'Dissident' Cardinal Meisner dies aged 83

BERLIN -- Archbishop Joachim Meisner, one of the four 'dissident,' conservative cardinals who publicly expressed reservations about Pope Francis’ reforms, has died aged 83, Church officials said Wednesday.

Meisner was one of the Germany’s leading conservative Catholic figures and played a fundamental role in the movement against the pontiff over the last few years. He was one of the four cardinals who asked the Argentinian pope to amend the most important document of his papacy, the Amoris Laetitia and clashed with the pontiff over the issue of Catholic marriage and divorce.  

 Meisner was born in Silesia and became a priest in 1962. He was chosen by Saint Pope John Paul II to take office as the Bishop of Berlin in 1980, whilst the city was still divided. He resided in East Berlin, even though he was a staunch anticomunist, but was allowed to move between the two parts. During the 2005 conclave after the death of John Paul, Meisner worked behind the scenes to support the campaign of Ratzinger and to combat the so called San Gallo alliance who supported the election of a pope who was less traditionalist, such as cardinal Martini or Bergoglio, the future Francis.

 Meisner served as the Archbishop of Cologne from 1989 until 2014, after he resigned following his 80th birthday and the consequential loss of the right to participate in future conclaves.

Meisner died during a holiday to Bad Fuessing in Germany, officials said.