Notker Wolf was temporarily the highest Benedictine in Rome. He was a rock musician in a monk’s habit, a guest on talk shows. He wrote books and had strong opinions. Wolf died unexpectedly on April 3rd at the age of 83. His St. Ottilien Abbey in the Landsberg am Lech district said he was on his way back from a pilgrimage to Italy.

On the occasion of his death, we are publishing an interview with Notker Wolf from the stern archive, which first appeared in April 2012. At the time, the then 71-year-old was first abbot of the monastery of Sant’Anselmo in Rome and professor of natural philosophy and philosophy of science at the Pontifical Benedictine University in Rome. As abbot primate, he looked after the order’s 24,000 monks and nuns in over 840 monasteries around the world.

Mr. Abbot Primate, your room looks like a messy living room. We imagined the world headquarters of the Benedictine Order to be completely different… This is my living room. I would feel uncomfortable in a lavish boardroom. Representation is defined in good dealings with other people. To tie it to external appearances means impoverishment.

Is there a management rule that you follow? Saint Benedict formulates some beautiful advice for leadership positions: The abbot knows that he should help more than rule. Let him not be so stormy and not fearful, not excessive and not narrow-minded, not jealous and too suspicious, otherwise he will never find peace. Wonderful!

When we asked you for an appointment for this conversation many weeks ago, we received an email from you. It says: “I’m currently in India, then in South Africa, then back in Rome…” What kind of hectic monastic life do you lead? Sometimes I find that too. But I keep my inner peace. Otherwise I would go crazy.

What have you observed on your travels? The world is out of balance. We are faced with the decision of whether, metaphorically speaking, we continue to race along a highway that is leading to the destruction of our livelihoods, or whether we take the next exit, turn around and rethink our lifestyle.

Access to all STERN PLUS content and articles from the print magazine


Already registered?