Karl Lehmann
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Karl Lehmann

Karl Lehmann Bishop of Mainz, Catholic Cardinal

Bishop of Mainz, Catholic Cardinal
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Bishop of Mainz, Catholic Cardinal
Countries Germany
Occupations Educator Priest
Type Academia Religion
Gender male
Birth 16 May 1936 (Sigmaringen, Sigmaringen, Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg)
Education Pontifical Gregorian University
The details

Karl Lehmann (born 16 May 1936) is a Cardinal prelate of the Catholic Church. He is Bishop emeritus of Mainz, former Chairman of the Conference of the German Bishops (German: Deutsche Bischofskonferenz), the highest representative post of the Catholic Church in Germany, and Professor emeritus of theology at the University of Mainz and the University of Freiburg.

From 1971, he was the co-editor of the international journal Communio. He was a member of the board of the Synod of the Dioceses of the Federal Republic of Germany 1971-1975, as well as a member of the International Theological Commission 1974-1984.

Appointed Prelate of honour of His Holiness on 26 March 1979.


He was educated at the Seminary of Freiburg 1957-1964 and then studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he earned a doctorate in philosophy, summa cum laude in 1962, with a thesis titled "Vom Ursprung und Sinn der Seinsfrage im Denken Martin Heideggers". He also received a doctorate in theology, summa cum laude, in 1967, with a thesis titled "'Auferweckt am dritten Tag nach der Schrift' — Exegetische und fundamentaltheologische Studien zu 1 Kor 15,3b-5".

He was ordained to the priesthood on 10 October 1963 in Rome by Cardinal Julius Döpfner. He served as an assistant to Fr. Karl Rahner, S.J., at the Institute of Christian Thought and Religious Philosophy in Munich 1964-1967 and 1967-1968. Instructor of dogmatics and history of dogma at the University of Munich in 1967. Obtained the Habilitationsstipendium of the German Research Council (DFG) in 1968. Professor of dogmatic theology, University of Mainz, 1968-1971; of dogmatic and ecumenical theology, University of Freiburg, 1971-1983. Member of the Ecumenical Working Group of Evangelical and Catholic Theologians in 1969; scientific leader, 1976; and chairman, 1988.

Declined professorships at University of Munich in 1971 and at University of Tübingen in 1981.

From 1971, co-editor of the international journal Communio. Member of the board of the Synod of the Dioceses of the Federal Republic of Germany, 1971-1975. Member of the International Theological Commission, 1974-1984.

Prelate of honour of His Holiness, 26 March 1979.


He was raised to the rank of Cardinal by Pope John Paul II at the consistory of 21 February 2001. He was one of the electors who participated in the papal conclaves of 2005 and 2013 that selected Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Lehmann was the cardinals and bishops who met annually from 1995 to 2006 in St. Gallen, Switzerland, to discuss reforms with respect to the appointment of bishops, collegiality, bishops' conferences, the primacy of the papacy and sexual morality. About a dozen in number, they differed among themselves, but shared the view that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was not the candidate they hoped to see elected at the next conclave.

Pope Francis accepted his resignation as Bishop of Mainz on 16 May 2016, his 80th birthday.

Coat of arms

Coat of arms of Karl Lehmann.svg

Cardinal Lehmann's episcopal coat of arms incorporates elements such as the wheel from the arms of the Diocese of Mainz, the key from the Diocese of Worms, and an open book with the letters Alpha and Omega, a symbol of the message of Jesus Christ, as well as for the Cardinal's personal enthusiasm for literature.

His Latin motto, State in fide (English: "Stand firmly in the faith") is derived from 1 Corinthians 16:13.



  • Monsignor Chaplain of His Holiness (26 March 1979)
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