The 60 year-old Archbishop of Munich and Freising was elected today with a slim majority at the bishops’ Spring plenary assembly in Münster. Cardinal Marx replaces retired Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, who had led the bishops’ conference since 2008.
As a member of the ‘C8’ Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis on curia reform and Church governance, the German prelate is one of Pope Francis’ key advisors. Last week, the Holy Father made him coordinator of the advisory body for the newly-created Council of the Economy, which replaces the previous prefecture for Economic and Financial Affairs at the Vatican.
As Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Marx was also president of the Freising (Bavarian) bishops’ conference. Since March 2012, he has been president of the Brussels-based commission of the bishops’ conferences of the European Union (COMECE).
Reinhard Marx was born in 1953 in Geseke, Westphalia, and studied theology and philosophy in Paderborn, Paris, Münster and Bochum. He obtained his doctorate in theology in 1989. Ordained in 1979, he was consecrated bishop in 1996. He has served as Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn and Bishop of Trier.
The last Archbishop of Munich who held the presidency of the bishops’ conference was Cardinal Julius Dopfner (1913-1976) who headed the committee from 1965 until his death in 1976.
The German bishops’ conference has been the focus of controversy lately after its members planned to allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.