Notoriously Leftist German Cardinal Lehman Announces Resignation
Jan 17, 2008
Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the bishop of Mainz, has announced that he is resigning from his position as head of the Catholic Bishops' Conference in Germany, a position he has held since 1987. His resignation will take effect on Feb. 18. Lehmann will, however, continue on as bishop of Mainz.
MAINZ, Germany, January 16, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The announcement of the Cardinal's resignation comes after a year in which he has apparently suffered from ill health, having been admitted to the hospital last year for heart-related problems.
"The demands from public life and the media, the personal meetings and the letter writing keep on increasing. Recently I was overdoing it," he said in a letter to the heads of the other German dioceses.
Lehmann is widely known to be an extremely liberal figure in the Catholic Church.
Most notoriously the Cardinal butted heads with the former pope, Pope John Paul II, over the issue of counseling certificates that could be used in Germany to obtain abortions.
According to German regulations at the time, women who wanted to obtain an abortion had to first attend counseling sessions, at the end of which they would be issued a certificate, thereby enabling them to obtain an abortion. The Catholic Church had been participating in this government-sponsored counseling program, including the issuing of the certificates.
While the Church's certificates said on them that they could not be used to obtain abortions, it was widely known that German doctors were accepting them as sufficient. Pope John Paul II himself was eventually forced to order the Church in Germany to cease participating in the counseling program.
''After a fundamental consideration of all the arguments, I cannot escape the view that there is an ambiguity here that casts a shadow over the clarity and resolve of the church's witness and its counseling centers,'' a letter from the Pope in 1998 said.
''Accordingly, dear brothers, I should like to urgently request you to find ways to prevent certificates of this kind from being issued by church or church-associated counseling centers,'' the letter said.
Cardinal Lehmann, however, strongly resisted the Pope's order.
The issue came to a head in 2000, when a letter from Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger stated that "whoever continues to operate in the system of counseling centers is placed in open opposition to the Pope," and when Lehmann himself issued a veiled call for the Pope's resignation.