© Grzegorz GALAZKA / SIPA
Says the cardinal “died while he was praying, looking upon the Lord and talking with Him”
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sent a message to the Archdiocese of Cologne, Germany, on July 15, on occasion of the burial of Cardinal Joachim Meisner, former shepherd of that diocese, as Vatican Insider reported on the same day.
The German pope praised the prelate—who had been a close friend—speaking of how in the last stage of his life, he had found such inner joy.
The two men had spoken on the phone the day before Cardinal Meisner’s death, which took place on July 5, the pope emeritus explained.
Benedict XVI recounted in his message that he had been “impressed” during their last phone call “by the calm serenity, interior joy, and confidence” of the cardinal.
Especially because it was “difficult,” the pope emeritus said, for the cardinal to leave his position at the head of the Archdiocese of Cologne, “at a time when the Church needs convincing shepherds who know how to resist the dictatorship of the spirit of the age.”
Cardinal Meisner retired from the archbishopric in 2014, when he was 80 years old.
The way Cardinal Meisner died, Benedict XVI continued, “showed once again how he lived: in the presence of the Lord, conversing with Him.”
The cardinal was, in fact, found with his breviary open beside him.
“He died while he was praying, looking upon the Lord and talking with Him,” the pope emeritus reflected.
A cardinal who spoke his mind
Benedict’s message was delivered by his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein, who is also the Prefect of the Pontifical Household.
The funeral was celebrated in the cathedral of Cologne by Cardinal Meisner’s successor, Cardinal Rainer Woelki. Among the dignitaries present were Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith until July 1 of this year, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich.
Joachim Meisner, who was named Bishop of Berlin in 1980, later headed the Archdiocese of Cologne for 25 years, from 1989 to 2014.
Known for speaking his mind, he was considered one of the most influential German bishops. He was one of the four cardinals who signed a letter containing doubts regarding the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (2016). XLN