Walter Brandmüller

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His Eminence
Walter Brandmüller
Cardinal-Deacon of San Giuliano dei Fiamminghi
Appointed 20 November 2010
Predecessor Jan Pieter Schotte
Successor Incumbent
Other posts
  • President Emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences
Ordination 26 July 1953
by Joseph Otto Kolb
Consecration 13 November 2010
by Raffaele Farina
Created Cardinal 20 November 2010
by Pope Benedict XVI
Rank Cardinal-Deacon
Personal details
Born (1929-01-05) January 5, 1929 (age 88)
Ansbach, Germany
Nationality German
Denomination Roman Catholic
Previous post
  • Titular Archbishop of Caesarea in Mauretania (2010)
Coat of arms Walter Brandmüller's coat of arms
Styles of
Walter Brandmüller
Coat of arms of Walter Brandmuller.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Walter Brandmüller PhD (born 5 January 1929) is a cardinal of the Catholic Church and president Emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences.[1]

Brandmüller was born in 1929 in Ansbach, Germany. His father was an officer of Roman Catholic religion and his mother was Protestant. Brandmuller was baptized Protestant and converted to Roman Catholicism from Lutheranism[2] in his adolescence.[3][4]

He studied at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich in 1963, he earned a doctorate in history (doctoral thesis: "Das Wiedererstehen katholischer Gemeinden in den Fürstentümern Ansbach und Bayreuth", 'The reestablishment of Catholic parishes in the princedoms of Ansbach and Bayreuth'); and he obtained the "habilitation" in 1967 with the dissertation "Das Konzil von Pavia-Siena (1423–1424)" ('The council of Pavia-Siena').


On 26 July 1953, he was ordained a priest in Bamberg by Joseph Otto Kolb, Archbishop of Bamberg. He did pastoral work in the church of Saint John, Kronach, 1953–1957, and in that of Saint Martin, Bamberg, 1957–1960. Thereafter he did further studies in Munich. He served as Professor of Church History and Patrology at the University of Dillingen from 30 October 1969 until 1971. From 7 October 1970 until his retirement in 1997 he was Professor of Modern and Medieval Church History at the University of Augsburg. From 1971 until 1998, he was parish priest of the Assumption, Walleshausen, Diocese of Augsburg.[1]

A specialist in the history of the councils, he is founder and editor of the journal Annuarium conciliorum historiae (Paderborn, 1969); and of the series "Konziliengeschichte" (1979), which has published 37 volumes so far. He also published the "Handbook of Bavarian Church History" (St. Ottilie, 1991–1999, 3 vols. in 4). From 1981 to 1998, he was a member of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. He was appointed Honorary Prelate on 17 July 1983. On 22 July 1990, he received the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany from president Richard von Weizsäcker. He served as President of the International Commission for Contemporary Church History from 1998 until 2006. He is a canon of the chapter of the Saint Peter's Basilica since 1997.

From 13 June 1998 until 3 December 2009, he was President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences. On 20 November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI elevated Brandmüller to the College of Cardinals as Cardinal-Deacon of S. Giuliano dei Fiamminghi. Being over 80 at the time of his elevation, Brandmüller has been unable to vote in a conclave.


As generally required by canon law for cardinals,[5] he was appointed a bishop. On 13 November 2010, in the church of Santa Maria dell'Anima, he received episcopal consecration from Cardinal Raffaele Farina, S.D.B., Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, assisted by Ludwig Schick, Archbishop of Bamberg and Giuseppe De Andrea.[1]

Amoris laetitia[edit]

Brandmüller, along with three other cardinals, has issued a request to Pope Francis, entitled "Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in Amoris Laetitia", seeking clarification on various points of doctrine in the Pope's apostolic exhortation, Amoris laetitia. The cardinals had previously submitted dubia in private, but since he did not respond to these, the cardinals followed instructions in the Gospel of Matthew[6] and issued this public letter. The first dubium concerns the reception of the sacraments by the divorced and remarried. The other four ask about fundamental issues of the Christian life, and reference Pope John Paul II's encyclical Veritatis splendor.[7]

In June 2017, after seven months of not receiving a response from Pope Francis to their request that he clarify highly disputed parts in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), four cardinals asked the Pope for an audience in April but the Pope had not responded as of 19 June 2017. In an April 25 letter hand-delivered to the Pope on May 6, Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Brandmüller, Raymond Burke and Joachim Meisner wrote to Francis asking for an audience, having received no response to the dubia they sent him in September 2016.[8]