Bad Füssing, Germany, Jul 5, 2017 / 05:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Joachim Meisner, archbishop emeritus of Cologne, Germany and one of four cardinals who sent the "dubia" to Pope Francis last year, passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 83. According to a press release from the Archdiocese of Cologne, the cardinal died July 5 while on vacation in Bad Füssing, Germany.
Recently, the prelate had lived in Cologne. Archbishop of Cologne from 1989-2014, he retired with the permission of Pope Francis in February 2014, at the age of 80, the same year his age made him ineligible to vote in a conclave.
Cardinal Meisner, alongside Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller and Raymond Leo Burke, submitted five "dubia," or doubts, about the interpretation of Amoris laetitia to Pope Francis on Sept. 19, 2016. The letter, made public in November, asked for clarification on Chapter 8 of the document, which touches on the reception of communion for divorced and remarried couples.
In May, the four – dubbed the "dubia cardinals" – sent a letter to the Pope requesting a private audience to discuss the content of the "dubia," since they have yet received no response. Cardinal Meisner, considered a leading conservative Catholic figure in Germany, stood in contrast to other German prelates who have propagated one of the more liberal interpretations of Chapter 8 of the post-synodal document.
Born in Breslau, Germany on December 25, 1933, Cardinal Meisner was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Erfurt-Meiningen in 1962. Later he studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, receiving his doctorate in theology in 1969. He was appointed auxiliary bishop to the Apostolic Administrator of Erfurt Meiningen in 1975, and elected a delegate to the fourth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in 1977, where he renewed a friendship with then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla. Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II one year later, and appointed Meisner Bishop of Berlin in 1980, elevating him to the position of cardinal in 1983.
In 1988 Cardinal Meisner was made Archbishop of Cologne, serving in this position until his retirement at age 80 on Feb. 28, 2014. He participated in the 2005 and 2013 papal conclaves which elected Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. He had close relationships with both Pope St. John Paul II as well as Joseph Ratzinger, now-Benedict XVI, whom he would visit at the Vatican.