Adrianus Johannes Simonis

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Adrianus Johannes Simonis
Simonis in 1982
Installed3 December 1983
Term ended14 April 2007
PredecessorJohannes Willebrands
SuccessorWim Eijk
Other post(s)Cardinal Priest of San Clemente
Ordination15 June 1957
by Martien Antoon Jansen
Consecration20 March 1971
by Bernardus Johannes Alfrink
Created cardinal25 May 1985
by John Paul II
RankCardinal priest
Personal details
Born(1931-11-26)26 November 1931
Lisse, Netherlands
Died2 September 2020(2020-09-02) (aged 88)
Voorhout, Netherlands
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post(s)
MottoUt cognoscant te
('So that they may know you')
Ordination history of
Adrianus Johannes Simonis
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byBernardus Johannes Alfrink (Utrecht)
Date20 March 1971
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Adrianus Johannes Simonis as principal consecrator
Philippe Bär20 March 1982
Frans Wiertz25 September 1993
Ad van Luyn12 February 1994
Wim Eijk6 November 1999
Gerard de Korte2 June 2001
Styles of
Adrianus Johannes Simonis
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Adrianus Johannes Simonis (26 November 1931 – 2 September 2020) was a Dutch cardinal of the Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Utrecht from 1983 to 2007, and was made a cardinal in 1985.


Simonis was born in Lisse, South Holland, the second eldest of eleven children. He studied at the Seminary of Hageveld from 1945 to 1951, and at the Major Seminary, Warmond, from 1951 to 1957. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Martien Jansen on 15 June 1957, and then did pastoral work in the Diocese of Rotterdam until 1959, serving as curate at the parish of Saint Victor in Waddinxveen and later at the parish Holy Martyrs Gorinchem in Rotterdam.

From 1959 to 1966, he furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) and the Pontifical Biblical Institute, from where he obtained a doctorate cum laude in biblical exegesis with a thesis entitled: "Jesus as the Good Shepherd in the Gospel of Saint John". Following his return to the Netherlands, he served as pastor of the parish of Blessed Sacrament in The Hague (1966–1970) and chaplain in the Red Cross Hospital. He became a canon of the cathedral chapter of Rotterdam in March 1969.

He was associated with the conservative side of the Dutch church, which was very divided in the years following the Second Vatican Council. He later disputed the label, telling an interviewer: "They say 'conservative', but I say with Saint Paul: 'Test all things; hold fast what is good'. In that sense I am conservative."[1] Pope Paul VI named him Bishop of Rotterdam on 29 December 1970, at the age of 39.[2]

Pope John Paul II appointed Simonis Archbishop Coadjutor of Utrecht on 27 June 1983[3] and he succeeded as archbishop there upon the resignation of Cardinal Johannes Willebrands on 3 December 1983. On 6 December he was made a member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.[4]

A former president of the Dutch Bishops' Conference, Simonis was a major supporter of Pope John Paul's visit to the Netherlands in 1985.

He was elevated to the College of Cardinals during the consistory of 25 May 1985, as Cardinal-Priest of the Basilica of San Clemente,[5] making him the seventh cardinal of the Dutch Church. He was a member of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and of the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. He held these memberships until his 80th birthday on 26 November 2011.

Simonis was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.[6]

Simonis sent his letter of resignation as Archbishop of Utrecht to Pope Benedict on 13 November 2006, and the Pope accepted it on 14 April 2007, two months before Simonis celebrated his golden jubilee as a priest on 15 June. Simonis continued to govern the archdiocese as Apostolic Administrator until his successor, Wim Eijk, who was appointed on 11 December of the same year, took possession of the see on 28 January 2008.

Simonis died on 2 September 2020 at a care centre in Voorhout.[7]


In 2011, Simonis testified on 25 January that he had no role in the appointment or dismissal of a Catholic priest accused of drugging and raping a young man. The brief appearance by Simonis at Middelburg District Court marked the first time such a senior cleric had appeared in a Dutch courtroom to answer questions about abuse in the church. The victim, Dave ten Hoor, says he was drugged and raped twice by the priest, identified only as Father Jan N., in 1989 and 1990 in the southern town of Terneuzen. "I do not know him at all," Simonis said of Father Jan, adding that he had nothing to do with his appointment as a priest in Terneuzen. Simonis was drawn into the case because before moving to Terneuzen, Father Jan also allegedly abused children at a youth centre run by the Salesian order in Rijswijk, a town just outside The Hague. At the time, Simonis was Bishop of Rotterdam and Rijswijk fell within his diocese. However Simonis said he had visited the centre just once for a party and did not recall meeting the priest, though he did not rule out that he may have been introduced to him.[8]

According to Radio Netherlands World:

The cardinal was told by the then bishop of Rotterdam, Philippe Bär, that the priest had sexually abused underage boys in his parish in Zoetermeer. Bishop Bär wanted the priest out of his diocese. Archbishop Simonis then arranged for the man to be moved to a parish in Amersfoort.

The cardinal kept the Amersfoort parish in the dark about the priest's paedophile behaviour and convictions. The priest himself says the cardinal did nothing to monitor how the situation developed.

Parents who complained about the priest to Simonis were given no assistance. Hanneke Brunt, whose altar-boy son was abused: "Simonis told me – 'This doesn’t go on in the Roman Catholic Church. We don’t do that.'" Abuse victim Erwin Meester says Simonis "wilfully and knowingly gave a paedophile his protection, when he should have been protecting the faithful under his care".[9][10]

Simonis commented on the abuse in an interview on Pauw & Witteman. Speaking in German, he said: "Wir haben es nicht gewusst (We did not know)".[11] He says he dealt with all the cases of abuse that were brought to his attention "extremely carefully".[9]


  1. ^ Doorakkers, Peter (4 September 2020). "Dutch cardinal tried to hold Church together during turbulent times". Katholiek Nieuwsblad. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  2. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXIII. 1971. pp. 152–3. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  3. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXV Part I. 1983. p. 850. Retrieved 5 September 2020.
  4. ^ Acta Apostolicae Sedis (PDF). Vol. LXXVI. 1984. p. 69. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  5. ^ "Consistoro Unico" (in Italian). Libreria Editrice Vaticana. 25 May 1985. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Elenco degli Em.mi Cardinali che entrano in Conclave secondo il loro rispettivo ordine di precedenza (Vescovi, Presbiteri, Diaconi)" [List of the Eminent Cardinals entering into Conclave according to their respective order of precedence (Bishops, Priests, Deacons)]. Sala Stampa della Santa Sede (in Italian). 18 April 2005. Archived from the original on 9 March 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2005.
  7. ^ "Dutch Cardinal emeritus Adrianus Simonis dies at age 88". Crux. Associated Press. 3 September 2020. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ a b "Cardinal Ad Simonis accused of protecting abuser priest". BBC. 11 February 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  10. ^ "Archbishop Shielded Pedophile". The Hague Online. 21 February 2011. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  11. ^ "Cardinal Simonis witness in abuse case". RNW Media.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Martien Antoon Jansen
Bishop of Rotterdam
29 December 1970–27 June 1983
Succeeded by
Preceded by Archbishop of Utrecht
3 December 1983–14 April 2007
Succeeded by
Preceded by Cardinal-Priest of San Clemente
25 May 1985–2 September 2020