From Graz to Meitingen

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Apart from actively working in the peace movement, Metzger remained loyal to charitable social work especially for alcoholics. In September of 1919, he founded the “Mission Society of the White Cross”, called the “Christ the King Institute” since 1927.

In this Mission Society, Metzger named himself Brother Paul. Making reference to early Christianity, he aspired to a fundamental reform of life. To him, “early Christianity” meant selflessness, community, brotherliness and aid for all people regardless of religion, nationality or race. Metzger’s model of an “economic community” included anti-Semitic tones, however (Wirtschaftsring).

The staff of the “White Cross” formed a community resembling an order based on the “Evangelical counsels”. In 1920, the circle consisted of sixteen sisters and three brothers. Metzger was unable to obtain episcopal recognition because clergy and the local press raised suspicions about his political, welfare and social activities and his efforts to reform the church.

Moreover, Metzger’s financial conduct also attracted mistrust. Continually developing new publications, Metzger must have been affected deeply when his periodicals were under preliminary ecclesiastical censorship. In the mid-1920s, the dioceses of Freiburg and Graz attested to his considerable theological, ministry and evangelizing skills, but also his egoism, sense of mission and aversion to advice.

When, under these circumstances, Metzger was supposed to leave Graz– the diocesan bishop had requested Metzger’s recall to Freiburg in May of 1924 – he appears to have considered an academic career. He refrained from a Habilitation degree in Freiburg however after he became aware of derogatory remarks made by a professor there.

Despite having his reduced political activism, Metzger was in fact ordered to Freiburg in 1926: He was able to postpone the date until June 1, 1927. He was unable to obtain permission to take his evangelization work with him to Freiburg and work together with the Caritas. He relocated to Meitingen near Augsburg instead and took over St. John’s Home for alcoholics with the “Society of Christ the King”.

Source / title

  • Max Josef Metzger: Weißkreuz Katechismus. Praktischer Wegweiser in Fragen über das Wesen und die Arbeiten des Weissen Kreuzes. Graz 1925, S. 1