Rudolf Graber (Bishop)

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Rudolf Graber (born September 13, 1903 in Bayreuth ; † January 31, 1992 in Regensburg ) was a German theologian and Roman Catholic bishop of Regensburg .



Rudolf Graber was born the son of a judicial officer and grew up in Nuremberg from 1904 . He attended the New High School in Nuremberg and, after graduating from high school , which he passed with distinction, entered the Collegium Willibaldinum seminary in Eichstätt in 1922 , where he studied philosophy . He completed his theology studies as an alumnus of the Canisianum in Innsbruck at the University of Innsbruck . The ordination received Graber with 22 years on 1 August 1926 in the abbey church Plankstetten by the Bishop of Eichstatt, John Leo of marl OSB . That same year he appeared as Alumne in the priestly College Santa Maria dell'Anima in Rome and in 1929 at the Pontifical Institute Angelicum to Dr. theol. PhD .

During his studies in Rome, Rudolf Graber became a member of the Third Order of the Dominicans .

In 1929 he returned to his home diocese of Eichstätt and in May 1929 became a teacher of religion and Latin at the state secondary school in Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate . Bishop Johannes Leo von Mergel supported Graber's employment, paid the Latin lessons and also appointed him provisional for the local parish deficit in youth pastoral care. After the National Socialists came to power , the provisional NSDAP mayor ordered that Latin classes at the school should in future be held by an unemployed university professor. After this happened on May 1, 1933, Graber “entered the school with great reluctance”. His resulting "excessive, hardly justifiable reluctance" in teaching and even in religious support led to the resignation by the school director at the end of July 1933. From February 1931 to December 1933 Graber officiated as the "spiritual director" of the Danube House of the Catholic youth organization Bund Neudeutschland . From 1932 to 1933 he also held the position of "spiritual leader" in the elderly federation of the Bund New Germany.

Work in the time of National Socialism

On the Danube Day of the Bund New Germany in June 1933, Graber gave the speech: German broadcast. On the idea and history of the Sacrum Imperium (= " Holy Roman Empire "). In this he described Adolf Hitler as "Savior, Father and Earthly Savior". In addition, there are anti-Semitic and ethnic passages in this speech in which he calls the “struggle against Judaism ” an “instinctive aversion of the whole German people”, as well as the subsequent rhetorical question “why the rejected Israel should rule the world and not that People of the Middle ". Graber called the "Third Reich the salvation of the West from the chaos of Bolshevism, Asian barbarism".

In September 1933, the Bishop of Eichstätt, Count Konrad von Preysing , appointed him to the position of Expositus of Wasserzell near Eichstätt. Since then, Graber has also worked as a religion teacher at the local high school and at the teachers' college. In September 1934 Graber joined the National Socialist People's Welfare (NSV) , which took over the welfare organization as a state organization in the course of harmonization with the prohibition of workers' welfare .

Graber had been teaching ascetics and mysticism in Eichstätt since 1937. In 1939 he was appointed cathedral preacher at Eichstätt Cathedral.

In 1941 Graber, who continued to hold his pastor's post, was initially appointed extraordinary professor of church history and patrology . On August 25, 1941, he was appointed associate professor for fundamental theology , ascetics and mysticism at the Catholic University of Eichstätt .

Professorship in Eichstätt (1946–1962)

After the end of the war, Rudolf Graber was appointed full professor of fundamental theology and church history as well as ascetics and mysticism in Eichstätt on December 24, 1946 . From 1957 to 1962 he was secretary of the Marian magazine Bote von Fatima ; he had been associated with the Marian movement since his youth.

Bishop of Regensburg

Pope John XXIII appointed him Bishop of Regensburg on March 28, 1962 . The Archbishop of Munich and Freising , Julius Cardinal Döpfner , donated him his episcopal ordination on June 2, 1962 in Regensburg Cathedral . Co- consecrators were the bishop of Eichstätt Joseph Schröffer and the Regensburg auxiliary bishop Josef Hiltl . His motto was "Serve in Love". Graber was a council father and participant in all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council .

Just one year after the University of Regensburg was founded in 1967, under the teaching leadership of Bishop Graber, a chair originally planned for Jewish Studies was converted into another for Catholic dogmatics and offered to Joseph Ratzinger , who moved from Tübingen and then accepted it in autumn 1969 .

As Bishop of Regensburg Graber supported the Engelwerk , among other things through the recognition of its priestly brotherhood in the diocese of Regensburg. In 1972, however, he broke off his ties to the Engelwerk completely. In 1973 he caused a sensation when he rejected the Federal Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany because of the changed paragraph on abortion § 218 StGB .

