Beatification of Fr. Dehon halted due to claims of anti-Semitism

Source: FSSPX News


The beatification of Fr. Léon Dehon (1843-1925, figure of social Catholicism, founder of the Congregation of priests of the Sacred Heart) was planned on April 24 last. It was deferred because of the illness and subsequent death of John Paul II. La Croix of June 9 has announced that Benedict XVI has just entrusted the task of re-examining the entire dossier to an informal commission, within the Secretariat of State. Anti-Semitic texts by Fr. Dehon passed unnoticed during the proceedings set up by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

 Alerted at the end of February 2005 by the historian Jean-Dominique Durand, the French episcopate immediately informed Rome. Cardinal Ratzinger, having examined the dossier as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, declared that “the Church must acknowledge her errors and take the consequences”. But it was too late to stop the process: the decree recognizing the miracle necessary for every beatification as well as the heroic nature of the virtues of the venerable, had already been promulgated on April 19, 2004. The date of the ceremony was set. The death of the pope changed the course of things.

 The French government made it known that it would not be represented at the beatification ceremony if it took place. Furthermore, the French episcopate even went as far as considering a public denunciation of this beatification, so serious did the affair seem to them.

 The debate centered on the writings of Fr. Dehon, seven texts to be exact, including some extracts cited by La Croix: “Passion for riches, is for them (the Jews) an instinct of their race.” They have a “craving for gold.” The Jews are “united in their hatred of Christ”, they are the enemies par excellence of the Church and Christians. “The anti-Semitic reaction is a sign of hope”. And Fr. Dehon proposes the anti-Semitic Austrian movement, launched in 1893 by Karl Lueger, as a role model.

 The defenders of Léon Dehon emphasize that these few texts should be put in their context. “Fr. Dehon was a man full of love,” maintains Fr. Joseph, superior of the community of priests of the Sacred Heart in Paris. The Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart – the “Dehonians” – numbers 2,226 religious in 38 countries.