The Vatican has blocked the appointment of a prominent lay theologian and businessman as chief executive of Germany's Catholic University of Eichstatt.
The pontifical university announced Friday that the Vatican which has a veto over such appointments had refused to approve the appointment of Ulrich Hemel, 51, the Earthtimes reports.
Hemel was chosen by senior professors as president to run the college, which has 4,500 students but opposition to his appointment had held up the clearance from the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.
However, the university has not been told who objected to Hemel or why.
The disclosure has set off speculation that Pope Benedict, who formerly taught theology at Hemel's current school, the University of Regensberg, was personally opposed.
As Joseph Ratzinger, the current pope was a key force in establishing Eichstaett University in 1980.
The university belongs to the church, but is funded by the Bavarian government. It has a second campus at Ingolstadt. Hemel was selected in a 12-4 vote by the university board as president in late January and was to have begun the job on April 1.
His undergraduate career at the University of Mainz in Germany and in Rome spanned theology, business administration, sociology, philosophy and languages and he did doctoral and professorial studies at Regensburg where he is now extraordinary professor of theology.
Hemel, who has three children, has also worked since 1991 as a turnaround consultant at failing businesses.
Vatican blocks appointment of German university chief (Earth Times, 13/4/08)
Catholic University of Eichstatt (Wikipedia)