Hermann Josef Hospital

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Coat of arms Hermann Josef Spital, Bishop of Trier (1981-2001)

Hermann Josef Spital [ ˈʃpɪtaːl ] (born December 31, 1925 in Münster ; † January 10, 2007 ibid) was a German theologian and from 1981 to 2001 the (presumably) 101st Roman Catholic Bishop of Trier .



Spital was born as the second of seven children on New Year's Eve in Münster. The father worked as an ophthalmologist . Spital was involved in child and youth work in the home parish early on, but was drafted into the labor service in 1943, where he was injured while cleaning up. He graduated from high school in 1944 ; His career aspiration at the time was that of mechanical engineer. In the last year of the war in 1945, Hermann Josef Spital worked as a farm worker on an uncle's farm; in his free time he continued to work with young people .


In 1946 he first enrolled in medicine , but one year later switched to philosophy and theology , which he studied at the universities of Münster and Freiburg / Switzerland . In Münster he became a member of the K.St.V. Tuiskonia-Monasteria and - like his father, eye doctor Georg Spital - the K.St.V. Marcomannia in KV . He finished his studies successfully and was on August 6, 1952 in his hometown of Bishop Michael Keller for priests ordained . Since then he has also been an active member of the Pauline Community in the diocese of Münster.

Early years

The St. Paulus Cathedral in Munster. Here Spital was the representative of the resident bishop before he came to Trier.

Hermann Josef Spital began as a chaplain in Waltrop , later in Emmerich , then was secretary to Bishop Michael Keller and from 1959 Subregens in the seminary . He received his doctorate theologiae in 1965 with the dissertation "The baptismal rite in the first printed rituals up to the introduction of the Roman ritual" and was then pastor of Dülmen from 1966 to 1969 and dean of the local deanery. In 1969 he was appointed head of the pastoral care office in the Episcopal Vicariate General in Münster, before Bishop Heinrich Tenhumberg appointed him as his Vicar General in the diocese of Münster in 1973 .

On 15 October 1980 it ordered Pope John Paul II. To the titular of Abbir Germaniciana and Auxiliary Bishop in Münster. On December 14, 1980 he received the episcopal ordination from Bishop Reinhard Lettmann . Co-consecrators were the auxiliary bishops Max Georg Freiherr von Twickel and Wilhelm Wöste . As regional bishop, Spital was responsible for Münster and the eastern Münsterland.

Trier years

High Cathedral to Trier . Spital was the bishop of Germany's oldest diocese for 20 years.

On February 24, 1981, the feast day of the Apostle Matthias , the Trier diocese patron, John Paul II appointed him as successor to Bernhard Stein 101st Bishop of Trier (inauguration: May 17, 1981). From 1981 to 2001 the proven liturgical scientist Hermann Josef Spital was first chairman of the "German Liturgical Institute" in Trier.

In 1983 he founded “Aktion Arbeit” in Trier. It is a solidarity fund for the unemployed that still exists today. In the German Bishops' Conference, Spital initially took over the chairmanship of the liturgy commission, and from 1989 the journalistic commission. He was called to serve on the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. From 1989 to 2001 he was President of the German section of the international Catholic peace movement Pax Christi .

The Philosophical-Theological University of Vallendar awarded Spital an honorary theological doctorate in 1995 .

A highlight of his tenure in Trier was the Heilig-Rock-Pilgrimage in 1996 , to which more than 700,000 pilgrims from the diocese and all over the world came to Trier.

