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Döpfner, Julius


Cardinal; b. Hausen, Germany, Aug. 26, 1913; d. Munich, July 25, 1976. After courses in philosophy and theology in Rome, Döpfner was ordained to the priesthood there Oct. 29, 1939, for the Diocese of Würzburg. Two years later, he received a doctorate in theology at the Gregorian University, and was assigned to Schweinfurt, where he was chaplain to thousands of displaced person's from East Germany. During the postwar years, while on the staff of the diocesan seminary, he promoted cooperative housing for the numerous war refugees. Named bishop of Würzburg by pius xii, he was ordained in the local cathedral, Oct. 14, 1948. He was transferred to the Diocese of Berlin on Jan. 17, 1957, where he labored to achieve a sense of unity between the Catholics of West and East Berlin, and was renowned as a rebuilder of the churches destroyed during the war.

Created a cardinal by john xxiii on Dec. 15, 1958, he was then named Archbishop of Munich and Freising. Here, as a leading figure of the German hierarchy, Döpfner had a significant role in the preparations for vatican council ii. In June of 1960, for example, he chaired the gathering of German bishops on preparations for the Council. Thereafter, he was named a member of the Central Preparatory Commission and, at the same time, to the Committee on Technical Arrangements. During the first session he became a member of the Secretariat for Extraordinary Matters and was also appointed to the Commission for Coordination. For the succeeding sessions, with cardinals agagianian, Lercaro, and suenens, he was named by the Holy Father to the key post of Moderator of the Council.

Döpfner's is probably most important for his influence on the framing of Lumen gentium, especially because of his insistence on the need to go beyond a legalistic concept of the Church and to stress the Church as mystery. Sanctity, he pointed out, is bestowed on man through the mediation of Christ and of the Church, insofar as it is the primordial Sacrament of Christ. Later he was involved with a number of other cardinals in the delicate issues of religious freedom and the Church's relationship with Judaism.

Between the sessions of the Council, Döpfner organized and conducted numerous episcopal gatherings, notably the meeting of the European bishops at Fulda in August of 1963. When the Council ended, he continued to be associated with its programs. In 1963 he was named to the Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law and became a familiar figure at the meetings of the Synod of Bishops.

Bibliography: h. fesquet, The Drama of Vatican II, tr. b. murchland (New York 1967). L'Osservatore Romano English edition 31 (435) July 29, 1976, 8; 36 (436) Aug. 5, 1976, 2. h. vorgrimler et al., eds., Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II (New York 196769).

[p. f. mulhern]

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