Cardinal Karl-Josef Rauber passes away

A true shepherd of the Church

 A true shepherd of the Church  ING-014
06 April 2023

Upon learning of the death of Cardinal Karl-Josef Rauber on Sunday, 26 March,  Pope Francis expressed his condolences in a telegram addressed to Bishop Peter Kohlgraf of Mainz, Germany.  The following is a translation of the Pope’s telegram which was written in German, accompanied by a brief biography of the late Cardinal.

I have learned with sadness the news that the Lord God has called his servant, Cardinal Karl-Josef Rauber, from this world to eternity. His priestly and episcopal life was particularly marked by service to the successor of Peter, “the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” (Lumen Gentium, 23). Thus, the departed Cardinal was able to work with dedication for the unity of the people of God both in the Roman Curia and in various parts of the world as Apostolic Nuncio. As a true pastor of the Church, he was filled with love of Christ in all his actions, which led him not to keep it for himself, but to pass it on unreservedly and joyfully to mankind. May he now forever praise the merciful love of the Redeemer. I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to all those who remember the deceased Cardinal in prayer and in the Eucharistic sacrifice.

Pope Francis

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German Cardinal Karl-Josef Rauber, former Apostolic Nuncio, passed away on Sunday evening, 26 March, in Rottenburg, in Baden-Württemberg, Land (state), at the age of 88.

Cardinal Rauber was born in Nürnberg, Germany, in the Archdiocese of Bamberg on 11 April 1934, to Leopold Rauber, a ministerial advisor, and Mathilde Wedermann, a teacher.

After obtaining a diploma from Saint Michaels-Gymnasium of the Benedictine Order in Metten in 1950, he studied theology and philosophy at the University of Mainz. He was ordained a priest on 28 February 1959 in the Cathedral of Mainz, capital of Rhineland-Paltinate. For three years he lived out his ministry in the small Catholic community of Nidda. As parish vicar, he served as an aide to the scouts and Catholic youth.

In 1962 he moved to Rome, where he obtained a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and entered the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. He began his diplomatic service in 1966, in the Section of the Secretariat of State dedicated to relations with States and International Organizations. In his 11 years in the Roman Curia, Cardinal Rauber obtained great ecclesiastical experience in close communion with the Pope. In particular, on 20 October 1971, Pope Paul vi appointed him Chaplain of His Holiness and, later, Honorary Prelate of His Holiness.

From 1977, he served as pontifical representative in Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and Uganda. In 1982, Pope John Paul ii appointed him Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Uganda, assigning him the titular see of Iubaltiana. He was ordained a bishop on 6 January 1983, by Pope John Paul ii in Saint Peter’s Basilica and chose the episcopal motto Caritas Christi urget nos.

On 22 January 1990, he was appointed President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

Three years later, on 16 March 1993, he returned to active diplomatic service, first as pontifical representative in Switzerland and Liechtenstein (1993-1997), then in Hungary and Moldova (1997-2003), and finally in Belgium and Luxembourg (2003-2009), thus concluding where he had begun his diplomatic career.

Upon turning 75 in 2009, Cardinal Rauber retired from the diplomatic service. From then on, he carried out his spiritual and pastoral ministry in Germany, at the house of the Schönstatt Sisters of Mary in Ergenzingen, in the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, always maintaining his relationship with the Diocese of Mainz.

Pope Francis created him a cardinal in the consistory of 14 February 2015, assigning him the Deaconry of Sant’Antonio di Padova a Circonvallazione Appia). He took possession of the deaconry the following 13 June. On 1 April 2017, he was appointed the Pontiff’s special envoy for the celebration of the 375th anniversary of the founding of the Shrine of Kevelaer, in Germany, dedicated to Mary Consolatrix afflictorum (Comforter of the Afflicted), which took place on 3 June 2017.