Netherlands, The Catholic Church in
NETHERLANDS, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN
The Kingdom of the Netherlands, also known as Holland, is one of the Low Countries in northwestern Europe, along with Belgium and Luxembourg. Bound on the west and north by the North Sea, on the east by Germany and on the south by Belgium, the Netherlands has traditionally boasted the highest population density in the world. Since 1815 the government has been a constitutional monarchy and has been noted for its socialist policies; it also led the world as one of the founding member nations of NATO in the mid-twentieth century.
The Middle Ages to 1559
During the early Christian era Batavian and other Germanic tribes inhabited the Low Countries, although regions south of the Rhine, including Maastricht and Heerlen and points to the south and west of the North Sea, were under Roman control. Christianity may have been introduced in the 2nd and 3rd centuries by soldiers, officials, merchants and slaves, but not in any systematic way. The first bishop appeared only in the 4th century: the Armenian St. Servatius (Sarbatios) had his see at Tongeren (c. 346–359) and was buried at Maastricht in the Church of St. Servaas. At the Council of Rimini (359) Servatius was a defender of orthodoxy. However, inroads made by Saxon invaders and the 5th century Frankish occupation and colonization of superficially Romanized frontier regions halted all expressions of Christianity there.
Missions before Charlemagne. Missionary activity in the Low Countries started anew after the baptism of King Clovis in 496 at Reims. Bishop vedast (vaast) labored in the Artois; Falco, in Tongeren; and Eleutherus, in Tournai. Further to the north, St. amandus was the first missionary bishop; he became bishop of Maastricht (c. 649), to which town the bishops of Tongeren, already before Monulphus (558), had moved their residence. From then on Irish, Anglo-Saxon and Frankish missionaries established themselves in newly founded monasteries and devoted themselves to the mission of the north. Between 625 and 730, 21 new monasteries were founded, mostly in the Romanized south. From Maastricht St. lambert (670–705) and, after the translation of the residence, from Liège St. hubert (705–727) preached the gospel in Brabant. Christianity did not penetrate Frisia, the region north of the Rhine and the Meuse, before conquest by the Franks between 689 and 719. The isolated efforts of the Anglo-Saxons, St. wilfrid of york (678) and Wicbert (688–689) failed because of the Frisian-Frankish war. However, the Northumbrian St. willibrord (d. 739) and his companions had started systematic evangelization by 690. Five years later Willibrord was appointed bishop of Utrecht by King Pepin II and was approved and consecrated by Pope Sergius I.
Many Anglo-Saxon missionaries crossed the North Sea, including St. boniface, who became the second bishop of Utrecht (753) before he was murdered by the Frisians at Dokkum on June 5, 754; St. willehad, who
was later bishop of Bremen; Liudger; and St. lebuinus. These men were supported in their efforts by the thendwindling Frankish royal power and were aided by monks already in the region. By c. 800 the Low Countries were fully Christianized. Utrecht became the most important diocese and, like Liège, was a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Cologne. To the north and the east, parts of the newly won territories were brought under the supervision of the Dioceses of Münster and Osnabrück. The southern regions belonged to the Archdiocese of Reims and to the Dioceses of Noyon-Tournai, Cambrai and Terwaan (Thérouanne).
The 9th Century. During his reign charlemagne contributed greatly to the growth of the territorial, juridical and financial independence of the Sees of Utrecht and Liège by extending and reinforcing their rights of immunity. The raids of the Normans (810, 834–837, 880–882) wrought wholesale destruction of churches (Utrecht before 858) and monasteries, including egmond and Maastricht. Bishops Hunger (854–866), Odilbold (870–899) and radbod (900–917) had to live in exile in Odilienberg near Roermond and in Deventer. Bishop Balderik (918–976) was finally able to rebuild the cathedral, chapter-houses and the monastery in the ruined town of Utrecht.
