Bernardus Johannes Alfrink
Cardinal Archbishop of Utrecht
Cardinal Bernardus Johannes Alfrink
Photo: Archepiscopal Archives Utrecht
Archdiocese Utrecht
Enthroned 31 October 1955
Reign ended 6 December 1975
Predecessor Johannes de Jong
Successor Johannes Willebrands
Ordination 15 August 1924
Consecration 17 July 1951
Created Cardinal 28 March 1960
Rank Cardinal Priest
Personal details
Born 5 July 1900
Nijkerk, Netherlands
Died 16 December 1987
Nieuwegein, Netherlands
Buried St. Catherine's Cathedral, Utrecht, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Denomination Roman Catholic

Bernardus Johannes Alfrink (July 5, 1900 – December 16, 1987) was a Dutch Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Utrecht from 1955 to 1975, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1960.


Bernardus Alfrink was born in Nijkerk, and received his first Communion in 1911. After attending at the seminary in Rijsenburg and the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood on August 15, 1924 by Archbishop Henricus van de Wetering. He then completed his studies at the École Biblique in Jerusalem in 1930, and did pastoral work in Utrecht until 1933. Alfrink taught at the Seminary of Rijsenburg (1933-1945) and later the Catholic University of Nijmegen (1945-1951).

On May 28, 1951, he was appointed Coadjutor Archbishop of Utrecht and Titular Archbishop of Tyana. Alfrink received his episcopal consecration on the following July 17 from Archbishop Paolo Giobbe, papal internuncio in The Hague, with Bishops Willem Lemmens and Jan Smit serving as co-consecrators, in St. Catherine's Cathedral.

Alfrink succeeded Cardinal Johannes de Jong as Archbishop of Utrecht on October 31, 1955, and was named Apostolic Vicar of the Catholic Military Ordinariate of the Netherlands on April 16, 1957. He contributed to scientific publications, led the Pax Christi movement in the Netherlands[1], and was created Cardinal Priest of S. Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello by Pope John XXIII in the consistory of March 28, 1960.

From 1962 to 1965, the Dutch primate participated at the Second Vatican Council, and sat on its Board of Presidency. During one session of the Council, Alfrink had Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani's microphone turned off after the latter exceeded his time limit[2].

Alfrink was one of the cardinal electors in the 1963 papal conclave, which selected Pope Paul VI. Along with Cardinal Giovanni Colombo, he assisted Cardinal Achille Liénart in delivering one of the closing messages of the Council on December 8, 1965[3].

He also served as President of the Episcopal Conference of Holland. Resigning as Utrecht's archbishop on December 6, 1975, he later voted in the conclaves of August and October 1978, which selected Popes John Paul I and John Paul II respectively.

He died in Nieuwegein at age 87, and was after a ceremony in St. Catharine's Cathedral, buried at St. Barbara's cemetery, next to his predecessor.



Viewed as a liberal[4] [5], he once said, "It is always a good thing for the Church to move forward. It is not good if the Church comes to a standstill."[6]


While coadjutor, he announced that the Dominican chapel in Huissen, where a large amount of Catholics were going to confession instead of at the local parishes, would be closed to the public, resulting in the dismay and violent reaction of many[7].

Edward Schillebeeckx

Alfrink supported Fr. Edward Schillebeeckx, OP, and took his condemnation as an offence to the Dutch Church[8].

Humanae Vitae

During his tenure, Alfrink and his fellow Dutch clergymen attacked the argumentation used in Pope Paul's 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae[9].

Royal conversion

He refused to respond to the Dutch Reformed Church's call for clarification in regards to Princess Irene's conversion to Catholicism[10].


His father's name was Theodorus, and the priest who baptized him was Johannes Verstege.


  1. TIME Magazine. Seven New Hats March 14, 1960
  2. EWTN. What Went Wrong With Vatican II
  3. Christus Rex. To Rulers
  4. TIME Magazine. The Council's Prospects September 14, 1962
  5. TIME Magazine. Council of Renewal October 5, 1962
  6. TIME Magazine. The Radical, Revolutionary Church of The Netherlands March 31, 1967
  7. TIME Magazine. The Dominicans' Door January 21, 1952
  8. TIME Magazine. Theologian on Trial October 4, 1968
  9. TIME Magazine. Declaration of Independence January 17, 1969
  10. TIME Magazine. Love with the Proper Stranger February 21, 1964

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Pietro Doimo Munzani
Titular Archbishop of Tyana
28 May 1951 – 31 October 1955
Succeeded by
Primo Principi
Preceded by
Johannes de Jong
Archbishop of Utrecht
31 October 1955 – 6 December 1975
Succeeded by
Johannes Willebrands
New title Apostolic Vicar of the Military Ordinariate of the Netherlands
1957 – 1975
New title Cardinal Priest of San Gioacchino ai Prati di Castello
28 March 1960 – 17 December 1987
Succeeded by
Michele Giordano
gl:Bernardus Johannes Alfrinkno:Bernardus Johannes Alfrink

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