Rorate Caeli

A Rare Moment of Clarity from Cardinal Lehmann

Cardinal Lehmann

H.E. Karl Cardinal Lehmann, who went to his eternal reward on March 11, was one of the most influential German prelates of the past few decades. A former assistant to Karl Rahner, Lehmann’s interpretation of the “spirit” of Vatican II was largely implemented in Germany. As president of the German Bishops’ Conference from 1987–2008, Lehmann accelerated the pace of the development of the German Church towards ever greater conformity to the spirit of the age. From a traditionalist point of view, his attempts at reconciling the German Church to the modern world were an unequivocal disaster, and a betrayal of his sacred duty as a successor of the Apostles. Remarkably, Lehmann’s last will and testament, written in 2009, but not published till after his death last month, can almost be read as admitting as much. Lehmann writes:

In the period after 1945, we, all of of us, even in the Church, dug our hands into this world, buried our selves in the immanent realm. This applies to me as well. I ask God and man for forgiveness. The renewal must come from deep faith, hope, and love. Therefore, I call to everyone in the words of my motto, which come from St. Paul, and which have become ever more important to me: Stand fast in the faith! (Source: Allgemeine Zeitung; translation Rorate Cæli).

A more succinct expression of the problem of post-war (and especially post-conciliar) German Catholicism, with its practical abandonment of the primacy of the spiritual could hardly be made.