Cardinal Marx's successor at the head of the German Bishops' Conference will be Limburg Bishop Georg Batzing. This was announced by the bishops at noon in Mainz at their spring plenary meeting. Batzing succeeds Munich's Cardinal Marx.
Bishop Georg Batzing (58) is the new president of the Catholic German Bishops' Conference. The Bishop of Limburg was elected Tuesday in Mainz to succeed Cardinal Reinhard Marx (66).
Batzing has been at the helm of the Limburg diocese since September 2016, which has about 608.000 Catholics belong. In the Bishops' Conference, he heads the sub-commission for interreligious dialogue and works in the Commission for the Universal Church.
Batzing was elected on 13. Born April 1961 in Kirchen (Sieg). He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Trier and the University of Freiburg. He was ordained a priest in Trier in 1987. From 1996 to 2010, he was the director of the seminary responsible for priestly formation in the diocese of Trier. Already in 2007 he took over the leadership of the Holy Rock pilgrimage in Trier. From November 2012, Batzing was vicar general of the diocese of Trier.
Pope Francis then appointed him on 1. July 2016 as Bishop of Limburg – succeeding Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who had hit the headlines over the cost of his €31 million episcopal residence. Batzing's episcopal motto is: "Congrega in unum – Lead together."
Defender of the Synodal Way
In internal church debates Batzing positioned himself as a reformer. He suggested a repeal of mandatory celibacy. "I don't think it harms the church if priests are free to choose whether they want to live marriage or live celibate," Batzing said in an interview. At the same time, however, it was important to "save" celibacy as a way of life. Batzing takes a critical view of the current exclusion of women from Catholic ordination offices.
Batzing massively defended the Catholic reform dialogue of the Synodal Way against critics. At the first synodal assembly in Frankfurt, he was the host bishop. Batzing was also elected as one of the chairpersons of the synodal forum "Living in Successful Relationships – Living Love in Sexuality and Partnership". Batzing has already called for sexual morality to take greater account of findings from theology and the human sciences. The question is how to "come to a new evaluation of same-sex relationships" that seek acceptance and support from the church, he said.
The bishops' conference serves to promote common tasks, provide advice and coordinate work. It sets guidelines and maintains links with other bishops' conferences. The term of office of the chairman is six years. He is not the "boss" of the other bishops, but rather a kind of spokesman. It coordinates and moderates internally and represents externally. In doing so, he is "bound by the decisions of the General Assembly".