Leo Scheffczyk (21 February 1920 in Beuthen O.S. – 8 December 2005 in Munich) was a German cardinal and theologian. He was a long-time theologian at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and one of the strongest advocates for orthodoxy during the long pontificate of John Paul II. During the 1980s and 1990s, he severely criticized some of his former students, e.g. Leonardo Boff, who advocated a Marxist version of liberation theology. Scheffczyk likely played a major role in drafting the most controversial documents, such as Ordinatio sacerdotalis and Ad tuendam fidem.[2] He was made a cardinal in 2001. He was regarded as an important thinker in late twentieth-century Catholicism.

His Eminence

Leo Scheffczyck
Appointed21 February 2001
Other postsCardinal-Deacon of San Francesco Saverio alla Garbatella
Ordination29 June 1947
Created cardinal21 February 2001
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Birth nameLeo Scheffczyk
Born(1920-02-21)21 February 1920
Beuthen, Germany
Died(2005-12-08)8 December 2005
Munich, Germany
DenominationRoman Catholic
MottoEvangelizare investigabiles divitias Christi[1]
Coat of armsLeo Scheffczyck's coat of arms
Coat of arms

Life and careerEdit

He was born in the city of Beuthen, today Bytom, Poland. He studied during World War II at the famous theological department of the University of Breslau. He moved afterwards to the University of Munich. Scheffczyk was ordained as a priest for the Archdiocese of Munich on 29 June 1947.

Immediately, Scheffczyk took to theological work and within a year of his ordination he was already a Theology professor at the seminary in Königstein im Taunus. He later moved to the more prestigious university at Tübingen. During that time his theological knowledge was already immensely appreciated by his students, including such notables as Walter Kasper. Whilst he was immensely knowledgeable on such subjects as the Virgin Mary, Scheffczyk was not then considered a likely choice for a promotion into the papal curia. Unlike such theologians as Yves Congar, he remained remote from the proceedings of Vatican II, though he undoubtedly understood its thought very well.

His return to the University of Munich in 1965 coincided with long periods of writing on various theological topics.

After 1978, Scheffczyk became a monsignor. Though still focusing on writing theology, he did an increasing amount of work in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, often being consulted by Ratzinger as the Congregation devoted itself to settling theological questions. However, Scheffczyk never apparently had any desire to become a public figure.[3]


John Paul II, responding to requests made, among others, by Cardinals Ratzinger[4] and Dulles,[citation needed] appointed Scheffczyk a cardinal on 21 February 2001. The title attributed to him was Cardinal-Deacon of San Francesco Saverio alla Garbatella. Given his age, Scheffczyk asked for a dispensation not to be consecrated a bishop (as required by modern canonical law).


Scheffczyk was a Mariologist of vast scope, and shown in his role as co-editor and major contributor to the Marienlexikon,[5] a work which totals some 4000 pages. In his article on Mariology at the Second Vatican Council, he asserts that in pursuing the goal of unity among Christians, though this was legitimate, nevertheless Marian beliefs and devotions had been understated by some representatives of the Catholic Church. In his view this was the case with the final chapter of the Vatican II Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, dealing with the Virgin Mary. For Scheffczyk, in this Marian chapter: "The coldness and reserve of this document can be explained, as it is openly admitted, by its showing consideration for ecumenical dialogues especially with Protestants. Though justifiable, this method's success should not be overrated and does not prevent theology from saying more."[6] He disagreed with those who considered the document as failing to satisfy conservatives, liberals, Orthodox and Protestants, stating that the document contains tangible elements for a mariological bridging of positions, though he concludes that such as result had to date not been achieved.[6] He regretted, however, that:

The decisive fundamental affirmations (on Mary) are compromises, which narrow the richness of the existing faith and open the way to divergent interpretations, such as the accusation that the Council eliminated the Mediatrix teachings.[7]


  1. ^ Ephesians 3:8 KJV.NVUL.LU.EU: preach the unsearchable riches of Christ · Latin: evangelizare investigabiles divitias Christi · German: mit dem Evangelium den unergründlichen Reichtum Christi verkünden
  2. ^ Allen, John L. (Jr.); Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith; page 186; published 2000 by Continuum International Publishing Group
  3. ^ Allen, p. 45-47.
  4. ^ Extract from November 2006 interview with Pope Benedict XVI, on the web here Archived 2007-10-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Remigius Bäumer & Leo Scheffczyk (edd.), Marienlexikon, Institutum Marianum Regensburg, Gesamtausgabe 1994, ISBN 3-88096-891-8
  6. ^ a b Leo Cardinal Scheffczyk, Vaticanum II, in Marienlexikon, 571
  7. ^ Leo Cardinal Scheffczyk, Vaticanum II, in Marienlexikon,570

External linksEdit