’s will in our lives, whatever that may be.

“We must be ready,” he said, “to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pray for us.

April 7 2019 – Coburg Conference 2011″ – Chichester and Arundel Cathedrals – ‘The Parish Proclaimer’

download (1)

Arundel Cathedral

https://www.arundelcathedral.org/proclaimer/Proclaimer%20Lent%202012_2.pdf

ECUMENICAL COBURG CONFERENCE XIV

By Anne Dunkley & Sherien Morgan

Since the 1980s, delegates from the Anglican Cathedral of Chichester, the
Evangelical Church of Bayreuth, the Lutheran Church of Berlin, and the Roman
Catholic Cathedral of Bamberg, have met every two years to discuss current topics
which affect them.

The 25th anniversary of the first conference was held in Chichester on 16 – 19
October last year, the delegation being led by the Dean of Chichester, the Very Revd.
Nicholas Frayling and attended by the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt. Revd. John Hind.
There were thirty-four delegates present and the conference took place largely within
the Cathedral Close, using Vicars’ Hall and George Bell House.

The Chichester delegation consisted of eight members, one of whom had not attended before. The theme was ‘The Challenge of Secularism in the New Europe’. Once again, summaries of the texts of the two keynote presentations had been translated and circulated in advance, and this was a great help in enabling delegates to discuss points arising from the presentations, both with the speakers, and with each other in the group
sessions.

This year’s theme was ‘The Challenge of Secularism in the New Europe’.
Daily worship was led in turn by the different delegations, whether in the Bishop’s
private chapel, the Lady Chapel of Chichester Cathedral or Arundel Cathedral; also
the delegates had the opportunity to attend Evensong in Chichester Cathedral sung
by the Cathedral choir.

The second day of the conference was held in the local parish of Arundel. Bishop
David Farrer, vicar of St. Nicholas Church, welcomed the delegates to the parish
church, itself unique in being an Anglican church which is attached to the Roman
Catholic Fitzalan Chapel, property of the Duke of Norfolk, and resting place of
deceased members of the Fitzalan Howard family for many hundreds of years. Only a
glass screen separates the two places of worship. Arundel parish has an active
ecumenical partnership with the town of Stegaurach in Franconia, where the Roman
Catholic congregation shares its church building with the Lutheran community, and
both communities jointly support an Indian aid project in Tamil Nadu.

Here, seated in the Anglican pews, the delegates heard the second keynote speaker
of the conference, Bishop Kieran Conry, Roman Catholic Bishop of Arundel and
Brighton, in a stimulating paper on ‘The Challenge of Secularism for the Churches in
Europe today’.
4
Bishop Kieran explained that if secularism means the appropriation by the state of
things which formerly belonged to the church – amongst them authority, property
and social function, including teaching and nursing – it is not entirely negative. The
media expected the Pope’s visit to England and Scotland last year to be very
unpopular, in that he is Head of a Church that is seen to be contrary to values
promoted by society today, when in fact they were quite wrong and he was
received with great enthusiasm.
Society is not openly hostile, but the problem lies with the separation of the sacred
and what might be termed ‘secular’. The natural world is governed by reason, and
the Church can no longer claim its ancient authority as being the voice of God, as
this is not open to scientific scrutiny. Modern civilisation must be tolerant of
religion, but it is preferred that it is practised in private. The great threat is the
indifference of the great majority in society for whom religion is irrelevant, and the
danger is that we start to believe it and lose our nerve. But one of the most positive
aspects of the response to the Pope’s visit is a renewed sense of confidence amongst
Catholics and other Christians, and this must be one of the first responses to the
challenge. Dialogue between religions must be promoted and deepened, enabling us
to understand their ‘otherness’ as well as transcendent ‘otherness’ of God. This
dialogue will promote living together, working together for peace and justice, mutual
understanding and sharing of spiritual riches. And finally the need for humility is
very important, with Christ as our model. The church will not be heard today if she
shouts more loudly, but may be heard if she speaks more quietly.

