Julia Smucker, a Mennonite Catholic over at Vox-Nova, has a great reflection on Michael Sattler. Sattler was one of the early Anabaptist leaders and the author of the Schleitheim Articles. He was also a Benedictine Monk, and he brought many of the principles of Benedictine monasticism into the Anabaptist movement. I agree with Julia that a true witness to Sattler’s martyrdom would be for Mennonites to cease defining ourselves in opposition to the Other of Roman Catholicism. Witness to the nonviolent reconciling love of God includes reconciliation with fellow Christians.
On this anniversary of the 1527 martyrdom of Swiss Anabaptist leader Michael Sattler, his witness is being commemorated in a new way: not for the heroism or heresy (depending on who you ask) of breaking with the Catholic Church, but for his uncompromised commitment to social justice and nonviolence that now serves as a rich foundation for bridging the Anabaptist Mennonite and Catholic Benedictine traditions.
This commemoration is a milestone in the nascent project of my dear friends and mentors Ivan and Lois Kauffman, who conscientiously brought their Mennonite heritage into the Catholic Church long before it was cool. Their recent establishment of the Michael Sattler House, intended to provide renewal and connections to people involved in service and social justice, as well as to connect the spiritual resources of the Anabaptist and Benedictine traditions, has additional significance as a contribution to the emerging conversation around ecumenical martyrology. As…
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