Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bishops seek successor to Cardinal Lehmann

Cathcon translation of Bischöfe suchen Nachfolger für Kardinal Lehmann
Bonn. After the announced resignation of Karl Cardinal Lehmann as the head of the German Bishops' Conference the discussion about the succession has already begun.

The Vice-Chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference, the Aachen Bishop Heinrich "God is not Catholic" Mussinghoff (67), has already ruled himself out as a candidate for the post of Chairman, a Diocesan spokesman said on Tuesday (Cathcon- that's a relief then!). The Bishops' Conference had earlier on Tuesday announced the premature resignation of Lehmann after some 20 years of office. The 71-year-old declared that he would retire on 18 February, for health reasons, and but also for a necessary generational change to take place. The successor will be elected in February.

Lehmann's longstanding efforts and, in particular, his commitment to social dialogue and the coexistence of religions have been appreciated positively by all sides. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) regretted the resignation. "Cardinal Lehmann enjoys a high reputation far beyond the borders of the Catholic Church," Merkel said after a telephone conversation with Lehmann. Federal Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) said with his going an era is coming to an end. The Rhineland-Palatinate Prime Minister and SPD chairman, Kurt Beck said Lehmann represented the Catholic Church nationally and internationally in an outstanding manner.

The fourth six-year term of office of Lehmann would have expired in 2011. He will still lead the Spring Plenary Assembly of the Bishops' Conference from 11 To 14 February in Wuerzburg. They will also choose the new Chairman. Lehmann will continue to exercise his office as Bishop of Mainz, wanting in the future to devote himself more strongly to basic issues such as ecumenism.

He had at the end of last year, a "life-threatening disease", Lehmann wrote in a letter to the bishops. With the heart-rhythm disturbance, he had reached "a clear break" where "in the future his strength no longer allows him this often absolute exhaustion". Lehmann also pointed to increasing time pressure: "The demands of the public or the media, personal interviews and written correspondence always become bigger." That's why he is now doing as already he had indicated as an option in September 2005 during his re-election, not to fully serve the term as chief representative of 26 million German Catholics.

On behalf of the German Bishops, Mussinghoff thanked Lehmann for his "tireless efforts". The Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who is a conservative counterpoint in the bishops' conference to Lehmann said that he had succeeded in the midst of great upheaval, to remain in discussion with the social partners (Cathcon comment- a German idea of the corporate state!) . The President of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), Prof. Hans Joachim Meyer, praised Lehmann "principled strength, his sense of reality and his willingness to listen."

The Chairman of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD), Bishop Wolfgang Huber, pointed to Lehmann’s advocacy of ecumenism. The President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Charlotte Knobloch, said that over the years of trusting cooperation deep human bonds were created, "which also in politically difficult times have proved viable and resilient."

Lehmann was elected in September 1987 in Fulda as successor to Cardinal Joseph Höffner (Cologne), Chairman of the Bishops' Conference. The qualified theologian was reelected in 1993, 1999 and 2005. Lehmann, became Bishop of Mainz in 1983 and January 2001 appointed Cardinal by Pope John Paul II.

As a possible successor, the newly appointed Archbishop of Munich Reinhard Marx (54) is under discussion.. His election would be a generational change. But church experts hold a transitional solution with an even older Bishop with only one term of six years as conceivable. From the perspective of the reform movement, 'We Are Church " a chairman of the Bishops' Conference should not polarise opinion as Cologne's Cardinal Joachim Meisner (74), or the Augsburg Bishop Walter Mixa (66) would. In the discussion in religious circles about the succession debate the names of the Freiburg archbishop, Robert Zollitsch (69), and the Archbishop of Hamburg, Werner Thissen (69), are heard.

Mussinghoff assumes that the entire team will be newly elected in Wuerzburg, said the diocese spokesman. These included: the Chairman and his deputies as well as the secretary of the Bishops' Conference.

Three Volume Divine Office Latin/English

Second set for sale- support Cathcon

Always new items on eBay

Mission impossible?

