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Benedict XVI: Cardinal Meisner was a ‘passionate shepherd’ who found it ‘difficult to leave his post’

Pope Benedict XVI (R) talks to Cologne's Archbishop Joachim Meisner on 18 August 2005 (Getty Images)

Benedict XVI has described Cardinal Joachim Meisner as a “passionate shepherd and pastor” in a message read out at the cardinal’s funeral today.

The note (full text) says the cardinal found it “difficult to leave his post”, adding that the Church is in “particularly pressing need of convincing shepherds who can resist the dictatorship of the Zeitgeist” and who “live and think the faith with determination”.

He also likened the Church to a boat that has at times “taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing”.

The former pontiff said he had spoken with Cardinal Meisner over the phone the day before he died. The cardinal had expressed “gratitude” that he was now on vacation after having attended the beatification of Bishop Teofilius Matulionis in Vilnius.