Feast of Marc Boegner (December 18)   Leave a comment

Above:  Marc Boegner

Image in the Public Domain

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MARC BOEGNER (FEBRUARY 21, 1881-DECEMBER 18, 1970)

French Reformed Minister and Ecumenist

Marc Boegner had to make a difficult decision in the early 1940s.  He had to decide how best to save Jewish lives and resist Nazism.  His method led to his inclusion in the Yad Vasham, the Righteous Among the Nations, on November 26, 1987.

Boegner, born in Épinal, France, on February 21, 1881, came from a minority population–French Protestants.  He studied in Orléans and Paris, focusing on law before making the turn toward theology.  Our saint, ordained in 1905, became a minister in the Reformed Church of France.  He served in rural Aouste-sur-Sye, Drôme, until 1911.  Then he taught theology at the denominational House of Missions for seven years.  In 1918 he returned to parish ministry, at Poissy-Annonciation.  He remained in that post until 1952.  Boegner, the President of the Protestant Federation of France (1929-1961), doubled as the President of the Reformed Church of France (1938-1950).

The Nazi occupation of France created a quandary for many French men and women.  What was the best way to resist?  Many joined the Maquis and used violence.  Many French Christians–Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic–sheltered Jews; some of these Christians died for doing so.  Boegner, outwardly (to an extent) a collaborator, helped Jews and spoke out on their behalf.  He, a member of the National Council of the French State (Vichy State) and a recipient of the Order of the Francisque, sheltered Jews.  He also encouraged other Protestants to do the same.  Boegner also interceded in vain with “Black Peter” Pierre Laval (1883-1945) to spare the lives of young Jews.  Our saint’s outspoken opposition to anti-Semitic policies and to forced French labor in Germany placed his life and liberty at great risk.  In 1945, when Marshal Philippe Pétain went on trial for treason, Boegner defended him.

Boegner, a conciliator, was active in international ecumenism, starting in the 1930s.  He helped to create the World Council of Churches (1948) and served as its Co-President (1948-1954).  Our saint also served as an observer to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Boegner died on December 18, 1970.  He was 89 years old.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 4, 2019 COMMON ERA

INDEPENDENCE DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ADALBERO AND ULRIC OF AUGSBURG, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ELIZABETH OF PORTUGAL, QUEEN AND PEACEMAKER

THE FEAST OF SAINT PIER GIORGIO FRASSATI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC SERVANT OF THE POOR AND OPPONENT OF FASCISM

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Almighty God, we praise you for your servant Marc Boegner,

through whom you have called the church to its tasks and renewed its life.

Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit,

whose voices will give strength to your church and proclaim the reality of your reign,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Psalm 46

1 Corinthians 3:11-23

Mark 10:35-45

–Adapted from Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 60

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