The social commitment of the church was important to the hospital. In 1987, in order to secure charitable institutions in the long term, he founded Caritas Trier . In the 1990s, however, the company's chairman, who was directly subordinate to him, was convicted of infidelity. A scandal broke out, the so-called Doerfert affair, about the manager Hans-Joachim Doerfert . At that time the bishop was accused of trusting too much rather than controlling. During the trial, Doerfert stated that the bishop knew everything. Der Spiegel (49, 2000) called the hospital's appearance as a witness before the Koblenz regional court "extremely embarrassing". He had been questioned on November 16, 2000 before the Commercial Criminal Chamber of the Regional Court. The bishop stated that although he had made the fundamental decisions, he did not care about technical or financial details because he did not understand anything about them. “I didn't ask too much about that”. “I left that to the competent authorities”, or “I didn't care where the money came from”, were supposedly the recurring phrases of the bishop. He only wants to have "skimmed" annual accounts and contracts and then passed them on to the "specialist understanding" of the diocese. “As a bishop, I understood my office to mean that I put my trust in the staff so that they could enjoy their work.” He also gave Doerfert the influential position of chairman of the board of the Caritas supporting company because he relied on it , "That everything goes according to law and order". This was also the case in the first five years of the non-profit society's existence. How deaf Spital was to every warning was shown on February 9, 1998, for example. On this day, the Rhineland-Palatinate Minister of Social Affairs Florian Gerster and his State Secretary Klaus Jensen visited Bishop Spital in Trier - exclusively for the purpose of seeing the Bishop in front of Doerfert to warn. In an official communication from the state government of Rhineland-Palatinate, Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Health, the minister and the state secretary “have urgently recommended that the bishop ... make use of his supervisory duties and follow up the information through his own research and examinations . If the bishop had followed this recommendation, the Doerfert affair would not exist in this form today ”.

Spital itself later described the events surrounding Doerfert as a "deep human disappointment".

At the age of 75, he resigned from his position as bishop under the age limits conventions for public officials of the Catholic Church . Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation as diocesan bishop on January 15, 2001. Reinhard Marx became his successor .

Old age and death

After his resignation, Hermann Josef Spital initially stayed in Trier. At the beginning of 2006 he celebrated the silver bishop's jubilee and his 80th birthday in Trier Cathedral. For health reasons, he returned to his hometown Münster in 2006 to spend his old age close to his family. Spital last lived in Friedrichsburg, where he was cared for. After a long illness, he died on January 10, 2007 at the age of 81 in Münster. On January 17th, he was buried in the crypt of Trier Cathedral next to the former Trier Bishop Bernhard Stein, who died in 1993 .

Awards and honors



Hermann Josef Hospital's motto comes from the encyclical Redemptor Hominis by Pope John Paul II and reads

The Redeemer of Man
our honor and our fame
An avid driver

Hermann Josef Spital's career aspiration after the emergency Abitur was that of mechanical engineer. He is said to have had a passion for engines and technology throughout his life. Even as a bishop, he gladly did without the services of his driver and personally sat behind the wheel. Numerous rumors about Spital'sche car trips persisted among the population. For example, his driver's license was allegedly taken from him because of lawn, according to other statements he only received a ticket for it, others reported that he owned a Ferrari. Such rumors were always denied by the episcopal press office. In fact, although the bishop had a fondness for Italian vehicles, he didn't own a Ferrari, but an Alfa Romeo 164 .


  1. Wolfgang Löhr: Bishop of the Dialogue. On the death of Bishop Hermann Josef Spital . In: Academic monthly sheets , published by the Cartel Association of Catholic German Student Associations (KV) , ISSN  0002-3000 , 3/2007, p. 67 (PDF file, 4.6 MB)
  2. Hermann Münzel: The Hundred Million Damage to Caritas Trier CTT. Many guilty parties are still walking around freely. imprimatur . Saarbrücken. Issue 3/2003
  3. Heidi Parade: Politics under suspicion. The shepherd avoids the black ice. The daily mirror. Berlin. November 16, 2000
  4. Introit (Editorial): A bishop has never been so dear to us. Even today, Spital still has adventurous top salaries paid in the ctt. imprimatur . Saarbrücken. Issue 4/2000
  5. Environmentalists show Trier Bishop the yellow card October 26, 2011, Trierischer Volksfreund.
  6. I wanted to be a good bishop ( memento from April 12, 2013 in the web archive archive.today ) , Trierischer Volksfreund from January 11, 2007.


Web links

predecessor Office successor
Bernhard Stein Bishop of Trier
Reinhard Marx
Reinhard Lettmann Vicar General of the Diocese of Münster
Heinrich Janssen