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German Cardinal Cordes, critic of episcopal conference, dead at 89

March 15, 2024

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CWN Editor's Note: Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, the retired president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, died on March 15 at the age of 89.

A German native, the future cardinal was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Paderbon in 1975. He was named vice president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 1980, then became president of Cor Unum in 1995, and served in that role until his retirement in 2010. He was raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

In his retirement Cardinal Cordes had become critical of the direction of the German bishops’ conference, saying that the country was infected with a “theological virus.” He said: “The existing German ecclesial apparatus is completely unfit to work against growing secularism.”

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