Bishops Gain Secular Power. By 870 most of the Low Country region had come under the political control of Germany, and from 925 constituted a dependency of the Kingdom of Lotharingia. In conformity with the German (Ottonian-Salic) system, during the 10th and 11th centuries the bishops of Utrecht and Liège found themselves endowed with secular rights and privileges; they were even entrusted with the civil rule of counties. These bishops became princes of the empire, trustworthy defenders of the king's power against disgruntled counts and dukes striving to free themselves from royal control. Thus in Utrecht Bishop Ansfried of Hoey (995–1010) received royal territory and judicial rights; Bishop Adalbold (1010–26) a county in Drente and Teisterbant; and Bishop Bernold (Bernulfus; 1027–54) two more counties,
demesnes and regalian rights. The secular territories gradually bestowed upon the bishops of Utrecht up to 1054, the so-called "Sticht," together with all pertinent judicial, political and military rights, were transferred as part of a deliberate imperial program designed to create ecclesiastical secular territories that would serve as powerful institutional counterparts in the political balance of the German empire. Liège arrived at the same stage under Bishop notker (972–1008). In return, several monasteries, such as Thorn and Elten, also became political entities, directly subjected to the empire.
Their increasingly political position forced the bishops to resort to military action against rebellious imperial vassals, such as the prefect Balderik or Count Diederik III of Holland. The interweaving of ecclesiastical and secular interests profoundly influenced the spiritual orientation not only of the bishops, but also of the higher clergy, monks, nuns, common people and nobility. Personal relations to God were now affected by the same political, feudal, juridical and hierarchical factors that dominated everyday life.
Gregorian Reform. Utrecht was one of the acknowledged strongholds of the imperialists during the in vestiture struggle which sought to unite the Christian West under the leadership of the pope. Bishop William (1054–76) signed, as the third important man, the act of deposition of Pope gregory vii. Bishop Conrad (1076–99) was as closely connected with the old imperial system as were his Liège confrères Henry of Verdun (1075–91) and Otbert (1091–1119). The abbots of St. Paul's Abbey in Utrecht and of Egmond Abbey, who had not been influenced by the spirit of the cluniac reform in its implementation by Pope Gregory VII, were firm supporters of the imperial cause. Egmond was not transferred into the possession of the Holy See by the owner of the monastery, Count Diederick VI of Holland, before 1140.
The northern Low Countries were more interested in the moral rather than the political aspects of the gregorian reform. Everywhere a strong enthusiasm was in evidence for the newly discovered evangelical ideals of apostolic life (poverty and preaching). Among the chief promoters of this spiritual renewal was St. norbert of xanten (c. 1080–1134), founder of the premonstratensians. The Canons Regular of St. Augustine (at Rolduc from 1112) and the Benedictines also attracted numerous new members. While there had once been only three monasteries in the northern regions, from this period they multiplied rapidly and effected an enthusiasm for the Christian life among the laity. The heretical preaching of the layman tanchelm (c. 1100) near Antwerp advocated an extreme moral reform, extending to revolt against the clergy, the liturgy, tithes and the administration of Sacraments by unworthy priests.
Only after 1100 did the archbishops of Utrecht begin to move slowly in the Gregorian direction. Godebold (1114–27), the first to leave the imperial party, whole-heartedly approved the Concordat of worms (1122). The concordat, as applied to Utrecht, meant that there would be no more foreigners in the see, no more imperial nominations, but instead free election by the five chapters of Utrecht and by the cathedral chapter of Liège of native candidates, such as Andreas of Cuyk (1127–39) and Harbert (1139–50) for Utrecht, and of natives of Namur, Louvain, Jülich, Leien and other towns of the area for Liège. The rise of new powers was manifested in the ardent struggle among the princes of Holland, Guelders and Cleves and the chapters and the municipal communities of Utrecht and Deventer at the election of Herman of Hoorn (1150–56).
In other respects, however, the period after the Concordat of Worms was not sharply distinguished from the preceding one. The spread of monasteries in the Low Countries continued in a more concentrated form. The Benedictines, for example, founded 17 monasteries between 1122 and 1215. The transition to monasteries with a more severe rule (Canons Regular, Norbertines, Benedictines) indicated an intense interest in monastic life. The 14 cistercian convents for nuns that were established within 50 years demonstrated the important role of women in this movement. The newly created double monasteries for men and women eventually became independent foundations.
