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Heiner Wilmer

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Bishop Heiner Wilmer, SCJ
Bishop Heiner Wilmer, SCJ
Coat of arms of Heiner Wilmer

Heiner Wilmer, SCJ (born 9 April 1961, in Schapen) is a German Catholic prelate who has served as the Bishop of Hildesheim since 2018. He was formerly the superior general of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart (Dehonians).[1]


Wilmer grew up on a farm in Emsland. In 1980 he graduated at the Leoninum, a high school operated by the Dehonians in Handrup close to his hometown. In the same year, he entered the novitiate of the congregation in Freiburg. From 1981 to 1986 he studied theology in Freiburg and romance philology (romance languages) in Paris. After that he was ordained as priest by Archbishop Oskar Saier, the archbishop of Freiburg. He then went to Rome to study at the Gregorian Pontifical University; his focus was French philosophy. In 1991 Wilmer earned a Doctor of Theology in Freiburg, where he dealt with the concept of mysticism in the philosophy of Maurice Blondel. His works were awarded the Bernhard Welte Prize.

Shortly after that, he studied for a Master of Arts in History. Sometime before he finished his first master's degree Wilmer met the Dutch priest Henri Nouwen. At the request of Nouwen, Wilmer represented him for four months as a pastor at L'Arche Daybreak in Toronto, a facility for people with disabilities. After that he worked for two years as a school counselor and taught religion, political science and history at the Liebfrauenschule Vechta (a German high school) in Niedersachsen, Germany. In 1997 he went to the United States for a year to teach German and history at the Fordham Preparatory School, a Jesuit high school in the Bronx (New York). Upon his return, he became headmaster of the SCJ high school Leoninum in Handrup.[2]

In 2007, Wilmer was elected for Provincial Superior of the German Province of the Dehonians.

Five years later he published a book (“Gott ist nicht nett – God is not kind”) in which he reflected on his faith and his decision to become a priest.[3]

On 25 May 2015 Wilmer was elected by the Dehonians as superior general for a term of six years.[4][5]

He succeeded José Ornelas Carvalho, SCJ, who held the office for 12 years (two six-year terms).

On 6 April 2018, the pope appointed Wilmer as Bishop of Hildesheim.[1]


In June 2019 he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on the issue of celibacy for priests, that he himself is "a willingly passionate celibate religious" but the unmarried state of the clergy could be made to shine even brighter if it were not simply mandatory for all clerics.[6] He voted for the text of the German Synodal Way in favor of reforming Catholic sexual teaching.[7][8]


  • Mystik zwischen Tun und Denken: ein neuer Zugang zur Philosophie Maurice Blondels, Herder Freiburg 1992, ISBN 3-451-22864-5 [Übersetzung ins Französische]
  • Wer leben will, muss aufbrechen: spirituell lernen von Brasilien, Don Bosco, München 2010, ISBN 978-3-7698-1807-9 [Übersetzung ins Spanische]
  • Johannes Duns Scotus „Tractatus de primo principio“: wissenschaftstheoretische Überlegungen, Bonn H. Wilmer 2013, ISBN 978-3-00-040881-6
  • Gott ist nicht nett, Herder, Freiburg 2013, ISBN 978-3-451-32581-6 [Übersetzung ins Tschechische] (together with Simon Biallowons)
  • Trägt. Die Kunst, Hoffnung und Liebe zu glauben. Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2020, ISBN 978-3-451-39338-9 (together with Simon Biallowons)


External links[edit]

English language

German language

Heiner Wilmer
Born: 9 April 1961 in Schapen
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Hildesheim