Skip to main content

Incarcerated for saying Catholic can't be Nazi, Rupert Mayer should be emulated in India

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
Not many in India (and for that matter in most parts of the world) would have heard of Rupert Mayer; whenever his name crops up, the spontaneous response invariably is “Rupert who?” In a nutshell, Rupert Mayer was a great German Jesuit, who demonstrated unflinching courage to take on Hitler and the Nazi regime, at the height of their power! Today he is a ‘blessed’ of the Catholic Church and also regarded as the Apostle of Munich.
Rupert was born in 1876, into a well-to-do family of Stuttgart, Germany. He joined the Society of Jesus as a Diocesan Priest in 1900. The Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius Loyola influenced him greatly. After much prayer and discernment, he wrote, “Now I know my purpose, and the next step is to translate my conviction into action and to put all possible effort into educating myself for my calling.”
He was a Jesuit ‘par excellence’, deeply embedded in the Jesuit way of proceeding and totally committed to the responsibilities entrusted to him. He suffered a great deal; but he never complained about the pain he went through. He was a brilliant speaker and a prolific writer, wedded to the pursuit of justice and truth; he used both the pulpit (and public fora too) and the pen to speak truth to power. He minced no words when it came to show that he had the courage of his convictions!
Long before the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated, Rupert Mayer was passionate about the rights of all particularly when the Nazi regime denied the ordinary people freedom of speech and freedom of religion/belief.
In 1923, he accepted an invitation to address a fledgling group of national socialists on the theme ‘Can a Catholic be a national socialist?’ He accepted the invitation as a challenge totally prepared to go into a den of lions. Those who invited him felt that they had an unsuspecting ‘victim’ to be mauled, so when he stood up to address them, the huge crowd gave him a tremendous applause.
Mayer began: “I am afraid, gentlemen that your applause has come a little too soon. My answer to your question can only be a negative one: NO! A Catholic cannot be a Nazi!” The early ‘applause’ of the crowd immediately turned to ‘boos’ but Rupert Mayer had made his point! He was convinced that a disciple of Jesus could not subscribe to the Nazi ideology and had to stand up to every form of hate, violence, discrimination and divisiveness.
Mayer was a strong, blunt and vocal critic of the Nazi regime. The Nazis did not take his criticism lightly and he was imprisoned from 1937 till 1945, either in a concentration camp or in exile outside Munich. The solitary confinement did not break his spirit. It was an occasion to deepen his spirituality. This is evident in a letter which he wrote to his mother:
“In these last weeks in solitude I believe I have come into far closer contact with God Almighty in my own self and in the same measure I have become more detached and withdrawn from earthly things. So, I feel not the least worry or anxiety about my future. I place all that in God’s good hands. In myself I am completely contended and at peace.”
Though Mayer suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazi regime, he did not compromise. For him, soft-pedalling the brutality of the Nazis or even in engaging with them with diplomatic niceties was abhorrent to anyone who believed and lived the Gospel of Jesus. His resolute courage also earned him the admiration of his detractors; so much so that they were afraid to allow him to die a martyr’s death in a concentration camp and sent him to live in exile in a monastery at the fag-end of his life.
Even when the RSS Supremo denigrates Jesus and twists facts from the Bible, the Church prefers to stay silent
There is an unbelievable similarity between Mayer’s Germany and the India of today. The parallels are too striking to be overlooked. Today, vast sections of India’s population particularly the minorities, the Adivasis, the Dalits and other vulnerable communities, are at the mercy of a fascist regime.
The National Register of Citizens and the way the Kashmiri people are treated, are blatant violations of human rights. Freedom of speech and religion is almost a thing of the past. Those who take a stand have false cases foisted on them; they are hounded and harassed, sent to prison and even killed.
The economy is in a shamble; poverty and unemployment are on the rise; a miniscule corrupt few amass huge wealth. Lies and false promises are dished out in exactly the same manner done by Hitler.
Fear rules the roost: Most people are afraid to come out and take a stand. Even when the RSS Supremo denigrates Jesus and twists facts from the Bible, the Church prefers to stay silent; there are consistent attacks on Church personnel and properties. When millions of people are excluded from the mainstream or made voiceless, there is hardly a whimper of protest.
India desperately needs today the likes of a Rupert Mayer, who is rooted in the person and message of Jesus and is not afraid to take on a regime which is becoming more and more despotic. The courage and commitment of Mayer is epitomized in this prayer which he wrote in 1941 and sent to a nun with the following addendum written by hand: “This pray brought me much comfort in most difficult times. I hope that it will give you also some joy”.
“Lord, as you will, so let it be for me; And as you will, so will I walk that road; 
Help me only to know your will! 
Lord whenever you will, then is the time; And whenever you will, then I am ready, 
today and always. 
Lord, whatever you will, that I accept, And whatever you will, is gain for me; 
Enough, that I belong to you. 
Lord, because you will it, it is good; And because you will it, I have courage, 
My heart rests safely in your hands!” 
Every November 3, we celebrate the Feast of Blessed Rupert Mayer; as we do so once again, let us pray that in some small way each one of us, may emulate his courage and his commitment, in every possible way.
---
Indian human rights and peace activist/writer. Contact: cedricprakash@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Modi, Shah 'forget': Gandhi’s first Satyagraha was against citizenship law of South Africa

By Nachiketa Desai*
Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi once on January 30, 1948 but his followers raising the war cry of ‘Jai Sriram’ are killing the Mahatma every day. In his home state of Gujarat, Gandhiji was killed a thousand times in 2002 when over 2,000 Muslims were butchered, their women raped, homes and shops plundered and set on fire and even unborn babies ripped out of the wombs of their mothers.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Big 'danger' of NPR: A babu can tag anyone as doubtful citizen, Jharkhand meet told

' By Our Representative
People in large numbers from across Jharkhand gathered at the Raj Bhawan in Ranchi to demand that the Hemant Soren government reject National Population Register (NPR) and stop all NPR-related activities. The people’s organisations which participated in the dharna under the banner of the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JMM) resolved to intensify their struggle, insisting, NPR is not a Hindu-Muslim issue but is essentially anti-poor.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Haridwar Swamis lead Khudai Khidmatgar peace march in Delhi 'riot affected' areas

By Our Representative
A Khudai Kidmatgar team, which visited the riot-affected regions along with Swami Shivanand Saraswati and Swami Punyanand, has insisted that India's true heritage is the lesson of ‘vasudhaiv kutumbakam', and it is the responsibility of all to carry froward this legacy. Originally founded by Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in 1930, also known as Frontier Gandhi, Khudai Khidmatgar is claimed to have been revived by young Gandhian activist Faisal Khan in 2011.