Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Köln (Germany), was born on 25 December 1933 in Breslau, Silesia, Germany (present-day Wroclaw, Poland).
Having entered the seminary of Erfurt, he received a doctorate in theology. He was ordained a priest on 22 December 1962 and was made co-pastor of St. Giles Parish, Heiligenstadt and of Holy Cross, Erfurt. He was also the diocesan director of Caritas.
On 17 March 1975 he was elected titular Bishop of Vina and Auxiliary to Mons. Hugo Aufderbeck, Apostolic Administrator of Erfurt, East Germany. He was consecrated on 17 May 1975.
As Auxiliary Bishop of Erfurt, he signed the first agreement between Church and State based on the Democratic German Republic’s Constitution of 1963.
In December 1976, the members of the Bishops’ Conference of Berlin elected him as their representative to the Fourth Synod of Bishops, held at the Vatican in 1977.
In Rome, he once again met Cardinal Wojtyła, whom he had come to know two years previously. In 1975 the Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Wojtyła, had taken part in a pilgrimage of Catholics from Thuringia and Eichsfeld to Erfurt. On this occasion he heard the homily of the Auxiliary Bishop of Erfurt, which expressed the theme of the pilgrimage: Spiritual renewal to change the world.
Intense and fruitful in his work within the territory of the apostolic administration permanenter constituta of Erfurt-Meiningen, on 22 April 1980 John Paul II appointed him Bishop of Berlin. A particular diocese, which consisted of the eastern and western parts of the city, including the surrounding countryside scattered with small parishes and communities.
He was also President of the Bishops’ Conference of Berlin, 1982-1989.
On 20 December 1988 he was promoted to Metropolitan Archbishop of Köln (Cologne).
Archbishop emeritus of Köln, 28 February 2014.
President Delegate of the Second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops (1-23 October 1999).
He was a Member of the Council of Cardinals for the Study of Organizational and Economic Affairs of the Holy See.
He participated in the conclave of April 2005, which elected Pope Benedict XVI and in the conclave of March 2013, which elected Pope Francis.
Created an proclaimed Cardinal by St. John Paul II in the consistory of 2 February 1983, of the Title of S. Pudenziana (St. Pudenziana).
Dead on 5 July 2017