Bernardus Johannes Alfrink

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His Eminence

Bernardus Johannes Alfrink
Cardinal, Archbishop of Utrecht
Primate of the Netherlands
Kardinaal Alfrink.JPG
Church Latin Church
Archdiocese Utrecht
Installed31 October 1955
Term ended6 December 1975
Predecessor Johannes de Jong
Successor Johannes Willebrands
Ordination15 August 1924
Consecration17 July 1951
Created cardinal28 March 1960
Rank Cardinal Priest
Personal details
Born5 July 1900
Nijkerk, Netherlands
Died17 December 1987 (1987-12-18) (aged 87)
Nieuwegein, Netherlands
Buried Saint Catherine's Cathedral, Utrecht, Netherlands
DenominationRoman Catholic

Bernardus Johannes Alfrink (5 July 1900, Nijkerk, Gelderland – 17 December 1987, Nieuwegein Utrecht) was a Dutch Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Utrecht from 1955-75, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1960. [1]



Coat of arms of cardinal Bernardus Alfrink. Coat of arms of Bernardus Johannes Alfrink.svg
Coat of arms of cardinal Bernardus Alfrink.

Born in Nijkerk, Bernardus Johannes Alfrink was the youngest son of Theodorus Johannes Alfrink and his wife, Elisabeth Catharina Ossenvoort. His mother died in 1901 at the birth of his two younger twin sisters (both of whom also died after a few months), after which Bernardus was cared for by a childless aunt from neighboring Barneveld for the next three years. The priest who baptized him was Father Johannes Verstege. Alfrink received his first Communion in 1911.

After attending the minor seminary in Culemborg, he enrolled in the seminary at Rijsenburg, and, eventually attended the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood on 15 August 1924 by Archbishop Henricus van de Wetering. He completed his studies at the École Biblique in Jerusalem in 1930, the same year he was appointed chaplain in Maarssen. He also did pastoral work in Utrecht until 1933. Alfrink taught at the Seminary of Rijsenburg (1933–1945) and later the Catholic University of Nijmegen (1945–51).

On 28 May 1951, he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Utrecht and Titular Archbishop of Tyana. Alfrink received his episcopal consecration on the following 17 July from Archbishop Paolo Giobbe, papal internuncio in The Hague, with Bishops Willem Lemmens and Jan Smit serving as co-consecrators, in Saint Catherine's Cathedral.

Alfrink succeeded Cardinal Johannes de Jong as Archbishop of Utrecht on 31 October 1955 and was named Apostolic vicar of the Catholic Military vicariate of the Netherlands on 16 April 1957. He contributed to scientific publications, led the Pax Christi movement in the Netherlands, and was created Cardinal-Priest of San Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello by Pope John XXIII in the consistory of 28 March 1960.

From 1962-65, the Dutch primate participated at the Second Vatican Council, and sat on its Board of Presidency. During one session of the Council, Alfrink had Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani's microphone turned off after the latter exceeded his time limit. [2]

Alfrink was one of the cardinal electors in the 1963 papal conclave, which selected Pope Paul VI. Along with Cardinal Giovanni Colombo, he assisted Cardinal Achille Liénart in delivering one of the closing messages of the Council on 8 December 1965. [3]

He served as President of the Episcopal Conference of the Netherlands. Resigning as Utrecht's archbishop on 6 December 1975, he later voted in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II respectively. During the last years of his life, Alfrink lived, with his housekeeper Dora, in a bungalow at Dijnselburg near Huis ter Heide. The bungalow was called "Dora et Labora" by the Cardinal. It was specifically designed for him. He reappeared in public when Pope John Paul II visited the cardinal in 1985 during a papal visit to Benelux.[ citation needed ]

Bernardus Johannes Cardinal Alfrink died in Nieuwegein at age 87, and after his funeral services in St. Catharine's Cathedral, was buried at St. Barbara's cemetery, next to his predecessor.[ citation needed ]



Viewed by some as a "liberal", [4] the Cardinal once said, "It is always a good thing for the Church to move forward. It is not good if the Church comes to a standstill." [5]

Edward Schillebeeckx

Nijmegen's Dominican theologian Edward Schillebeeckx was Alfrink's regular advisor. Alfrink supported Schillebeeckx and took the latter's condemnation [ clarification needed ] as an offence to the Catholic Church in the Netherlands.[ citation needed ]

Royal conversion

Alfrink refused to respond to the Dutch Reformed Church's call for clarification in regards to Princess Irene's conversion to Catholicism in connection with her intended marriage to Carlos Hugo of Bourbon-Parma.[ citation needed ]

Awards and honors

In 1986, Alfrink received the Four Freedom Award for the Freedom of Worship. [6]

Alfrink's bibliography

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  1. "Alfrink, Bernard Jan Cardinal". Who Was Who in America, 1993–1996, vol. 11 . New Providence, N.J.: Marquis Who's Who. 1996. p.  4. ISBN   0837902258.
  2. "What Went Wrong With Vatican II". Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  3. "To Rulers". Archived from the original on 3 April 2007.
  4. "Council of Renewal". 5 October 1962. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  5. "The Radical, Revolutionary Church of The Netherlands". 31 March 1967. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 25 March 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Pietro Doimo Munzani
Titular Archbishop of Tyana
28 May 1951 – 31 October 1955
Succeeded by
Primo Principi
Preceded by
Johannes de Jong
Archbishop of Utrecht
31 October 1955 – 6 December 1975
Succeeded by
Johannes Willebrands
New title Apostolic vicar of the Military vicariate of the Netherlands
New title Cardinal Priest of San Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello
28 March 1960 – 17 December 1987
Succeeded by
Michele Giordano
Preceded by
Maurice Feltin
International President of Pax Christi
Succeeded by
Luigi Bettazzi