Dutch cardinal and former archbishop of Utrecht, Adrianus Simonis, died Wednesday at age 88. His successor, Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, praised him as a man "with a great pastoral heart".
Simonis led the archdiocese of Utrecht from 1983 to 2007, during which time he was president of the Dutch Bishops' Conference for more than 20 years.
From Pope John Paul II. appointed cardinal
Simonis was the eldest of eleven children in a dentist's family and grew up in Lisse in the center of the Dutch flower bulb industry. He completed a seven-year degree in biblical studies at the Pontifical University in 1966 with a dissertation on the Gospel of John.
In 1970, Pope Paul VI appointed. Simonis to bishop of Rotterdam; in 1983, Pope John Paul II conferred. him the responsibility for the archdiocese of Utrecht. John Paul II. also accepted him into the College of Cardinals a few days after his visit to the Netherlands in May 1985. After many liberalizations in the 1970s, Simonis was to lead the Dutch church back to a course loyal to Rome.
President of the Bishops' Conference
As a bishop and chairman of the Bishops' Conference, he took sides against political developments such as the legalization of active euthanasia, liberalization of abortion, allowing civil marriages for same-sex couples and the reduction of rights for asylum seekers.
In the abuse scandal, Simonis also came under criticism, among other things because he had reassigned a priest with a relevant conviction to pastoral care following positive psychological reports. After the man relapsed, Simonis admitted he had been too trusting. He was later accused of perjury and cover-up, but the prosecution's investigation was dropped.