In 1977 Graber was one of the two co-consecrators at the episcopal ordination of Joseph Ratzinger in Munich. In the same year he refused Paul Zulehner the placet to take over a chair at the theological faculty in Regensburg.

His resignation was granted by Pope John Paul II on September 14, 1981. He headed the diocese of Regensburg as Apostolic Administrator until Manfred Müller took office in 1982 .

Graber has published more than 1200 articles and scientific papers. Bishop Graber was seen as the “far right” in the German Bishops' Conference, he was an ardent supporter of the apparitions of Mary at Fatima and at the same time an open-minded pioneer of ecumenical dialogue with the Orthodox churches.

Bishop Graber and the Deggendorfer grace

After Rudolf Graber was appointed bishop of Regensburg, he had to take a stand in October 1962 for the annual opening of the so-called Deggendorfer Gnad . The “grace” was a so-called host pilgrimage, which is based on a medieval -Jewish hostile host sacrilege legend. Since the end of the 19th century, “Gnad” had been the subject of national and international criticism, which urged the pilgrimage to be discontinued. In his Deggendorf sermon on October 3, 1962, Graber condemned the cruel persecution of Jews since the Middle Ages. But the pilgrimage, according to Graber, does not serve to glorify the murder of the Jews and “that is why we will never, for the sake of some article and letter writers, discontinue Deggendorf grace.” Instead of this attitude, Bishop Graber emphasized that Deggendorf grace has always been a “Eucharistic event "Which in the future should also make atonement for all the crimes" committed by our people in the early Middle Ages, in the late Middle Ages [...] especially in the recent past. "

The criticism of the ongoing pilgrimage did not end with this renaming and subsequently concentrated increasingly on the diocesan bishop Graber, who was responsible for Deggendorf , who refused to publicly announce "the historical refutation of the accusation of the host" after being asked. As a result, the German Coordination Council of the Societies for Christian-Jewish Cooperation (DKR) intervened in the debate and intensified criticism of Graber. For example, the DKR board of directors addressed Graber's above article “Deutsche Sendung” (“Werkblättern”, 1933/34) as an “obviously anti-Semitic statement” and demanded a written distancing from Graber - “ expressis verbis ”. Graber replied that it was highly unfair to unearth the past 34 years ago and stated that the editors of the "Werkblätter" had revised his contribution without his knowledge. Graber also called for the allegations to be withdrawn and threatened to take “further steps” against the board of the DKR. However, the allegations were neither withdrawn nor the announced further steps.

In the autumn of 1991, Andreas Angerstorfer referred to the legend of the host, on which Deggendorfer's grace is based, in the circular of the Regensburg Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation as “a solid religious and political lie that produced anti-Judaism”.

Only after Graber's death and after completion of the relevant doctoral thesis of the church historian Manfred Eder , which was supervised by the Catholic faculty of the University of Regensburg, did Bishop Manfred Müller , Graber's successor, stop the Deggendorfer Gnad in March 1992.

Historical evaluation of Graber's behavior under National Socialism

Graber's position and further actions during the Nazi era are controversial. After the magazine Der Spiegel in 1969 addressed Graber's political behavior and the lecture “Deutsche Sendung” (1933), this was also documented in the series Theological Forum - Texts for Religious Education as an example of the problematic connection between the Catholic Church and National Socialist anti-Semitism.

In an overview that deals with the work of Catholic theologians during the Nazi era, Graber's theology (around 1933) is rated as an ideological approach “that no longer has anything in common with the Christian faith”.

A more recent study, which among other things analyzes Graber's lecture Deutsche Sendung (1933), comes to the conclusion that Rudolf Graber, as spiritual director of the organization Bund Neudeutschland , developed and disseminated a Catholic “Reich theology” in which Christian hostility towards Jews with anti-Semitic ethnicity ideology is merged. In addition, after the end of the Nazi regime, Graber did not admit to his anti-Semitic work in the Nazi state. Even after 1945, the continuities of this thinking can be seen in Graber, for example in a lecture from 1957 when he spoke of the “fall of the West” when it is “biologically, blood-wise, permeated and taken over by new unconsumed peoples”, or in a lecture at the University of Regensburg, when he paid tribute to the life and work of Karl Adam without going into his involvement in Nazi ideology.

The representation of the diocese of Regensburg, however, emphasizes Graber's clear rejection of National Socialism. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took the view that Graber had "like very few people" withstood "the demon of the Third Reich".


honors and awards

Publications (selection)

Publications in book form

  • The gifts of the Holy Spirit , Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 1936.
  • Christ in his Holy Sacraments , Verlag Kösel-Pustet, Munich 1937.
  • Maria assumpta , Girnth 1951.
  • The Marian world circulars of the Popes in the last hundred years , Echter-Verlag Würzburg 1954 (second edition)
  • Adoration of the Sacred Heart in the Crisis of the Present , Johann Michael Sailer Verlag 1962.
  • The secrets of the rosary , Echter-Verlag, Würzburg 1976.
  • Maria: Virgin - Mother - Queen , Verlag Wort und Werk Sankt Augustin 1980 (2nd edition), ISBN 3805000472 .
  • Athanasius and the Church of Our Time - on the 1600th anniversary of his death. , Kral-Verlag 1990.

