Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

"You Will Be Called Repairer of the Breach": The Diary of J. G. M. Willebrands, 1958-1961

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

"You Will Be Called Repairer of the Breach": The Diary of J. G. M. Willebrands, 1958-1961

Article excerpt

"You will be called Repairer of the Breach": The Diary of J. G. M. Willebrands, 1958-1961. Edited by Theo Salemink. (Leuven: Maurits Sabbebibliotheek Faculteit Godgeleerdheid, Uitgeverij Pee ter s. 2009. Pp. viii, 450 [includes Annex: The original Dutch text]. euro44,00 paperback. ISBN 978-9-042-92257-0).

This diary and another volume, Les Agendas Conciliares de Mgr J. Willebrands (annotated French translation by Leo Declerck, Leuven, 2009) that covers 1963-65, were discovered almost by chance in 2005. The diary covers the periods July 1958 to September 1959, May I960 to August I960, and September I960 to March 1961. Starting with Willebrands s appointment on August 1, 1958, as episcopal delegate for ecumenical affairs for the Dutch Bishops' Conference (the first to hold that position for a bishops' conference), it runs, with considerable gaps, through the first months of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity (SPCU, created by Pope John XXIII on June 5, I960) when early preparations for the Second Vatican Council were taking place. Salemink' s helpful introduction, "Willebrands the Ecumenist 1958-61," and critical annotations identifying the many individuals or events mentioned but not identified by Willebrands are indispensable for appreciating the diary.

Since 1952 Willebrands (1909-2006) had promoted the Catholic Conference for Ecumenical Questions (CCEQ), bringing theologians and bishops together for ecumenical study, developing contacts with the World Council of Churches (WCC) on theological matters, and continually reporting developments to well-placed persons in Rome such as Father Augustine Bea and Roman authorities such as Cardinals Alfredo Ottaviani and Eugène Tisserant. He asked permission of Ottaviani before proceeding with certain initiatives. The diary shows levels of trust developing in these relationships. It shows the intensity of Willebrands' s contacts with the WCC, with entries (usually several) about WCC for every month from August 1958 to July 1959, references to meetings with General Secretary Willem Visser 't Hooft in seven of those twelve months, and entries in nine of the twelve months relating to CCEQ s work supporting the WCC study-project Lordship of Christ. …

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