Cathcon translation of an extract from Kommentar: Katholischer Lotse mit einer letzten Mission- Catholic Pilot on Last Mission.

"Now health problems have forced force him to give up his official duty as Chairman of the distinguished Catholic Bishops' Conference. It is hoped that he will have a strong influence on the election of the new man at the head of the German Church hierarchy. There is a great danger that the very conservative forces will win the upper hand, who think themselves safe in the shadow of the incumbent German pope."

From a business magazine- business interests clearly feels themselves endangered by real Catholicism.
Cathcon thinks that Cardinal Lehmann has more style than the former Bishop of Linz who instead of returning to his monastery, stayed on site- many decisions still have to be checked out with him. Cardinal Lehmann won't interfere. No good would come of it.

The Voice of German Catholicism


Cathcon translation of
Die Stimme des deutschen Katholizismus -

Actually he wanted "only" to be a Father: Cardinal Karl Lehmann. But the 71-year-old has dominated the face of the Catholic Church in Germany like no other. His withdrawal places his church in a difficult situation. And there is not a "natural" successor.

For 21 years, Cardinal Lehmann was President of the German Bishops' Conference,

This is a turning point, an end of an era. Cardinal Karl Lehmann (71), the face of the Catholic Church in Germany for nearly a quarter century dominated like no other: he was for almost 21 years Chairman of the Bishops' Conference, previously two years as a deputy, a presence on all TV channels and political podiums. His great predecessor, Joseph Höffner and Julius Döpfner were twelve or eleven years in office. Lehmann has set a record. Four times he was reelected. For the final time, after intense internal debate in 2005. Now he says that it was "time for a changing of the guards", whilst a life-threatening disease matured the decision and on 18 February, after the Spring Plenary Assembly of the Episcopacy he will resign. Bishop of Mainz, he will stay.

The timing of his departure makes "good sense", said the Cardinal. In fact, several important episcopal appointments have recently been made and there is a new generation of Chief Pastors. Nevertheless, Lehmann’s resignation puts his Church in a difficult situation. There is no "natural" successor. His deputy, Henry “God is not Catholic (Cathcon insertion of real live quote!) ” Mussinghoff (Aachen) has scarcely any chance. And the speculation on the church stock exchange for the period after Lehmann is rife that the newly appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising must come to terms with the not uncomplicated Bavarian conditions.

Cardinal Lehmann, on his own account, has often overestimated his strength, and not paid attention to his health. Equipped with almost encyclopedic learning, he has been always timely in response to the contemporary scene and always willing to become involved, as he was always suspicious of a vestry-Christianity. He has gone from being born in 1936 to a teacher in the Swabian Sigmaringen to become a top interlocutor on politics, economy, science and culture. He worked on his lectures deep into the night. Although there are 27 diocesan bishops and 44 suffragans in Germany, the former Professor of Dogmatics was always the first port of call for organisers of meetings and conventions. Lehmann, a former assistant to the great Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner, obtained his doctorate in 1962 with a thesis on Martin Heidegger and is considered to be "liberal". He himself accepted this assessment with only a caveat: if the "liberal" refers to preparedness to dialogue, to discourse and discussion that "does not mean a lack of a standpoint." After all his motto reads: "Stand firmly in the Faith." (Cathcon- some might find this rather an ironic motto, especially if they remember his TV performance when he went wobbly on the reality of the afterlife)

Conflict with the Pope on pregnancy problems counseling

For 15 years, Lehmann taught dogmatics in Mainz and Freiburg, the "best time of my life". In 1983, he, was made at 47 years old, Bishop of Mainz. Two years later, he served as Vice Chairman to Cardinal Höffner in the Bishops' Conference. Then in a 1987 church sensation: Not Cardinal Friedrich Wetter (Munich), but the Chief Pastor of Mainz will be Höffner’s successor. Rome is not amused. In 1988, the new President was a negotiator in the turmoil about the appointment desired by the Pope of Cardinal Joachim Meisner as Archbishop of Cologne. And again a year later, the Berlin Wall has fallen, the Berlin bishop's Conference has to be integrated into the German Bishops’ Conference. In the 1990s, all his strengths are bound into the dispute over the legally required advice to pregnant women.

