Peter Seewald, the German journalist who published several books with Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, has recently been writing reports on the closing down of monasteries in the Diocese of Freising-Munich, always against the reverent will of the nuns in those monasteries.
In April of 2018, OnePeterFive mentioned the case of Altomünster, a thousand-year-old abbey in Bavaria. Cardinal Reinhard Marx decided to close down this abbey, in spite of the fact that there were several nuns still living there and several other younger women desiring to become nuns. These women religious were determined to foster that monastery and make it grow again. However, as Peter Seewald then reported, the Archdiocese of Munich has worked by means of lies, deceit, intimidation, and sordid methods to shut down this abbey and transfer it (and its considerable wealth) to Munich, with the apparent further help of a verdict from Rome. The “absurd situation,” in Seewald’s own words, goes so far that Cardinal Marx has ordered guards to protect the Abbey from the religious women, forbidding them to stay there or to re-enter!
Not long ago, on 7 June, Seewald dealt with the fate of another monastery. The Monastery of Reutberg is run by Franciscan nuns in upper Bavaria, and, according to Seewald, it is being destroyed with sordid methods similar to what is going on in Freising-Munich, and this in spite of the fact that “there is a large group of citizens supporting the monastery; even though there is a circle of friends which has collected several hundred thousand euros for its restoration; even though several other religious orders have already offered their assistance.” The “scandal” is, in Seewald’s eyes, that this monastery first was dispossessed of its rights and then dispossessed of a half a million euros.
Where is the control? Where is the bishop? These are questions Seewald poses.
The Monastery of Reutberg was founded in 1618, and the nuns are dedicated to a pious and Eucharistic life through which the life of Christ ought to shine. The nuns are making their own living; for centuries, they ran a brewery, which still exists under different leadership. A beautiful restaurant is adjacent to the monastery. The community of the “Mothers of the Holy Cross” have requested that they be able to send some sisters from other sister houses (in Munich and in Tanzania) to fill some personnel gaps in Reutberg. This is “an offer that one really cannot refuse,” comments Seewald. However, the office in Cardinal Marx’s ordinariate was not interested. “That is only part of the strange conduct” that can be seen in Marx’s bureaucracy, the German journalist comments.
The local parish of Sachsenkam, and also the citizens of that area – including the mayor and several leading personalities – are dedicated to help this monastery, even financially. As Ulrich Rührmair, a speaker of the lay initiative, says, to lose the monastery would be to lose “a special place where the faith was lived for many centuries, bringing forth blessings.” After a years-long policy of draining the monastery – now there are only two nuns left – the monastery finally has to receive a fair chance to recover. It is not about “rowdies,” explains Rührmair, but about “a huge number of the faithful” who have had bonds with this monastery for generations. It could continue to bring blessings for the region and foster piety among the population.
The operational pattern on the part of the Church hierarchy seems, in Seewald’s view, to be not so much the fostering of piety and spirituality, but rather a fostering of bureaucracy and of education centers more and more having a secular outlook. The journalist points out that Pope Francis, in his new document Cor orans, wishes to support monasteries of aging nuns so they may not become “easy prey for those who wish to get hold of their possessions.” In the case of Reutberg, there are a historical building, precious art treasures, and 145 acres of forest and land. All of that, Seewald says, “would go to the Archdiocese.”
In the course of his report, Seewald is able to show how the diocesan ecclesiastical policy in this matter was to obstruct attempts of other religious houses to send more nuns to Reutberg. It is shown how Marx established in 2010 an administrator for the monastery who thereby withdrew from the nuns their own financial independence and control. Additionally, a company was brought in for the administration of the monastery; Gerhard Bosl, the husband of that company’s manager, is working for the Archdiocese of Munich in the finance department. This company, Bosl Beratung GmbH, raised the costs enormously and helped drain the finances of the monastery. (Interestingly, that same company was also involved in the dissolution of the Abbey of Altomünster, as sources tell OnePeterFive.)
To an outsider, this treatment of the monastery looks like the treatment of a patient whom the doctors wish to die.
At the end of May of this year, Father Josef Beheim, the spiritual director of the monastery, was ordered to leave. Heretofore, he had been celebrating daily Mass and working for the nuns and for the larger community of the region for their own needs, such as weddings and baptisms.
At the beginning of June, 250 people came together in Reutberg and decided not to give up the just struggle for the monastery, even though the last nun has now been ordered to leave.
There exists the group “Friends of the Monastery of Reutberg,” and they have now started a petition called “Save the Monastery of Reutberg Now!,” which is addressed to Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Some observers hope this petition will receive some international support in defense of the Faith and of the traditional spirituality of the monastery. So far, the petition has gained 1,700 signatories.
As Peter Seewald so piercingly puts it in his own article: monasteries were told – even two thousand years ago – not to fit in with the times. He continues:
Perhaps also one thousand years ago when the Irish-Scottish Benedictine monk Winfried, called Bonifatius – the “Apostle of the Germans” – founded upon papal request monasteries without end which expanded upon the land like fixing points of a net, in order to be there for God and to give strength to man; in order to be the light on the mountain when, down in the valley, it became dark.