Articles in collective works

  • Regensburg Cathedral Chapter (Ed.), Preach the Word - Sermons, Speeches, Lectures , Regensburg, 1968.
  • Preserve Jesus Christ's Holy Legacy Sermons - Speeches - Lectures , Regensburg 1980, ISBN 3791706691

Magazine articles

  • German broadcast - On the idea and history of the Sacrum Imperium , Part I in: Neudeutschland-Älterenbund (Hrsg.), Werkblätter , 6th year, Heft 7/8, 1933, pp. 169–176; Part II, in: Werkblätter , 6th year, issue 9/10, 1933/1934, pp. 232–243.

Lectures (selection)

  • Karl Adam (1876–1966) on his 100th birthday (guest lecture on the occasion of the award of an honorary theological doctorate to Mr. Graber on June 23, 1976, University of Regensburg), 1976


  • Andreas Angerstorfer: The long dispute - the southern Bavarian societies Augsburg - Munich - Regensburg and the "Degendorfer Gnad". In: GCJZ (Ed.): 50 Years Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation (GCJZ) , Munich 1988.
  • Johann Auer , Franz Mußner , Georg Schwaiger (eds.): Lordship of God, Lordship of the World - Festschrift Bishop Dr. Dr. hc Rudolf Graber, presented by professors of the Catholic Theol on leaving his diocese of Regensburg. Faculty of the University of Regensburg and priests of the diocese of Regensburg in university service , Regensburg 1980, ISBN 3-7917-0662-4 .
  • Ludwig Brandl: The Episcopal Philosophical-Theological University of Eichstätt. In: Dominik Burkard (Ed.), Catholic Theology in National Socialism , Würzburg 2007, pp. 575–604. ISBN 3-429-02851-5 .
  • Manfred Eder : The "Deggendorfer Gnad" , Deggendorf 1992, ISBN 3-86036-005-1 .
  • Georg Denzler : Resistance is not the right word - Catholic priests, bishops and theologians in the Third Reich , Zurich 2003, ISBN 3-85842-479-X .
  • Christian Feldmann: Pope Benedict XVI. A critical biography , Reinbek 2006, ISBN 3-498-02115-X .
  • Hans Fleischmann: The Bund New Germany in Eastern Bavaria during the Nazi era. A report. In: Georg Schwaiger (Ed.), Contributions to the History of the Diocese of Regensburg Volume 21 , 1987, pp. 487–552.
  • Karl Hausberger : Bishop Graber. In: Erwin Gatz (ed.), With the collaboration of Franz Xaver Bischof a. a .: The bishops of the German-speaking countries 1945 to 2001. A biographical lexicon. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-428-10684-9 , pp. 455-458.
  • Karl Hausberger: The History of the Diocese of Regensburg Volume II , Regensburg 1989, pp. 248-257.
  • Ulrich v. Hehl: Priests under Hitler's Terror Volume I, 3rd exp. Edition, Munich 1996, ISBN 3-506-79839-1 .
  • Karl-Joseph Hummel : German History 1933–1945. Munich 1998, ISBN 3-7892-9314-8 .
  • Hans Küng: Controversial Truth , Munich 2007, ISBN 978-3-492-05123-1 .
  • Paul Mai : In memoriam Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Rudolf Graber. In: Negotiations of the Historisches Verein Oberpfalz and Regensburg 132, 1992, pp. 255-258.
  • Emmeram Ritter: Called and chosen. In memory of Bishop Dr. theol. Dr. hc Rudolf Graber , Regensburg 1992.
  • Emmeram Ritter (Ed.): Bibliography Bishop Dr. theol. Dr. hc Rudolf Graber. 1927–1983 , Institutum Marianum, Regensburg 1983, ISBN 3-87442-003-5 .
  • Josef Staber: Church history of the diocese of Regensburg , Regensburg 1966.
  • Werner Trutwin (Ed.): Theological Forum. Texts for Religious Education - Jews and Christians Volume 7 (Selected and edited by Werner Trutwin and Günter Wischmann), Düsseldorf 1971.
  • Robert Werner: Comments on historical theological opportunism in Rudolf Graber , Hagalil Munich, 2011.
  • Robert Werner: Brown spots on the priest's skirt. Studies on the denial and suppression of the Nazi past by the Regensburg theologians Josef Engert, Rudolf Graber and Theobald Schrems , Regensburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-9814689-6-0 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Angelus Walz OP: "Dominikaner und Dominikanerinnen in Süddeutschland (1225–1966)", p. 47. ( Memento of October 10, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 464 kB)