Lehmann fought against the Catholic "opt-out", but like his brothers, has to bow to the power of word of the Pope. That leaves wounds, which are still not healed. Only in 2001, and also in the second round, did the Bishop’s Conference chairman obtain Cardinal's status. When he received the insignia of his new dignity, Lehmann is so honoured that even the German Protestant Church president, Manfred Kock travelled to Rome. An ecumenical sign. Kock’s presence shows, "what really is," said the new Cardinal and passionate ecumenists acknowledging this gesture. And as Pope John Paul II handed over to Cardinal Lehmann the ring, the audience of the ceremony heard what the aged pontiff said to the Lehmann, kneeling before him: "Yes, Mainz, good, good, good." (Cathcon from memory, other versions say that the Pope had to be reminded who he was!).

Lehmann is a "Roman"

Karl Lehmann - at a distance to Rome? There are some among traditionalists who even today suppose an anti-Roman sensibility. It allows the Cardinal to point out that he received that his religious formation especially in Rome. He received two doctorates from the Pontifical University "the Gregorian". Lehmann is a " Roman". But one who, despite his veneration of the "Roman School" of the Jesuits has retained an independent view. It was, he admits, always liberating for him and a great benefit not only during the study, but of how to understand with St. Ignatius, "that the love of the Church and loyalty to the Pope, includes and does not exclude criticism of the reality which needs reform". All obedience and all the criticism can only have meaning, when the unadorned Gospel is given its space, and while it can be damaged, it allows again the purity of the church to be made visible.

With his renunciation of the presidency of the German Bishops' Conference the Cardinal, as he says, "wishes to step back." But he will continue to speak out of Mainz. He remains a member of important Roman bodies, and he has already indicated to what issues he will continue to devote passion: the difficult situation of ecumenism. Actually, he likes to tell his inner circle of friends that, yes, he had "only" wanted to be a priest. Lehmann has become more, an internationally known theologian and Cardinal and thanks to the media presence, the respected voice of German Catholicism.

German Bishops resist Latin Mass

Cathcon translation of a depressing article from the magnificent – Zelebrationsfunktionäre -Celebration functionaries

In Germany, the Church is dying. The priests are aged, the Churches are empty and vocations rare. There are traditional believers. But in this kind of resurrection, the authorities are not interested. The old Mass attracts people back into the church. How the bishops of the German dioceses, Görlitz and Hildesheim undermined the Motu proprio.

This is shown in an article in the December issue of the monthly "IK Nachrichten," which is close to the associations of the Faithful, Initiative Groups and Pro Ecclesia Sancta.

Not celebration funktionaries

The Bishop of Goerlitz, Mons. Konrad Zdarsa, granted an interview to applicants from his Diocese, who had asked for an old Mass.

Then he fed them with generalities. They may be against liturgical abuses, but they must have patience and endure suffering. There is a priest shortage.

The offer of priests from the Ecclesia Dei communities, the bishop refused categorically. He wanted - his exact formulation - no "celebration functionaries".

Lies or negligence?

A large group of traditionalists suffered the same fate in Brunswick. The city is located sixty miles east of Hanover and belongs to the Diocese of Hildesheim.

The Hildesheim Vicar General, Werner Schreer (seen here with a group of teachers) said to the traditionalists that there were currently no suitable priests. (Cathcon comment- well he can learn himself!)

One such should meet the conditions of the Motu proprio and its implementing provisions: "This standard is currently not met in the Diocese of Hildesheim " - claimed the Vicar General.

On the other hand, the 'IK Nachrichten' knows of priests in the region who have agreed to celebrate the old Mass.

The 'IK Nachrichten' gives no names in order to protect them from reprisals in their dioceses.

Disobedience to the Pope

A second group of applicants in the Diocese of Hildesheim were met with an ice-cold attitude.

In Duderstadt in the district of Goettingen eighty believers asked their Provost for a Sunday Mass in the Old Rite. First of all, no response came.

The requests of the Faithful were met with prevarication.