Third Crusade to Western Schism. The religious zeal inspired by the Crusades of the 11th through the 14th centuries led to the birth and spread of new military orders. The Knights of malta, the teutonic knights and the templars founded their own houses in the Low Countries, mostly in the years 1240 to 1260.
In the Low Countries several leading lords, as well as the populace, took an active part in the crusades: Dirk VI of Holland (1139), Floris III of Holland and his son William, and Otto of Guelders were in the army of frederick i, barbarossa (1184). Bishop Otto (1216–27) and his men, and Count William of Holland, together with the Frisians, fought the Muslims at Damietta (1217). But the crusaders were diverted at times to serve secular purposes, as when the Frisian crusaders were employed to fight the rebellious Stedingers, who did not wish to pay tithes to the archbishop of Bremen (1234). Crusaders were also used to capture (1248) the town of Aachen, site of imperial coronations, for the Roman king, William IV of Holland.
Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa again appointed bishops (Geoffrey of Rhenen, 1156–78; Baldwin of Holland, 1178–96) who would support his battles against the pope and against the lay nobles. At the time of the double election in Germany (1198), the bishops of Utrecht and Liège, like their Rhenish colleagues, supported the Guelph candidate opposing the German emperor, until finally frederick ii was eliminated as a determining factor in ecclesiastical policy. The electoral chapters, however, were to find the emperor's place taken increasingly by the neighboring territorial princes of Holland and Guelders, and later by the popes during the Avignon period. Many secular considerations, such as conflicting international or territorial political interests, now determined the election, appointment, deposition or translation of bishops.
Synodal records and statutes, nevertheless, reveal a continuing interest in liturgy, discipline, administration of Sacraments, celebration of feasts, ecclesiastical organization and monastic life. Around 1350 there were 100 days that were celebrated as solemnly as Sundays, an anomaly in a world which was steadily becoming urbanized and commercialized. The mendicant orders began c. 1230 to come to the new towns in Holland, Brabant and Utrecht, and provided residents with appropriate spiritual care. The rise of the beguines reflected the interplay of religious and social factors (a surplus of women). Among the important spiritual phenomena in this period were the Eucharistic miracle at Amsterdam (1345), the hysterical preoccupation with death by the Flagellants and the Dancers (1347), the observantist movement in the convents and the devotio moderna, which at the end of the 14th century found a promoter of European significance in Gerard groote of Deventer (1340–84) (see brethren of the common life; windesheim; thomas À kempis; imitation of christ; spirituality of the low countries).
During the Middle Ages the Low Countries produced no theologians or philosophers of world fame, but they did supply many scholars who played important roles at the universities of Paris, Cologne, Louvain and Heidelberg. Included among them were marsilius of inghen (d. 1396), henry of gorkum (d. 1431) and Heymericus de Campo (d. 1460). Only Wessel gansfort (1419–89) acquired international importance; his treatises later won the admiration of Martin Luther.
1378 to 1559. During the western schism the Low Countries supported urban vi and the Roman line of claimants against the Clement VII and the French claims, apart from a short period of neutrality at Liège dictated by Philip of Burgundy. The concordat of Pope Martin V with the German nation (1418) following the schism meant, for the Low Countries, a considerable restriction in papal provision and appointments. The estates of Utrecht, the chapters, the nobility and the citizens of the towns of the Sticht thereafter played a primary role in the election of the bishop of Utrecht, their spiritual and temporal lord.
