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Alfred Bengsch

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Styles of
Alfred Bengsch
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Berlin

Alfred Bengsch (September 10, 1921 – December 13, 1979) was a German Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Berlin from 1961 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1967.

Alfred Bengsch was born in Berlin, and his father Leo was a postal worker. Entering a Jesuit-run gymnasium in 1932, he later attended the Superior School of Philosophy and Theology in Fulda, and the seminary in Neuzelle. During World War II, Bengsch was drafted by the German Army; in the course of his service, he was wounded and captured by the Americans in August 1944.

He was eventually ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Konrad von Preysing on April 2, 1950. Bengsch then did pastoral work in Berlin until 1954, when he began teaching at the seminary in Erfurt, of which he was named regent on April 1, 1959. From 1956 to 1959, he also served as a professor at Neuzelle's seminary.

On May 2, 1959, Bengsch was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Berlin and Titular Bishop of Tubia. He received his episcopal consecration on the following June 11 from Cardinal Julius Döpfner. Bengsch succeeded Döpfner as Bishop of Berlin on August 16, 1961, three days after the erection of the Berlin Wall. During his tenure in Berlin, he was given a monthly permission to cross the Wall to minister to the Eastern portion of his flock[1]. The German prelate was granted the personal title of "Archbishop" on January 14, 1962, and participated in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

File:Bengsch ratzinger1977.jpg

Viewed as a conservative, Bengsch did not involve himself in political affairs[2]. He was created Cardinal Priest of S. Filippo Neri in Eurosia by Pope Paul VI in the consistory of June 26, 1967. As Bengsch was the first East German to receive the red hat, this was seen as an act to better the Church's relations with East Germany[2]. He was also the youngest prelate to be elevated at the ceremony[3]. Berlin's bishop was one of the cardinal electors in the conclaves of August and October 1978.

Bengsch died in Berlin at age 58, and was buried at St. Hedwig's Cathedral.


  1. TIME Magazine. Milestones December 24, 1979
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ibid.
  3. TIME Magazine. The Fine Papal Art Of Creating New Cardinals June 9, 1967

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Preceded by
Julius Döpfner
Bishop of Berlin
Succeeded by
Joachim Meisner
no:Alfred Bengsch

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