A true homecoming – Bp. Lettmann passes away as a pilgrim in Bethlehem

reinhard lettmannThere is  beauty in dying: if we have to die, it is best, we feel, to do so at home, in the place where we belonged in life. For Bishop Reinhard Lettmann this became true early this afternoon. After celebrating Mass around noon, he passed away, aged 80, in Bethlehem, in the country which had become his second home.

Similarly providential, it seems, the 150 or so deacons and priests who were gathered in Münster fr a day of meeting and study broke up their assembly and offered Vespers for the deceased emeritus bishop.

Bishop Lettmann was bishop of the Diocese of Münster from 1980 to 2008.

A priest since 1959, the native Münsterian held a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University and worked as a stenographer on the official documentation of the Second Vatican Council. In 1973, Msgr. Lettmann, who was administrator of the cathedral of St. Paul at the time, was appointed as auxiliary bishop under Bishop Heinrich Tenhumberg, with the titular diocese of Rotaria. Christo tuo venienti occurrentes became his episcopal motto: “Rushing forward to meet Christ coming”.

In 1980, Bishop Lettmann succeeded Bishop Tenhumberg, who had passed away a few months earlier. Within the German Bishops’ Conference, he was a member of Commission on Ecumenism, and he was also a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. I addition to these and his pastoral duties, he was also a prolific author on various topics.

The obituary on the website of the Diocese of Münster characterises Bishop Lettmann as a “builder of bridges, one the one hand between people, on the other between people and God. He was open towards people, showing tolerance and patience. … He was always confident in dealing with complicated procedures, he loved conversations and encounters with people, but he also always drew strength from voluntary solitude, from silence and prayer.”

Photo credit: Michael Bönte

Happy birthday to Pope Benedict

Out of sight certainly doesn’t mean out of mind in this case. I would be surprised if he himself marks his birthday in any but a small way, but today is indeed the 86th birthday of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

Benedict XVI

‘They’ say his health has deteriorated in recent weeks, but then again: ‘they’ say a lot. We simply don’t know, but we can certainly pray. For his wellbeing, his rest, and his prayers for us. Let’s do that especially today, in hope, faith and love.