Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review
Les Agendas Conciliaires De Mgr J. Willebrands, Secrétaire Du Secrétariat Pour l'Unité Des Chrétiens
Les agendas conciliaires de Mgr J. Willebrands, secrétaire du Secrétariat pour l'Unité des chrétiens. Translated into French by Leo Declerck. [Instrumenta Theologica, XXXL] (Leuven: Maurits Sabbebibliotheek, Faculteit Godgeleerdheid, and Peeters. 2009- Pp- xl, 284. euro38,00 paperback. ISBN 978-9-042-92217-4.)
The role of the Secretariat for Christian Unity at the Second Vatican Council, notwithstanding the fact that it was a small and new organism created only at the start of the Council's preparatory period on June 5, I960, was one of considerable importance. The influence it exercised is owed largely to the competence and activities of its secretary, Monsignor (later Cardinal) Johannes Willebrands from the Netherlands (1909-2006). Willebrands, familiar with ecumenical matters because of his roles as president of the Dutch St. Willibrord Association and secretary of the Catholic Conference for Ecumenical Questions, played a key role in the redaction of draft texts that resulted into several Council documents (JJnitatis redintegratio, Nostra aetate, Dignitatis humanae, Dei Verbum) still considered as landmark documents of the Second Vatican Council, particularly those regarded as the Council's most innovative products. The current publication of Willebrands's conciliar agendas offers important information regarding the redaction of these very schemata. Certainly, on many occasions the agendas contain no more than sparse and cryptic notes, offering readers merely some factual insight into the secretary's daily activities: his encounters, contacts, and many meetings. Yet there are important details regarding dates, meeting participants, and so forth, providing testimony to the ecumenical work done on a daily basis.
The book features the elaborate array of contacts that Willebrands maintained, including the World Council of Churches at Geneva; oriental churches, particularly the patriarchates of Constantinople and Jerusalem; Orthodox churches behind the Iron Curtain; La Petite Église; and non-Catholic observers, particularly the Anglican and Methodist representatives at the Council. Willebrands's efforts to develop and nourish these contacts were nothing short of impressive. …