  2. Bruno Legenfelder: Dr. Rudolf Graber as a secondary school teacher in Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate. In: Karl Hausberger: Kulturarbeit und Kirche , Verlag des Verein für Regensburg Bishopric History, 2005, p. 246.
  3. Bruno Legenfelder: Dr. Rudolf Graber as a secondary school teacher in Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate. In: Karl Hausberger: Kulturarbeit und Kirche , 2005, p. 251.
  4. According to Director Ruhl, quoted from: Bruno Legenfelder: Dr. Rudolf Graber as a secondary school teacher in Neumarkt in the Upper Palatinate. In: Karl Hausberger, 2005, p. 250.
  5. Emmeram H. Ritter: Called and Chosen. In memory of Bishop Dr. Rudolf Graber . Regensburg 1992. , p. 10.
  6. Emmeram H. Ritter: Called and Chosen. In memory of Bishop Dr. Rudolf Graber . Regensburg 1992. , p. 11.
  7. a b c Ernst Klee : The dictionary of persons on the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. 2nd, updated edition, Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 195.
  8. a b Neudeutschland-Älterenbund (Ed.), Werkblätter, 6th year, issue 9/10, 1933/1934, p. 241.
  9. ^ Paul Mai, In memoriam Prof. Dr. Dr. hc Rudolf Graber, in: Negotiations of the Historical Association of Upper Palatinate and Regensburg, 132/1992, pp. 255-258.
  10. Ludwig Brandl, Die Bischöflich Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Eichstätt, in: Dominik Burkhard, Katholische Theologie im Nationalsozialismus, Vol. 1, 2007, p. 582.
  11. Joseph Ratzinger: From my life , DTV Munich 1998, p. 153.
  12. Guardian Angel Brotherhood Innsbruck: Introduction to the meaning and goal of the priestly community. Rituals of the Opus Sanctorum Angelorum, Innsbruck 1970, p. 61
  13. Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauung questions : Materialdienst 12/1990, p. 363
  14. ^ PM Zulehner, dowry. Ostfildern 2014. p. 32f.
  15. Emmeram H. Ritter: Called and Chosen. In memory of Bishop Dr. Rudolf Graber . Regensburg 1992.
  16. Rudolf Graber in the Munzinger Archive , accessed on August 11, 2011 ( beginning of article freely accessible)
  17. ^ Christian Feldmann, Pope Benedict XVI., 2006, p. 60.
  18. a b Rudolf Graber: Sermon of October 3, 1962, in: Domkapitel Regensburg (Hrsg.): Verkünde das Wort - Sermons, Speeches, Lectures, 1968, p. 110.
  19. ^ Letter from Nathan Peter Levinson (regional rabbi of Baden) to the board of the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation Munich eV, dated March 15, 1967 (Münchner Stadtarchiv briefcase GCJZ 52)
  20. ^ Letter from the board of the DKR to the board of the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation eV Munich, Regensburg, Augsburg, dated May 17, 1967 (Münchner Stadtarchiv briefcase GCJZ 52)
  21. ^ Opinion from Rudolf Graber on the DKR letter (May 17, 1967) of May 26, 1967 (Münchner Stadtarchiv briefcase GCJZ 52)
  22. Andreas Angerstorfer: The long dispute - The southern Bavarian societies Augsburg - Munich - Regensburg and the "Degendorfer Gnad", in: GCJZ (Hrsg.): 50 Years Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation (GCJZ), 1998, p. 73.
  23. Manfred Eder: The "Deggendorfer Gnad", Deggendorf 1992, p. 700.
  24. Blond und blau , in: Der Spiegel (24) 1969.
  25. Werner Trutwin (Ed.), Theologisches Forum, Issue 7, 1971, pp. 36–37.
  26. Georg Denzler, Theologische Wissenschaft im “Third Reich”, 2000, p. 24.
  27. RJ Werner: Comments on historical theological opportunism in Rudolf Graber , 2011, o. P.
  28. The Church of Regensburg commemorates Bishop Dr. Rudolf Grabers - “incorruptible against the apparent omnipotence of the zeitgeist” ( memento from July 20, 2012 in the web archive ), accessed at
  29. ^ Joseph Ratzinger, Sermon on the occasion of Rudolf Graber's 60th jubilee as a priest, August 3, 1986, p. 3.
predecessor Office successor
Michael Buchberger Bishop of Regensburg
Manfred Mueller