A written request of eighty faithful to Bishop Norbert Trelle was then turned down by the Vicar General Schreer.

The reason he gave according to 'IK-Nachrichten' was generally related to the implementation of provisions of the German Bishops Conference of the Motu proprio.

Those who seek the Mass have in the meantime asked the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei for help.

What is a modernist?

Cathcon suggests two answers

Those who want to fight yesterday's battle tomorrow. See John Allen's report on modernist reactions to the Pope in The Pope, modern science, and a canary in the coal mine

Those who have a soft spot for Judas.

Anyone else got ideas?

Cardinal Lehmann resigns as Chairman of German Catholic Bishops Conference


Cathcon translation of – Kardinal Lehmann tritt zurück. Cathcon comments below translation.

The Bishop of Mainz will today cease from his duties as chairman of the German Bishops' Conference. He had in recent past health problems.
The chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Karl Lehmann, is expected to resign this afternoon from the chairmanship of the German Bishops' Conference.

Vatican Radio reported this in a newsflash. The news was made known from church circles. He want to retain his office as Bishop of Mainz.

In recent years, he has fought with health problems.

In mid-December he was in hospital with cardiac arrhythmia.

Then, he went for several weeks on a rest cure. Cardinal Lehmann did not celebrate either the Christmas or the New Year Mass.

Chairman since 1987

From 1985, Cardinal Lehmann was vice chairman of the German Bishops' Conference.

On 22 September 1987, he was elected as the Bishops' Conference chairman.

In the years 1993, 1999 and 2005 respectively, he was for a further six years in that office confirmed.

The last election took place at the Plenary Assembly of Bishops on 20 September 2005 in Fulda.

Longest tenure

On 2 January, Cardinal Lehmann celebrated the longest tenure a chairman of the German Bishops' Conference since the Second World War.

Cardinal Lehmann was 7,407 days in office.

The longest term of office until then, was the former archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joseph Frings, with 7,406 days (Cathcon note Joseph Ratzinger was the theological advisor to Cardinal Frings at the Council, Karl Lehmann being the principal researcher for Karl Rahner SJ.)

Cathcon comments
One cannot underestimate the sheer survival power and dominance of Karl Lehmann on post-conciliar German Catholic life. He has put the philosophy of Karl Rahner into practice with disastrous results for the German Catholic Church. Although the decline started well before World War II, his policies are far removed from being a successful cure.

It leaves his fellow German Cardinal Kasper dangerously exposed in Rome and less able to nuance the teaching of the Church, such as, for instance, his response to the recent document on the nature of the Church. Cardinal Lehmann was always a reliable echo of his views, at very least. Now when Kasper speaks, no echo will be heard which restricts his ability as an ecumenical adventurer.

Cardinal Lehmann's health problems did not prevent him from dancing with the devil and some chorus girls at Carnival just a couple of years ago.

The most likely candidate to succeed is the new Archbishop of Munich, a conservative sadly also an opponent of the Latin Mass.

The identity of the successor will be a demonstation of the degree to which the Pope is setting the agenda in his own country and in the longer term, whether this new agenda will restore the German Catholic Church to a House Full of Glory, to quote the title of well-known German hymn.

Really Cryptic


Advertising for the Bishop of Linz's pep talks for the youth that take place in the Crypt (geddit- Cryptic).

Cryptic- the Diocese of Linz wrapping the glories of the Catholic Faith, in an enigma, in a puzzle and a maze. Ok, St Paul tells us of the mysteries of the Faith but he did not hide them behind clouds.

Motu proprio is ecumenical


Cathcon translation of – Motu Proprio ist ökumenisch

Russia. The Pope is a mediator between centuries-old tradition and the needs of modern times. The Patriarch of Moscow and throughout Russia, Alexeij II, explained this in an interview with the monthly magazine Giorni'30 '. The Patriarch sees the Motu proprio as one of the most fundamental aspects of the work of Benedict XVI.

What a waste of time and energy!


Why work around the world for Christian unity, when all you have to do is to hop on a plane to Rome.