VATICAN CITY -- A German bishop known as the ''Lion of Muenster" for his anti-Nazi sermons during World War II is closer to sainthood after his beatification yesterday in St. Peter's Basilica.
Pope Benedict XVI hailed the ''heroic courage" of Clemens August von Galen and described the bishop, who condemned anti-Semitism, as a model for those in public roles today.
Von Galen died in 1946, at age 68, a few weeks after Pope Pius XII raised him to the rank of cardinal.
Some Jews have asserted that Pius XII did not act forcefully to stop the Holocaust. The Vatican has denied this.
''Von Galen feared God more than man, and this gave him the courage to say and to do things that many intelligent persons did not do in that period in Germany," Benedict said.
The pope went to the basilica at the end of the ceremony to greet churchmen, public officials, and pilgrims who had traveled from Germany.
Von Galen, who joins the church's list of the ''blessed" through his beatification, dedicated himself to ''defending the rights of God, of the church, of man, which the national socialist [Nazi] regime violated in a grave and systematic way, in the name of an aberrant, neo-pagan ideology," Benedict said.
Beatification is the last formal step before sainthood.
Later, addressing pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, Benedict praised the bishop for protecting the Jews.
Aiming to give his church new role models, Pope John Paul II lead beatification ceremonies before large crowds in St. Peter's Square. Benedict, has turned over that role to prelates.