Delegates divided up into small discussion groups to examine questions Bishop
Kieran had suggested. Meanwhile, it was indeed heart-warming to see Anglican
Dean Nicholas Frayling, Roman Catholic Bishop Kieran, Lutheran Bishop Dorothea
Greiner, and Anglican Bishop David Farrer deeply engrossed in discussion standing
in the chancel of St. Nicholas parish church.

Then to Arundel Cathedral, where the Dean, Canon Tim Madeley, introduced both
the building and the shrine of St. Philip Howard, son of the 4th Duke of Norfolk. The
daily conference worship was led here by the Bamberg delegation, and again was felt
to be particularly relevant, as it was the feast of St. Luke, who himself brought many
secular, positive elements into the church. The delegates were warmly welcomed by
the Mayor of Arundel, Mrs Wendy Eve, to Arundel Town Hall where lunch was
provided and served by the ladies of St. Nicholas church and Arundel Cathedral
together. Both Bishop Kieran and Canon Tim were able to join the conference
5
delegates for lunch and also later for dinner. After lunch there was a visit of Arundel
Castle, by courtesy of His Grace, the Duke of Norfolk. During the tour of the Castle
the delegates learnt more about Arundel as the seat of the Earl Marshal of England,
and the home of the leading Roman Catholic family. It was remarked that many of
the portraits on the walls were of the same people whose portraits were seen in
Schloss Coburg during the last conference, and that they did not look any more
cheerful at Arundel!
The evening was dedicated to an Anniversary Dinner to celebrate 25 years of the
Coburg conferences, with the all-Sussex food being generously donated by local
producers. Guests of Honour were His Excellency Mr Georg Boomgaarden, the
Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany and Mrs Boomgaarden.

The Ambassador made reference to his own keen interest in Bishop George Bell and his
work with Dietrich Bonhoeffer. There were many present with long-standing and
close links with the Coburg conferences both past and present, in particular Bishop
John Hind and Canon of Honour Wolfgang Klausnitzer, and it was a very happy
occasion.

St. Nicholas Church founded a thriving and enthusiastic link in 2002 with the
Roman Catholic Parish Church of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, sited in
Stegaurach, a small town on the outskirts of the World Heritage medieval city of
Bamburg in Bavaria, southern Germany. Many friendships have been formed with
the people of Stegaurach as a result of visits both ways, in which everyone, young
and not so young, is invited to take part. This link is of particular importance, as it is
a truly ecumenical link, St. Nicholas is the first Anglican Church in their diocese to
twin with a Catholic Church, which itself is shared with the Lutheran community of
Stegaurach, and the partnership is shared with us, the parishioners of the Cathedral.

Many visits have taken place since the summer of 2003, during the summer of 2010
thirty seven of us went again, when we visited Flossenburg concentration camp with
our friends – a deeply moving experience – and it was there that Dietrich
Bonhoeffer, great friend of Bishop George Bell, was executed in 1945. Indeed we
look forward to the next visit of our German friends this summer; they will arrive on
Wednesday 15 August and remain with us until Monday 20 August.
Whilst they are here, there will be a full programme of social activities, trips out and
many opportunities to join with them and our friends from St. Nicholas in acts of
worship, and you will also have a chance to meet with them after Mass at the
Cathedral.
6
They are a very friendly group who speak English well. We have many host families
who already welcome visitors into their homes, however, this year we are looking for
even more volunteers to help with this side of the undertaking.

All we need is people to offer, for the most part, bed and breakfast. We would be
particularly delighted to hear from people who could host a young family.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please keep an eye on the
weekly parish newsletter for further details.

Editor’s Note

You can look at many photos and use the Google Translator (or similar) on the
website for Stegaurach: visit http://www.stegaurach.de

If you want to read more about ecumenism at work, you can visit a special page on
the Diocese of Chichester’s website: from their home page at http://www.diochi.org.uk
visit the ‘Activities’ section and then click on ‘European Ecumenical Committee’

IMG_1814

Chichester Cathedral