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Robert Zollitsch

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Robert Zollitsch

His Excellency
Robert Zollitsch
Archbishop Emeritus of Freiburg im Breisgau
Archdiocese Freiburg im Breisgau
Province Freiburg im Breisgau
Appointed 16 June 2003
Installed 20 July 2003
Term ended 17 September 2013
Predecessor Oskar Saier
Ordination 27 May 1965
by Hermann Josef Schäufele
Consecration 20 July 2003
by Oskar Saier
Personal details
Born (1938-08-09) 9 August 1938
Philipsdorf, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Denomination Roman Catholic
Motto in fidei communione
Coat of arms }
Robert Zollitsch (2006)
Styles of
Robert Zollitsch
Reference style The Most Reverend
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Monsignor
Posthumous style not applicable

Robert Zollitsch (born 9 August 1938) is a German prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He was Archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau from 2003 to 2013 and was Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference from 2008 to 2014.

Life and work

Zollitsch was born in Philipsdorf/Filipovo, Yugoslavia (modern-day Serbia), to an ethnic German family of Danube Swabians who moved to Tauberbischofsheim in 1946 after being violently expelled from communist Yugoslavia following World War II. His 16-year-old brother was killed in 1945, after the end of the war, during summary execution massacres by Yugoslav partisans of Josip Broz Tito. Robert Zollitsch, after being educated in several schools, became a member of the Schoenstatt Institute of Diocesan Priests in 1964, and was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Hermann Schäufele on 27 May 1965, in the Cathedral of Freiburg im Breisgau

Zollitsch was elected to the general council of the Schoenstatt Institute in both 1974 and 1980. In 1983, he was named archdiocesan personnel manager for Freiburg im Breisgau. He became a member of the cathedral chapter in 1984 as well.

On 16 June 2003, Zollitsch was appointed Archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau by Pope John Paul II. He received his episcopal consecration on the following 20 July from Archbishop Oskar Saier, with Cardinal Karl Lehmann and Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo serving as co-consecrators. As Archbishop, he leads the second-largest diocese in Germany.

Zollitsch was later elected to succeed Cardinal Lehmann as the Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference, and thus spokesman for the German Church, on 12 February 2008. His election was welcomed by many German figures and groups, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, Lutherans, Social Democrats, and Christian Democrats.[1]

The Archbishop formerly sat on the Permanent Council and the Commission for Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Laity within the same episcopal conference.

Views and positions

Zollitsch is considered to be a liberal in his convictions, and has described himself as being "theologically and personally" close to Cardinal Lehmann.[1]

Zollitsch accepts civil unions by states but is against the term "gay marriage",[2] he favours women becoming Deacons.[3] In 2009, he said in a statement he was working towards damage control in the wake of the controversy over negationist comments made by SSPX bishop Richard Williamson.[4]

In an interview with a German television station, he answered a question about the sacrificial nature of Christ's death in the negative, preferring the expression “Christ has solidarised himself with the people unto his very end”. This appears in a way as a contradiction of Christian teaching.[5] The statement however was rather an exaggerated trial to rebuke the misconception of God having needed such a sacrifice, and a way of expounding in what language he would preach about this topic. This led to a warning against falling into formal heresy by Franz Schmidberger, district superior of the non-canoncic SSPX. In a later circular over the diocesan homepage, he did acknowledge that the Church does, and does legitimately, "even" attribute the Redemption to Christ's Death.[6]

Zollitsch does not appear to accept the concept of simplicity of life. When asked if he would give up his 7-series BMW, valued at $81,000, to follow the call of Pope Francis to the clergy to embrace simplicity of life, Zollitsch said in a 2013 interview, "To me that car is not a status symbol; it is the office I use when I am traveling," The lifestyle of German bishops is underwritten by the state, funded by income tax imposed on all Germans.[7]

2010 meeting with Pope Benedict

Archbishop Zollitsch as head of the German Bishops' Conference, met with the Pope Benedict on Friday 12 March 2010 to further discuss the widening sexual abuse scandal in Germany since January, when former students at Berlin's élite Jesuit high school, Canisius College, went public with accusations against two former priests.[8]

Similar allegations then emerged at other Catholic schools and institutions in Germany, including a Benedictine monastery and several boarding schools. German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger condemned the "wall of silence" within the Catholic hierarchy, accusing the church of hiding behind a 2001 Vatican directive that called for cases of abuse to be investigated internally before going to state authorities. "This directive makes clear that even serious abuse allegations fall under papal confidentiality and thus should not be forwarded on outside the church," she said.[9] In this she was misinforming, since the papal confidentiality only applies to matters of the seal of the confessional. That the Church did not then - this policy has changed - forward allegations to the public investigators was not due to that decree, but for leaving the matter to the victims; German public law does not demand the crimes in question to be reported.


  1. ^ a b Earth Times. German Catholic bishops elect new leader 12 February 2008
  2. ^ Es wäre eine Revolution
  3. ^ Women Catholic deacons 'no longer taboo'
  4. ^ Jewish backlash against Vatican gathers pace
  5. ^ "Christ did not die for the sins of the people": Head of German Catholic Bishops' Conference on TV
  6. ^ It might be mentioned that in the German scene, incited about Bp Williamson's Holocaust denial, the public would not have understood any humbling to SSPX leaders against whose insubordination he fought in the meantime.
  7. ^ [1] Bishop's suspension a symptom of German Catholic church's wealth
  8. ^ Press Office of the Holy See
  9. ^ German Clergy Scandal Reaches the Pope's Family

External links

  • Catholic-Hierarchy
  • Deutsche Welle - "German Catholic Church Begins New Era With Unexpected Chief"
  • Schoenstatt Movement
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Oskar Saier
Archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau
Succeeded by
Stephan Burger
Preceded by
Karl Lehmann
Chairman of the German Episcopal Conference
Succeeded by
Reinhard Marx
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