Saturday, May 14, 2011

Big birthday party for Cardinal Lehmann in Mainz

Kardinal Karl Lehmann: Nicht immer ein Mann des Papstes | Echo Online - Nachrichten aus Südhessen

Catholic Church: The Mainz Cardinal Karl Lehmann is seventy five years old - the Diocese will celebrate in style on 22 May

Certainly, Karl Lehmann would know how to use his time differently. The Cardinal would have liked to dedicate his remaining years to theological studies. But the Pope decided otherwise.The Bishop of Mainz who next Monday will be seventy five years old, is required to remain in office. One consolation for Lehmann: The great Diocesan birthday party on 22 May in Mainz Cathedral will not now be a farewell party.

Lehmann, who was for over twenty years Chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, has dominated the Catholic Church in Germany in recent decades. His warm manner, treating others as equals, his openness to change and his courage in the repeated struggles with the Vatican to discover the limits of possible reforms have brought him high esteem with many in Catholic circles.

In Rome, however, the bishop of Mainz, who was appointed in 1983, with his moderate liberal, dialogue-oriented ways, has not made friends."Purple makes him uncomfortable," wrote a German newspaper, as Pope John Paul II made Lehmann a Cardinal quite late in the day in 2001.

Whether it was about the ecumenism close to Lehmann’s heart - the association with Protestant Christians - advising pregnant women, the prohibition of contraceptives or the exclusion of divorced and remarried Catholics from the sacraments - Lehmann has not always prevailed.

Originally from Sigmaringen in Baden-Wuerttemberg, the theologian, initially prior to his appointment as bishop, was a full professor dogmatics and ecumenical theology in Mainz, and then later in Freiburg. He is marked by the optimism of the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965). The decisions of the meeting convened by Pope John XXIII opened the Catholic Church to modernity.

Central were the cautious steps towards recognition of other religions and liturgical reform. From that time on, it became common for church services to be no longer in Latin, but to be celebrated in the respective national language, and the priest no longer turned his back on the faithful at the Mass , but he faced them. Lehmann witnessed at first hand the council as a consultant at the side of reforming theologian Karl Rahner.

Lehmann's reform hopes have not always met, but he has not given up the readiness to compromise and to balance over the years. "I'm not a guy who throws in the towel quickly," the bishop once said almost 20 years ago. That has not changed, although Lehmann must now preserve his powers. At seventy-five he is finally no longer a young man.

Cathcon- an interview will appear tomorrow about his relationship with Roman authority.

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