A German bishop suspends the cause of holiness of the founder of the Schonstatt movement

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TRIER, Germany — Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier has suspended proceedings for the cause of the holiness of Father Joseph Kentenich, founder of the international Schonstatt movement.

The German Catholic News Agency DNA Ackermann said he made the decision in consultation with the Vatican due to allegations of sexual assault and abuse of power by Kentenich. DNA said Ackermann called for more research on Father Kentenich, saying the diocese would not be involved.

The allegations against Kentenich were made during an apostolic visitation in the early 1950s, but were only uncovered when a researcher found them in the Vatican archives in 2020. The cause of Kentenich’s sainthood was opened in 1975 in the diocese of Trier, Germany, and was in the diocese phase, which is the first step in a candidate’s cause before he is sent to Rome for further investigation.

The allegations by the Sisters of Mary of Schonstatt described a questionable “father cult” and style of leadership, as well as denominational practices and impermissible physical touching. The incidents are said to have occurred mainly in the late 1940s.

Kentenich had to leave Germany in 1951 after an investigation in Rome and was sent to the United States. An American has alleged that Kentenich sexually abused him between 1958 and 1962. The allegations have previously been investigated in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The new survey must determine whether the previous survey meets modern criteria.

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