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Franz Hengsbach

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Styles of
Franz Hengsbach
CardinalCoA PioM
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Essen (emeritus)

Franz Hengsbach (September 10, 1910—June 24, 1991) was a German Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Bishop of Essen from 1957 to 1991, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1988.


Franz Hengsbach was born in Velmede to Johann and Theresia Hengsbach; he had five brothers and two sisters. He studied at the Institute of Brilon and the seminaries in Paderborn and Freiburg. Hengsbach obtained his doctorate in theology in 1944 from the University of Münich, with a dissertation entitled Das Wesen der Verkündigung - Eine homiletische Untersuchung auf paulinischer Grundlag[1].

He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Kaspar Klein on March 13, 1937, and then served as vicar of Herne-Bukau, St. Marien until 1946. Hengsbach became general secretary of the Akademische Bonifatius-Vereinigung in Paderborn in 1946, and of the Central Committee for the Preparation of German Catholics in 1947. From 1948 to 1958, he was director of the archdiocesan pastoral office of Paderborn. He was made Domestic Prelate of His Holiness in 1952, and secretary general of the Central Committee of German Catholics on April 30, 1952.

On August 20, 1953, Hengsbach was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn and Titular Bishop of Cantanus by Pope Pius XI. He received his episcopal consecration on the following September 29 from Archbishop Lorenz Jäger, with Bishops Wilhelm Weskamm and Friedrich Rintelen serving as co-consecrators, in Paderborn Cathedral. Hengsbach was later named the first Bishop of Essen on November 18, 1957.

The Bishop later founded Adveniat, an organization of the German episcopate to assist the Roman Catholic Church in Latin America, and was appointed bishop of the German Military Ordinariate on October 10, 1961. From 1962 to 1965, he attended the Second Vatican Council. Hengsbach also served as Grand Prior of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and was made President of the German Episcopal Commission for Universal Church Affairs in 1976. He was appointed a member of the Council of the European Episcopal Conference in 1977, and resigned from his post in the military ordinariate on May 22, 1978.

Pope John Paul II created him Cardinal Priest of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe a Monte Mario in the consistory of June 28, 1988. Hengsbach lost the right to participate in any future papal conclave upon reaching the age of eighty on September 10, 1990, and, after a period of thirty-three years, resigned as Bishop of Essen on February 21, 1991.

The Cardinal died from complications after a stomach operation at an Essen hospital, aged 80. He is buried in the crypt of Essen Cathedral.


  1. "The nature of the Annunciation - a homiletic exploration on a Pauline basis"

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Preceded by
Bishop of Essen
Succeeded by
Hubert Luthe
Preceded by
Joseph Wendel
Bishop of the German Military Ordinariate
Succeeded by
Elmar Kredel
no:Franz Hengsbach

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