Pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink, Pray For Us
Among the good people of Lübeck's "four native sons — three Catholic priests and a Lutheran pastor — who were beheaded in quick succession on Nov. 10, 1943 by the Nazi regime," pictured on the far right with his companions is the one whom, for obvious reasons, will not be beatified — Beatification of Nazi Martyrs Divides Lutherans, Catholics. From the report:
- The commingled blood of Catholic priests Johannes Prassek, Hermann Lange, Eduard Mueller and Lutheran pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink spawned an ecumenical cooperation between the city’s majority Lutherans and minority Catholics that still lasts.
But the Vatican’s decision to beatify the three priests on June 25 — but not Stellbrink — is testing that ecumenical spirit, and has some religious leaders worried that the event could drive a wedge between the two communities.
“People worry that the priests who are beatified will be seen as higher than Stellbrink, and that the focus will be on the three, not the four,” said the Rev. Constanze Maase, pastor of Luther Church in Luebeck.
“We recognize that beatification is an important part of the identity of the Catholic Church. But there is a sadness, because it makes the ecumenical work more complicated,” he said.
UPDATE: Another report, by Gunther Simmermacher, whence comes the photo that graces this post, states that "Rev. Stellbrink will be honored in a special way that day as well" — Priests to be beatified were joyful as they awaited execution by Nazis. The article mentions "conservative local politician Hans-Lothar Fauth, a Catholic, who has said that all four have long been publicly acclaimed as saints, regardless of denomination, and therefore require no official recognition."
The article also notes that "Rev. Stellbrink was the first Protestant cleric to be executed in Germany. Unlike his Catholic friends, he received no support from his church, which rehabilitated him only 50 years later, noting its 'pain and shame' at the disgraceful treatment of the heroic pastor."