Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the former archbishop of Cologne and a prominent conservative voice in the German Church, has died aged 83.
The Cologne archdiocese said he died on Wednesday while on holiday in Bad Fuessing, near the Austrian border.
Born on Christmas Day in 1933 in the eastern German city of Breslau, which is today the Polish city of Wroclaw, Cardinal Meisner’s family fled to the state of Thuringia in 1945 ahead of the advancing Red Army at the end of the Second World War.
He studied theology in the city of Erfurt, and was ordained in 1962.
After advancing up the Catholic hierarchy, he became the Archbishop of Cologne in 1989 and served in that role until 2014, staying five years past the retirement age of 75 at the request of Pope Benedict XVI.
He was an outspoken and sometimes controversial conservative figure in liberal-minded Germany.
He opposed plans to build a large mosque in Cologne and once urged Chancellor Angela Merkel to apologise for criticising the Vatican’s handling of the case of a Holocaust-denying bishop.
Picture: This 10th February 2008 file photo shows Cardinal Joachim Meisner celebrating a Mass in the Cologne cathedral, western Germany. (AP Photo/ Roberto Pfeil, file).