“Confident and always visionary”

Hans Langendorfer © Julia Steinbrecht (KNA)

After almost 25 years in the office of Secretary of the German Bishops' Conference, Hans Langendorfer has retired. A successor will be elected in the spring at the plenary assembly of the German bishops

After almost 25 years in the office of Secretary of the German Bishops' Conference, Hans Langendorfer has retired. The conference chairman, Bishop Georg Batzing, thanked Father Langendorfer on Wednesday for his tireless and sacrificial service. In a letter that Batzing personally delivered in Bonn, he praised Langendorfer's work as "trusting, committed, politically ambitious and always visionary".

Langendorfer was first elected to the post in 1996 and served as secretary under presidents Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, Cardinal Reinhard Marx and Bishop Georg Batzing.

Almost a quarter of a century

The German Bishops' Conference is grateful to him for having filled the office of secretary with commitment over all these years, Batzing said. "It has been almost a quarter of a century of extremely difficult and stressful times, but also of many good developments and experiences."

Early on, he said, Langendorfer had been distressed by the debate on the withdrawal of counseling for pregnant women, and throughout the years the revelations and abysses on the subject of sexual abuse had been an abiding theme. Most recently, the outgoing secretary had provided impetus in the reform debate that had begun in the Catholic Church in Germany, the Synodal Way.

Highs and lows

"The 2011 papal visit bears your signature and is one of the events that still touches you personally today. There have been ups and downs in your term of office, which you have always borne with trust in God and an inner serenity," Bishop Batzing said, at the same time thanking Langendorfer for his theological expertise.

In addition to his theological knowledge, Langendorfer also has the economic and legal skills that he used as managing director of the Association of German Dioceses (VDD). "All these questions are not provided for in Jesuit training or the study of theology, and it is worthy of all honor to emphasize how much you have immersed yourself in the details, always from the perspective of the good of the people."Langendorfer has been a reliable partner and contact person for everyone, nationally and internationally.

Not only secretary, but also priest

In his letter, Bishop Batzing particularly emphasized Langendorfer's priestly service. "Not infrequently you have had to emphasize that you are first of all a priest and then secretary. Your Mass celebrations, including for the ministry community in the Secretariat, are credible testimony to that fact."

His work will not be forgotten. 'It will fit in with the new that is coming'. For me, 24 years means saying sincere thanks to you for your foresight and prudence, the attention to detail and the visionary power of a joyful church that serves the people, which you have realized," said Bishop Batzing of Limburg.

Successor to be chosen in spring

A successor is to be elected at the upcoming spring plenary meeting of the bishops. Until then, the task will be taken over for the time being by the secretariat area leader for the universal church and migration, Ulrich Poner, as acting secretary. For the time being, the VDD managing director post will be filled by the current deputy Matthias Meyer as acting managing director.

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