Life with a Mission: Cardinal Willem Marinus Van Rossum C.Ss.R. (1854-1932)

By Pollard, John | The Catholic Historical Review, April 2013 | Go to article overview

Life with a Mission: Cardinal Willem Marinus Van Rossum C.Ss.R. (1854-1932)


Pollard, John, The Catholic Historical Review


Life with a Mission: Cardinal Willem Marinus van Rossum C.Ss.R. (1854-1932). Edited by Vefie Poels, Theo Salemink, and Hans de Valk. [Trajecta, Religie, cultuur en samenleving in de Nederlanden/Religion, Culture and Society in the Low Countries, 19-20.2010-2011.1-2.] (Nijmegen:Trajecta. 2011. Pp. 240. euro19,00 paperback. ISSN 0778-8304; ISBN 978-908-140-9810.)

Roughly a half a dozen non-Italians rose to the top of the Roman Curia in the first half of the twentieth century. One of them was Cardinal Willem Marinus van Rossum of the Netherlands. Born in 1854, van Rossum joined the Redemptorists twenty years later. Specializing in moral theology and canon law, he was called to Rome in 1895, working with Pietro Gasparri and Eugenio Pacelli on the codification of canon law between 1904 and 1917. In 1911, he was made a cardinal, and in 1915 he was appointed Grand Penitentiary, responsible for deciding such matters as the remission of grave sins as well as canonical censures such as excommunication, exemptions, and dispensa- tions. Three years later, he was made "red pope," prefect of the missionary Congregation of De Propaganda Fide. He died in 1932.

These essays/articles are the first steps toward a definitive biography of van Rossum. Joop Vernojji and Otto S. Lankhorst provide accounts of his early life, and Eric Corsius discusses the influence of the Redemptorists' theologi- cal tradition on him. An evaluation of van Rossum's role in the campaign against modernism during the pontificate of Pius X is offered by Otto Weiss, and his contribution to the codification of canon law is assessed by Anna Luisa Casiraghi. Especially useful are the essays on various aspects of van Rossum's fourteen-year stint at Propaganda, his contribution to the"postcolo- nialist" turn taken by missionary policy under Popes Benedict XV and Pius XI (Claude Prudhomme), his over-optimistic hopes for the conversion of Scandinavia (Vefie Poels), and the problems of the Catholic missions in what is now Indonesia (Hans de Valk). …

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