II. Therese Neumann and Minister Josef Naber

The name "Therese Neumann" became known to the whole world. Without doubt the things would have developed very differently, if a Josef Naber hadn't been minister in Konnersreuth at the crucial time. Without Naber a "case Konnersreuth" wouldn't have been possible. There is no doubt that he proceeded out of good although naive faith. He suddenly faced problems he could not fathom. Like many other theologians he also did not understand, that the events in Konnersreuth were primarily a medical problem, for which a theologian is not duly qualified. Completely enshrouded into his pseudomystical way of thinking, he was blind for reality and as an uncritical fanatic took no advice and was totally unconvincable.

Let's consider the following question: How and why did the "Konnersreuther phenomena" surface? It actually began quite harmlessly with Therese Neumann getting ill in the year 1918. The minister wanted to pastorally assist the patient, whom he often visited. That was his right, and indeed his obligation. But he should have paid attention to what the responsible physicians said and should within his framework have co-operated with them, after all the diagnosis of the physicians was quite unequivocal. But the minister did not do that, and felt himself encouraged in this behaviour from the time since the patient assured him, that the holy Theresia of Lisieux, who she admired immensely, said to her: "no physician can help you." Whatever tales Theres from now on told, he believed blindly, even if new revelations contradicted the old once.

The minister wanted to help as a pastor. He did this, by trying to lift the patient up by referring her to models of a Christian life, particularly to Christ, his life, his teachings and his suffering. Here the problem of vicarious suffering appears, which Naber, not at least by referring to models such as Anna Katharina Emmerick, the stigmatised from Dülmen, taught the female patient. The fantasy of the patients is excited lively, and excited ever more; the burning desire emerges to play a role as, a "suffering bride". She seeks to implement the dreamed of role; Minister Naber does not detect the connections and is surprised, even dismayed with that, "phenomena ", which he finds or believes to find suddenly and repeatedly with the patient. He does not realise consciously that the response form Theres Neumann is just the echo of his own suggestion. He regards them as a revelations from God. Thus it continues and what was only hysterical play at the start, develops further, from phenomenon to phenomenon; the actress can not back down; the spirits, which she called under guidance from the minister, can no longer be restrained. Naber commits the crucial error, when he turns to the public. Now the spring turns into a torrent the miracle-addicted masses gather. Who could restrain the force, if clerics of all ranks up to prelates, bishops and cardinals appear at Konnersreuth too and by their sole appearance give the impression, that the miraculous character of the alleged extraordinary phenomena is undeniable. As usual a mercantile journalism which features it prominently adds to this. The focal point of this all is Therese Neumann. She knows that and enjoys her role, and she believes finally in her role so much that she regards it as God-willed. In addition she is told often, how much she has helped by her suffering and receives news about "conversions to the Catholic faith" so she finally believes in everything herself.

In Konnersreuth the same process as at the meetings of certain sectarian groups or at places, of "miraculous appearances" is at work: conversion and healing miracles become an everyday experience. The boundary between dream and reality gets lost in the fantasy of the girl, who now became a world miracle. She invents new details of "mystical life" up to the disgusting scenes with the communion wafer, the scenes of the insoluble and the vomited communion wafer, the puke- and brandy-mysticism. Dr. Deutsch notes: "The miracle-addicted, usually themselves psychopathic inclined, are in their delusion not even repelled by these things, while the reasonable ones turn away with disgust11"

Let me state this once again: Without minister Naber a "case Konnersreuth" would never have come into existence. Auxiliary priest Heinrich Muth from Konnersreuth noted on July 4. 1942: "Minister Naber and Resl seem like one person". The two are always to be found together, in the yard of the parsonage, at the Neumann's house, in the garden of the Resl, on the road, in the church. This behaviour shows the close solidarity of the two, but also their interdependence12.

Among the five auxiliary priests, who were employed beginning with the year 1924 in Konnersreuth, there was only one who agreed completely with the minister; the others either preferred to stay silent for the sake of peace, or they got into conflict and had to leave. When Alois Weber began his service in Konnersreuth on March 8. 1924, there was only one miracle than which had happened a year before. Therese could see again after alleged four years of blindness. On May 1. 1929 thus three after the year of the stigmatisation of Therese Neumann Weber was promoted to the post as minister of Kirchenpingarten. When on March 30. 1928 the Domkapitular Dr. Reichenberger stayed in Konnersreuth, he spoke a short time with the auxiliary priest. Reichenberger relates only a few remarks of Weber concerning Therese Neumann. "Human imperfections do occur. E. g. she insults her brothers and sisters by calling them names.", Weber said. He described his behaviour in the affair in the following way: That he had little contact with Therese Neumann since 1925; it all developed into this direction because of his relation to minister Naber. He justified himself by saying, "Perhaps, if I would have voiced a different opinion about Therese than that of the minister, I would have produced a conflict; therefore I restrained myself13".

Weber's successor Liborius Haertl, auxiliary priest in Konnersreuth from August 26 1929 until January 1 1937, was a convinced follower of the stigmatised. Nevertheless he played only a minor part; minister Naber remained the person who was actually responsible. It is telling that Haertl got onto the post in Konnersreuth, because Therese Neumann had required it. From August 16 1925 on he lived in close vicinity being a chaplain in Waldsassen. Therese knew his attitude about her; therefore she demanded his transfer to Konnersreuth; the demand was expressed even, "in ecstasy". Dr. Hoecht who was vicar general at that time was strictly opposed to this, but bishop Buchberger did not listen to him14. With the two following auxiliary priests Josef Plecher and Heinrich Muth, came serious difficulties, which finally forced both to leave.

Next Chapter

Previous Chapter

Contents All Books

Back to the Indian Skeptic page.

Authors are responsible for their articles.

Last update 5.9.2003