Friday, February 02, 2007

Nunc Dimittis

On this feast of the Presentation, Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of his successor as archbishop of Munich and Freising, Cardinal Frederich Wetter. Indicating that the Bavarian Pope is still considering his choices for the next bearer of Corbinian's Load and the leadership of his native diocese, no successor was named to Wetter, who turns 79 later this month.

Shown here with his predecessor during the papal homecoming in Bavaria last September, the cardinal was named to replace then-Cardinal Ratzinger six months after the native son archbishop left for Rome and the top job at the CDF. He was elevated to the college of cardinals in 1985, and despite holding the metropolitan post of Germany's historical Catholic heartland, has largely taken a back seat on the public stage to Cardinals Joachim Meisner of Cologne, the country's senior churchman, and Karl Lehmann of Mainz, the president of the German episcopal conference.

If the current German leadership were given a similar stay of retirement as that granted Wetter, Benedict's pick to lead Munich and Freising's 1.3 million Catholics could well end up being the lone major personnel move he makes in his homeland. Cardinal Meisner -- a Ratzinger favorite -- turned 73 on Christmas Day, and the other two German cardinals (Lehmann and Georg Sterzinsky of Berlin) both turn 71 in the coming months.

Europe's largest nation, which hasn't received a new cardinal since the red hat was given Lehmann and the late Johannes Joachim Degenhardt of Paderborn in the 2001 mega-crop, could well end up getting two at an impending consistory (expected for June) if the pontiff decides to elevate his Bavarian successor quickly alongside Degenhardt's heir, the 58 year-old Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker.

Also in things German today, the Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Franz Kamphaus of Limburg. The circumstances for the timing are unknown, but Kamphaus is entering retirement exactly on his 75th birthday.