Franz Hengsbach

Franz Cardinal Hengsbach ( born September 10, 1910 in Velmede, † June 24, 1991 in Essen ) was the first Bishop of Essen. His appointment as cardinal was announced on 29 May 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

  • 2.1 kidnapping of Theo Albrecht
  • 2.2 Withdrawal of permission to teach for Uta Ranke- Heinemann
  • 3.1 honorary doctorates
  • 3.2 honorary professorships
  • 3.3 Ecclesiastical honorary title
  • 3.4 Awards
  • 3.5 Other honors


Franz Hengsbach was born as the first of eight children of the married couple John and Theresa Hengsbach. Hengsbach attended from 1925 to 1926 the school Petrinum Brilon, in 1926 he prepared the Theodorianum Grammar School in Paderborn on a high school before, which he completed there on March 6, 1931. During this time he lived in the minor seminary to Paderborn.


After graduation Hengsbach entered the Archbishop's Theologenkonvikt Paderborn and studied philosophy and Catholic theology there. In 1933 he joined the University of Freiburg, where he was a member of the KDSt.V. Hercynia Freiburg in CV was, and returned in 1934 to Paderborn. 1944 was followed by the doctorate in theology. at the University of Muenster in Adolf Donders with a thesis on the essence of the Annunciation - A homiletic study on Paul's foundation.

Ecclesiastical career

On March 13, 1937 Franz Hengsbach was consecrated by Archbishop Caspar small in Paderborn as a priest and entered into this year, his first position as a curate in the parish of St. Mary in Herne Baukau to. From 1946 to 1948, he stood before as General Secretary of the Academic Boniface Association and participated in 1947 at the same time as Secretary-General to prepare for the German Catholics days and was responsible for the German Catholic 73, 1949 in Bochum, Germany.

In 1948 he moved to the top of the Archbishop's pastoral ministry of the Archdiocese of Paderborn, which he directed until 1958. In this period also saw his election as General Secretary of the Central Committee of German Catholics and the appointment of the Pontifical House prelates in 1952 and was appointed titular bishop of Cantanus and Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn on 20 August 1953.

The Episcopal ordination by the Paderborn Archbishop Lorenz Jaeger took place in Paderborn Cathedral on 29 September 1953. Co-consecrators were Bishop Friedrich Maria Rintelen and Bishop William Weskamm of Berlin. On November 18, 1957 Hengsbach was appointed bishop of the newly established Diocese of Essen and enthroned on 1 January 1958. His now exhibited at the Essen Cathedral Treasury bishop's ring adorned - instead of a gemstone - an encompassed piece of coal. He expressed his solidarity with the Ruhr. In 1960 he was called by Pope John XXIII. appointed to the Council Preparatory Commission for lay work. Besides its function as bishop of Essen, he was also from 1961 to 1978 Catholic military bishop for the Bundeswehr, but turned out since 1968 at the same time responsible for the pastoral care of alternative service. He founded the episcopal press office in the diocese of Essen. This facility was in its time the only one in Germany. With its head William Bettecken also joined him for a long-lasting friendship.

In 1973 he was appointed as a member of the Roman Congregation for the Clergy and the Central Committee for the Holy Year. On May 29 In 1988, Pope John Paul II, he was appointed cardinal known; recording as a cardinal priest in the College of Cardinals in the consistory of 28 June took place in 1988 in Rome. His titular church of Nostra Signora di Guadalupe, he took on December 10, 1988 in possession.

His resignation, which every bishop submits under the provisions of the Code of Canon Law with the completion of the 75th year of life, Pope John Paul II after five years on 21 February 1991, which can be seen as a great recognition of his life's work. After a serious illness he died in the early morning hours of June 24, 1991 in Essen Elizabeth Hospital and was in 1981, designed by Emil Wachter West crypt (now Adveniatkrypta ) buried the Essen Cathedral. His successor at the Essen episcopal throne in 1991 Hubert Luthe.

Equestrian Order of the Holy grave

In 1954 he was appointed to Jerusalem from Cardinal Grand Master Nicola Cardinal Canali Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy grave and in the Order of St. Andrew's Basilica on December 8, 1954 Lorenz Jaeger, Grand Prior of the German governor's office, invested; last in the rank of Grand Cross Knight.

From 1975 to 1991 he was Grand Prior of the German Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy grave in Jerusalem.

For his work in the Holy Land in 1979 he was honored by Cardinal Grand Master Maximilien de Furstenberg with the Palme d'Or of Jerusalem.


Kidnapping of Theo Albrecht

On November 29, 1971, Theo Albrecht, one of the two Aldi's owner, was kidnapped. The hijacking lasted 17 days and found only with the transfer of seven million marks ransom by Franz Hengsbach end.

At the ransom drop by her bishop, in agreement with the Albrecht family. The investigations senior police President of Essen, Hans Kirchhoff had the 82nd German Catholic organization for Hengsbach 1968 in Essen. He looked at the Essen Bishop the man who could bring the greatest confidence in the kidnappers.

Due to the participation of the Bishop Hengsbach in 1988 briefly as a mediator in Gladbeck hostage drama in conversation.

Withdrawal of permission to teach for Uta Ranke- Heinemann

On 9 June 1987, the Essenes Bishop Wolfgang Große called theology professor Uta Ranke- Heinemann, they should make a binding declaration on the virgin birth, because their comments in the media that led to irritation. But after it in a television program of the West 3 magazine " God and the World", theme: insisted virgin birth (June 13, 1987, 22.45 clock ) to their opinion, the virgin birth is not biologically to understand their eluded Hengsbach with his letter the responsible Minister on 15 June 1987, the teaching license.


Honorary doctorates

Honorary professorships

Ecclesiastical honorary title


Other honors

  • In his home town Velmede a bridge was named after him Cardinal - Hengsbach Bridge.
  • The Episcopal conference center for training priests, pastoral training and retreats in the Diocese of Essen named Cardinal - Hengsbach house.
  • On October 13, 2011, a monument was built on the Hengsbachs Domhof of Essen Cathedral, north of Essen Burg Square, unveiled. The colorized bronze statue, designed by sculptor Silke Rehberg from the Munsterland, was funded by the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Foundation and Evonik Industries.
  • Was an honorary member of FC Schalke 04