Cardinal Willebrands appointed Archbishop

UTRECHT, The Netherlands (NC) Pope Paul VI has appointed Cardinal Jan Willebrands, president of the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, to succeed Cardinal Bernard Alfrink, it was announced here.

The Dutch-born Cardinal Willebrands, who has been president of the Vatican secretariat since 1969, is to continue in that position.

Cardinal Alfrink, who has been archbishop of Utrecht since 1955 and a cardinal since 1960, has successfully mediated between seriously polarized groups of Dutch Catholics. He successfully conciliated opposing groups in the crises over the Dutch Catechism and the issue of priestly celibacy.

Nonetheless, all this does not help those, who feel that they are Ukrainian Catholics, who by virtue of their ignorance of the language, demand a Mass in the English language. Against an attitude of this type there appears to be no argument. The parish priest will certainly not oppose these people, because of the fear that the collection basket may not be as full as usual every Sunday; their fellow parishioners who know Ukrainian, do not always care, some of them as a matter of fact, think that it is more fashionable to have the liturgy in English than in Ukrainian. And thus, the Ukrainian liturgy, and with it the Ukrainian rite, the customs and traditions are gradually Americanized and Ukrainian faithful are drawn slowly but inexorably into the great Roman Catholic melting pot of America.

In assessing this situation, we are limiting ourselves to presenting one factor, which, in our opinion, is paramount in all these considerations. It appears to us that inherent in all the arguments in favor of an English language Liturgy in the Ukrainian Catholic Church, is an unadulterated element of antiintellectualism. It seems that for many Americans, it is almost a status symbol not to know another language, to be, in effect, a monolingual mammal, who speaks nothing but English, and that, at times rather poorly. It is indeed incomprehensible, why some of these people who are so eager to have an English language liturgy, don’t try to learn Ukrainian. Learning any language can be a worthwhile and an enriching experience; and learning a language to appreciate one’s spiritual heritage to a greater degree, must certainly be even more rewarding. It seems indeed inane, that in an age when America, having abandoned the outlived concept of the melting pot, and has finally began to place a tremendous importance on the various ethnic components that make up her national mosaic, we Ukrainians should relinquish our heritage and our language out of sheer, pure and simple laziness.

Johannes (Jan) Gerardus Maria Willebrands was born in the village of Bovenkarspel in the northwest Netherlands in the diocese of Haarlem on Sept. 4, 1909. He was the oldest son of Herman and Afra (Kok) Willebrands. His father was a businessman.

Pope John XXIII named him the first secretary of the newly established Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity in 1960.

Pope Paul VI ordained him a bishop in 1964 and created him a cardinal in 1969. In 1969, he was also named president of the unity secretariat, succeeding Cardinal Augustin Bea, the Jesuit scripture scholar, its first president who had died the year before.