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Religion

Cardinal Reinhard Marx voted as new head of German Bishops Conference

Munich Archbishop Reinhard Marx has been voted to head the German Bishops Conference. He is one of the most influential figures in the German Catholic Church.

Marx said he saw his nomination Wednesday as a great challenge, adding that he'd have to "pull back in the next few days and collect my thoughts."

His new role as head of the German Bishops Conference is in addition to his duties as the coordinator of Pope Francis's newly-established Vatican economic council and participation in the pontiff's council of cardinals.

At the gathering of the bishops in the German city of Münster, Marx was elected after five rounds of voting.

The 60-year-old archbishop succeeds Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, who stepped down at the age of 75 – the age under church law when a bishop can offer to leave office.

Despite his growing list of titles, Marx denied that he was a "collector" of church posts and ruled out that he would give any of them up.

He said as the head of the German Bishops Conference he wants help make the voice of the Catholic Church in Germany heard once again.

"We have new momentum, and that has to grow," Marx said.

Marx's archdiocese of Munich and Freising is one of the richest and largest in Germany. Reinhard Marx, seen as ambitious and outspoken, is said to have a close relationship with Pope Francis.

He studied Theology in Germany and France and in an interview with Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung recently, he confessed to having a weakness for red wine and cigars - and to being a fan of the Borussia Dortmund football club, which is the main domestic rival to Bayern Munich.

mz/rg (epd, DPA, KNA)

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