Since the rather impressive rise of Cardinal Rainer Woelki (from auxiliary bishop of Cologne to archbishop of Berlin to cardinal in the space of some eight months), the ancient Archdiocese of Köln, as the Germans calls it, has been missing an auxiliary bishop of its northern pastoral area (including cities such as Düsseldorf and Wuppertal). Today, that situation changed, as Pope Benedict XVI appointed the vicar general of Köln as auxiliary bishop.
Bishop elect Dominik Schwaderlapp is almost 45, and will be youngest bishop in northwestern Europe, and the second youngest in the German-speaking world*. He has been serving as vicar general of Köln since 2004, although, if the official announcement is any indication, in that archdiocese this is an office not typically associated with a bishop. The new bishop was ordained a priest in 1993, and in 2002 he became in Doctor of Theology with a dissertation on the personal, sacramental and ethical dimensions of marriage in the teaching of Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Bishop elect Schwaderlapp will join Archbishop Joachim Cardinal Meisner and auxiliary bishop Heiner Koch and Manfred Melzer in the archdiocesan curia. The relative short time in which the archdiocese of 2 million faithful went without three auxiliaries may have something to do with the fact that Cardinal Meisner is well over the mandatory retirement age of 75. Having turned 78 on Christmas Day, the cardinal is three years beyond that age.
As auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Schwaderlapp will hold the titular see of Frequentium in southern Italy. He will be consecrated on 25 March.
*Bishop Anton Leichtfried, auxiliary of Sankt Pölten in Austria, is 26 days younger.
Photo credit: Erzbistum Köln