Josef Cardinal Höffner is still remembered by many as the Bishop of Münster (1962–1969), the Archbishop of Cologne (1969–1987), and the Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference
(1976–1987). Yet few are likely to be aware of his great importance as a Christian social scientist.
When the time came, in 1945, to revive Social Catholicism and achieve workable social legislation for the young Federal Republic that would point the way to the future, Höffner was virtually the only
theologian who brought economic qualifications to the discussion. Following his theological studies and initial pastoral experiences, Höffner had studied political science and economics. In 1939, he
graduated as Doctor of Economics and Social Sciences (Dr.rer.pol.) under Walter Eucken.
After 1949, Höffner became one of the key figures in the Bund Katholischer Unternehmer (League of Catholic Entrepreneurs). He became head of the section for social affairs
in the Central Committee of German Catholics and a sought-after counselor for bishops, politicians, trade associations, and unions. From 1953, Höffner belonged to the »scholarly advisory councils«
for three federal ministries (labor, family, and housing construction). In 1955, Adenauer appointed him one of the subject matter experts who prepared the Rothenfelser Denkschrift on the reform of
social services. Höffner also made a key contribution to the Schreiber Plan, which provided the foundation for pension reform in 1957. The experiences he acquired in these years gave him
additional authority in his later actions as a bishop during the upheaval processes in 1968 and beyond.