German Cardinal Woelki wants to stay archbishop, calls pope ‘old man’

German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki is calling for a fresh start in Cologne, Germany’s largest Catholic archdiocese, but raised eyebrows after describing the pope as an “old man.”

The cardinal wants to remain archbishop, but is placing his fate in the hands of the pope, Woelki told a closed diocesan pastoral council meeting in the city of Dusseldorf.

Woelki’s references to the pope caused some consternation among the 60 attendees on Friday and Saturday.

He described Pope Francis as “old” and “out of touch with reality,” several members told dpa.

An archdiocese spokesperson said that while Woelki had used the phrase “old man” to describe the pope, who is 85, this was in no way meant to be disrespectful.

One participant said of Woelki, “We experienced an honest, authentic bishop.”

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