Around the mid-6th century, the clergy of the Trier Cathedral Church joined to make a special college of priests; in the 9 th century, it took the reforms of Chrodegang of Metz with the commitment to a vita communis, a communal life. This Cathedral chapter had numerous members. During the High Middle Ages, the number of Cathedral canons was gradually reduced from 60 to 40 and finally to 16 in 1445. In addition, there were the Cathedral adminstrator of provisions (candidate for a canon's position), eight Cathedral vicars as representatives, up to twelve benefice posts for services in the annex church, the Church of Our Lady, as well as a number of (the last number: 16) chaplains (altarists) and chaplains (capellani) for the liturgy at the side altars or in the chapels of the Cathedral respectively. In 1289, the custom of having only members of the nobility in the Cathedral chapter became an established rule. Beginning about 1300, at least the consecration of deacons was required; only a few had to be priests, for example, the Cathedral Dean and the Cathedral Cantor, both of whom were strictly obliged to live in the Cathedral city. However, upt to the Early Modern Era, not all of these demands were fulfilled completely. Where the right of approval by the Cathedral chapter was conerned, the situation in Trier did not differ at all from the other German (arch)dioceses. The Cathedral chapter today is a body of diocese clergy composed of consecrated priests or bishops. Its present personnel and tasks are based essentially on the papal bull (decree) concerning the Prussian dioceses, "De salute animarum," from July 16, 1821, approved by the then Prussian King. The most important stipulations of this bull entered into the so-called Prussian Concordat from 1929, an agreement between Chruch and State.
|Cathedral Chapter Coat of Arms|
Installed on July 25, 1824, the Cathedral chapter consisted and consists of the Cathedral Provost as well as the Cathedral Dean – also called dignitaries or prelates – eight resident Cathedral canons, four non-resident Cathedral canons (initially called “honorary canons”) in active (parish) pastoral care in the diocese, and six Cathedral vicars. The Cathedral provost is supervisor of all those employed in the Cathedral (for example, Cathedral music director, Cathedral organist); he lives near the Cathedral (Domfreihof 4) in the official residence of the Cathedral Provost.
The Cathedral chapter as an independent corporate body functioning according to public law is responsible for the administration of the Cathedral, the preservation and maintenance of the structures belonging to it (for example, the clergy houses); it is also responsible for conducting worship services on Sundays, holidays, and weekdays, for advising the leadership and administration of the diocese. It functions as a consulting body during a vacancy of the bishop’s chair and, finally – its primary task – elects a new bishop. The residing members of the Cathedral chapter secretly elect the Cathedral Provost from their members, who is then confirmed by the bishop; the Cathedral Dean, however, is appointed by the bishop from the residing members of the Cathedral chapter after consultation with the Cathedral chapter. The Cathedral canons are named alternately by the bishop after consultation with the Cathedral chapter or by the Cathedral chapter itself. The Cathedral vicars are named by the bishop after consultation with the Cathedral chapter.
The position of Cathedral canon expires through death or resignation. Normally the members of the Cathedral chapter resign their position when they have completed their 75th year. Retired members retain the right to wear a Cathedral canon’s clothing as well as the chapter’s cross.
The Trier Cathedral chapter has played an eminently important partner role for the bishop and the diocese leadership in turbulent times for the Church (“Trier Chaos” and the conflict between the Prussian government and the Catholic Church in the 19th century, during the Nazi era and the question of the Saar area in the 20th century). Its significance also emerged in a special way during the Holy Robe exhibitions in 1810, 1844, 1891, 1933, 1959, and 1996. In its session on June 26, 1995, the Cathedral chapter decided upon new statutes, which were confirmed by the Bishop of Trier on June 29, 1995.
The members of the Cathedral chapter
(Status: October 2011)
Cathedral Provost: Prelate Werner Rössel
Cathedral Dean: Prelate Franz Josef Gebert
Resident Cathedral canons:
Prelate Dr. Rainer Scherschel
Prelate Dr. Klaus Peters
Auxiliary Bishop Robert Brahm
Auxiliary Bishop Jörg Michael Peters
Prelate Dr.Georg Holkenbrink
The Reverend Father Hans Wilhelm Ehlen
Dr. Reinhold Bohlen, Professor
Vicar General Monsignor Dr. Georg Bätzing
Non-resident Cathedral canons:
The Reverend Father Klemens Hombach, Linz
The Reverend Father Eugen Vogt, Coblenz
The Reverend Father Hermann Engel, Coblenz
The Reverend Father Karl Kneißl, Bleialf
Cardinal Dr. Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich
Fernand Franck, Archbishop Emeritus of Luxembourg
Dr. Felix Genn, Bishop of Münster
The Reverend Father Dr. Engelbert Felten
The Reverend Father Frank Kleinjohann
Monsignor Dr. Michael Kneib
The Reverend Father Dr. Martin Lörsch
The Reverend Father Dr. Markus Nicolay
Text: Prelate Hermann Josef Leininger, Cathedral Provost (ret.)
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