A CONSERVATIVE bishop, Adranus Simonis, of Rotterdam, has been appointed coadjutor archbishop of Utrecht, The Netherlands, with the right of succession to Cardinal Willebrands, it was announced last week.
Cardinal Willebrands, who is 73, had asked the Pope to make the change because of his commitments as president of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, the Vatican announcement said.
In a letter to all churches in his archdiocese Cardinal Willebrands said he wanted to resign as Archbishop of Utrecht because of the mental and physical strain of combining that job with his presidency of the Vatican's Secretariat for Christian Unity.
Reports from the Netherlands' said his actual resignation and Bishop Simonis' accession to the post will take place near the end of 1983.
The head of the Rotterdam Diocese since 1970, 6I-year-old Bishop Simonis is known as the more moderate of the two strongly conservative Ordinaries (heads of dioceses) within the Dutch hierarchy. Pope John Paul did not immediately name a replacement for Bishop Simonis in Rotterdam.
Cardinal Willebrands, who is also president of the Dutch Bishops' Conference, is considered a moderate among the five Ordinaries identified as liberal. He has been Archbishop of Utrecht since 1975 and president of the Secretariat for Christian Unity at the Vatican since 1969.
Liberal-conservative splits within the Dutch hierarchy and even stronger divisions among many Dutch Catholics led to a special synod of the nations bishops in Rome three years ago aimed at restoring unity in the Dutch church.
Since then a number of reforms have been begun in the Dutch church. Among these was the addition of four auxiliary bishops in 1982 in an effort to reduce the work load among the seven bishops who were responsible for the pastoral care of some 5'/2 million Catholics, and to reduce the effects of personality conflicts that were exacerbated by the small number of bishops in the country.