On this morning, March 11, 2018, Cardinal Karl Lehmann passed away after having suffered a severe stroke and cerebral hemorrhage in September 2017.
Karl Lehmann held doctorates in philosophy and theology and worked with Karl Rahner S.J. In 1968, he became professor of Dogmatic Theology in Mainz; from 1971 he was professor of Dogmatic and Ecumenical Theology in Freiburg im Breisgau.
He was bishop of Mainz from 1983 to 2016. Although he was neither archbishop nor cardinal, the German bishops’ conference elected him as president in 1987, an office he held for almost 21 years.
In 2001, Pope John Paul II created him cardinal. He took part in the conclaves in 2005 and 2013.
In 1993, he – together with bishops Oskar Saier and Walter Kasper (the latter becoming cardinal in 2001 as well) – publicly argued that the Eucharist should be permitted for divorced and remarried Catholics under certain conditions. This opinion brought him severe criticism among conservative and traditionalist circles and was refused by the Pope John Paul II., but it anticipated the development we can now observe under Pope Francis.
Karl Lehmann had a big influence on the worldwide Catholic-Lutheran dialogue. For many years, he was member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Bishops, and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He was highly respected as an erudite and humorous intellectual.
May the Lord grant him eternal joy.