Cardinal Karl Lehmann, Bishop Emeritus of Mainz, Germany, died on March 11, 2018, at 81, of a stroke. He was a leading light in the Catholic University world and greatly committed to Christian unity.
According to the biography published by the Holy See, he was born on May 16, 1936, at Sigmaringen, and studied Philosophy and Theology for many years in Rome, notably at the Gregorian University, where he wrote a thesis on the thought of Martin Heidegger and another on the Resurrection.
Ordained a priest at Rome on October 10, 1963, he was an assistant to Jesuit Karl Rahner at Munich and later at Munster. He was exempted from pastoral duties to teach and to pursue his academic researches, especially on the theme of Revelation.
Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Mainz on June 21, 1983: he took as his episcopal motto “State in Fide” “Stand Firm in Your Faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13) and remained in the diocese’s pastoral government until his renunciation on May 16, 2016. John Paul II created him Cardinal in the Consistory of February 21, 2001.
Within the Curia, Cardinal Lehmann was a member of the International Theological Commission and of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
He was also very engaged in the ecumenical dialogue, as member, scientific adviser and President of the Ecumenical Work Circle of Evangelical and Catholic Theologians (Jaeger-Stahlin-Kreis); as member of the Circle for Dialogue between the German Episcopal Conference and the Council of the Evangelical Church of Germany; and as member and President of the Latin Catholic/Evangelical-Lutheran Dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
He was President of the German Episcopal Conference from 1987 to 2008 and also President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE).
During his life, he received many awards, among them the Jewish “Abraham Geiger” Prize, and wrote numerous publications.