A quarter of a century in purple

He is one of the best-known bishops in Germany and presides over one of the most influential archdioceses. Before Pope John Paul II. After he was appointed archbishop of Cologne, Joachim Meisner was first auxiliary bishop in Erfurt and then bishop of Berlin. this site interviewed the cardinal on the occasion of his jubilee and also spoke to his vicar general Dr. Schwaderlapp and the auxiliary bishop Weider from Berlin. In the picture gallery you find over 80 pictures of the archbishop from the past years.

Meisner was born in 1933 in Wroclaw, where he was made an honorary canon of the cathedral. His father was killed in the Second World War. After fleeing from Silesia, his mother and four sons lived since 1945 in Korner near Muhlhausen in Thuringia. After a bank apprenticeship and the Abitur in Magdeburg Meisner studied from 1956 philosophy and theology in Erfurt. In 1962 he was ordained priest and became auxiliary bishop in 1975. In 1980 followed the appointment as bishop of Berlin, three years later the elevation to cardinal. In 1989 Meisner succeeded Cardinal Joseph Hoffner as Archbishop of Cologne. Since his time as auxiliary bishop of Erfurt, he has worked intensively for reconciliation with Poles, Czechs and Slovaks. The cardinal continues this commitment in a leading position in the Eastern European aid organization of German Catholics "Renovabis.

Member of the Episcopal Congregati At the level of the universal church, the cardinal has been a member of the Congregation for Bishops since 1995, which advises the pope on the appointment of bishops in all continents. He is a member of the Vatican Congregations for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and for the Clergy. He was also appointed to the Pontifical Councils for Culture and Interreligious Dialogue, for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, to the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, and to the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Vatican Organizational and Economic Ies. Honors Cardinal Meisner received an honorary doctorate from the University of Wroclaw in 1996 and from the Catholic University of Lublin in 2005. He is an honorary citizen of Trzebnica (dt. Trebnitz, Poland) and Levoca (dt. Leutschau, Slovakia). In 1998, Meisner received the Order of the White Lion III. In 2003, he received the Grand Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany with star and shoulder ribbon.

The Cologne years Cardinal Joachim Meisner confesses that his eyes "went black" when he received the Pope's call to move from the Spree to the Rhine in 1988. Several times he had asked the Holy Father to refrain from his appointment to Cologne. But when the pope stuck to his decision, he followed it "without hesitation," says Meisner, who celebrates his cardinalate anniversary on Sunday. From his point of view, the "must-marry" between shepherd and flock then surprisingly quickly became a love marriage.After Silesia, where his cradle was, Thuringia, where he served the church from chaplain to auxiliary bishop, Berlin, where he fought in the divided city with an anti-clerical regime for the living space of the small flock and was given the cardinal's track for it, Cologne had now become his fourth "real home". That Cardinal Meisner followed the Pope's call could not surprise anyone who knows him. Unconditional loyalty to the successor of Peter is for him a proof of the episcopal office. That there are strong affinities between the two personalities, whose birthplaces – Wadowice and Wroclaw – are not so far apart, is evident in many ways. In questions of doctrine and the understanding of the Church as well as its hierarchical order, the two resemble each other just as much as in their basic attitude of preservation, their pronounced devotion to Mary and their approach to people. And so Meisner does not hesitate to answer the question about his role model: "Pope John Paul II"."In the years of his ministry as archbishop of Cologne, Meisner has given his image of church and ministry clear contours. He, who in East and West, albeit under completely different circumstances, never experienced the church as anything other than "the wind blowing in its face," therefore sees resistance as the way of the church rather than the streamlined approach. In matters of celibacy, reservation of the priesthood for men and church sexual morals, he remains firm. Even if criticism comes from his own ranks and with theological argumentation, this does not make him waver: "Theological quibbles have never led anyone to faith and thus to salvation," he is convinced. On the contrary: "The closer you get to God, the easier it is to say it."He says it in a language without intellectual filigree, as one was used to from his predecessor Joseph Hoffner, the professor on the bishop's chair. Meisner speaks simply, often in pictures. In this, he resembles his popular predecessor Josef Frings, even if he never reached his popular status. He reproaches those who call him a fundamentalist with disarming frankness: "Basically, one should be proud of thinking fundamentally."Compromises are therefore anathema to him, even on the outside: when it comes to faith, fundamental rights and values, and Catholic morals and customs, Meisner is uncompromising.For him, the Christian message and the "wisdom of the world" rarely coincide, and making this clear time and again has made him one of the most distinctive churchmen in Germany. In the universal church he is anyway. Of course, his judgment is especially sought after when it comes to the conditions in the former Eastern Bloc. Already as bishop of Berlin he had made special efforts for reconciliation with Poles, Czechs and Slovaks. In Rome he is in demand as a close advisor to the Pope – as a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, the Congregation for the Clergy and the Pontifical Councils. In the advocacy of Christ's kingdom in Cologne, Germany and the world, he is in the forefront. Even though the wind may be blowing in the face of the church more and more often. For him, who knows God is on his side, there is no such thing as discouragement: "Our hope for you stands firm," is, after all, his episcopal motto.

Highlight: World Youth Day and German Pope Meisner has acknowledged the World Youth Day in August 2005 as the biggest event in the history of the Archdiocese of Cologne. Despite all the prophets of doom in and outside the church, a young church with an inner vitality had shown itself in Cologne, transforming the hearts of many people, he said. The meeting, he said, was marked by a youth "who could kneel down again to worship the Lord". A deep joy of faith has grown out of this, says Meisner.In view of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. the cardinal spoke of a "grace of God" for the church and especially also for the archdiocese of Cologne. He recalled that Joseph Ratzinger had taught at the University of Bonn and had advised Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne at the Second Vatican Council.

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