Political differences were the main cause of the first Utrecht schism (1423–1433–1449), in which the western part of the diocese (Nedersticht) supported the cause of the papal appointee Zweder of Kuilenburg, while the eastern districts (Oversticht) followed their elected candidate Rudolf of Diepholt. The whole conflict was essentially a Burgundian affair, since Duke Philip of Burgundy was pushing into the northern territories. Burgundian influence kept growing stronger through the centralization initiated by the duke. His illegitimate son David received the See of Utrecht (1457–96), and his nephew Louis of Bourbon the See of Liège (1455–82). Eventually nearly all the northern regions came under Philip of Burgundy's control. In the same way Frederick of Baden (1496–1517), a grandnephew of Philip the Fair, Duke of Burgundy, was appointed for Utrecht by his uncle the Roman Emperor Maximilian I, who on this occasion received a papal privilege of free appointment. But the Burgundian-Hapsburg family abandoned Frederick when he compromised himself by negotiating with France, and the see was given to another Burgundian protégé, Philip of Burgundy (1517–24). Henry of Bavaria, the next bishop, was not even consecrated. Unable to resist Burgundian pressure, he surrendered in 1528 to Emperor Charles V the temporal territories and rights held by the See of Utrecht since 1054. This marked the end of the Middle Ages in the Netherlands.
From a religious viewpoint the close of the Middle Ages was occasioned by the progress of the reformation. The evangelical, dogmatic-moral orientation of northern humanism supported by the practical mentality of the Devotio Moderna, the aversion against quibbling scholasticism, and the increasing criticisms of ecclesiastical abuses prepared the way for the new doctrines. The new critical philological method of Erasmian theology manifested itself in a series of vehement attacks on the old scholastic system and met with severe resistance at the University of Louvain. Precisely because of his personalistic humanism, Desiderius erasmus of Rotterdam (1469–1536) was not the man to reconcile the doctrinal controversies of his age.
The specifically Dutch form of the new theology was not Lutheranism but Sacramentarianism (Hinne Rode, Cornelis Hoen); but the popular spiritualistic movement of the anabaptists attracted many of the lower classes. Government repression, however, quelled the revolutionary excesses and forced Anabaptism to cease its involvement in public activity (Quiet Baptists; mennonites). It was French calvinism that caused the separation of more than half the population from the Church by identifying the cause of reformed religion with the struggle for political independence and for the preservation of national rights against the dominating policy of Spain.
1559 to 1795
The most obvious sign of the centralizing, absolutist Hapsburg policy that would eventually culminate in the unification of the Netherlands under Charles V, was the concordat of 1559, which King philip ii of spain, ruler of the Netherlands, extorted from Pope paul iv. Already at the secularization of Utrecht, Charles V had acquired an obvious right of episcopal nomination, and Bishops William of Enckenvoirt and George of Egmond were no longer regarded as significant authorities. True power and jurisdiction rested with the higher clergy and the chapters. Since the spread of Lutheranism was not restrained by imperial edict, a more efficient ecclesiastical organization was needed. By the bull Super universas (May 12, 1599) the Holy See created three new ecclesiastical provinces: cambrai (with Arras, Tournai, Namur and St. Omer as suffragans); Mechelen (with Ypres, Ghent, Bruges, Antwerp, Bois-le-Duc and Roermond); and Utrecht (with Haarlem, Deventer, Middelburg, Groningen and Leeuwarden). The nominees of Philip II were far from ideal; the only bishops outstanding for ability and virtue were Nicolas de Castro of Middelburg, Cunerus Petri of Leeuwarden and Wilhelm Lindanus of Roermond.
Origins and Spread of Protestantism. The Netherlands region needed reformation urgently. The number of priests increased considerably in the 15th century. By the end of this century there were about 6,000 secular and 3,000 religious priests with 1,600 parishes and 75 collegiate churches with 1,200 canons; but 25 percent of these priests did not observe the law of celibacy, and most of them had received poor theological training. As a result the parish priests and the regular clergy were unable either to effectively refute the arguments for Lutheranism and Calvinism to hold their flocks together. Young priests with the training advocated by the Council of Trent were lacking everywhere in the Low Countries because of the absence of seminaries there.
Chapters and magistrates, opposed as they were to the new organization of dioceses, delayed the holding of a council of the Archdiocese of Utrecht until 1565. Prelates and chapters accepted the Tridentine doctrinal decrees, but not until 1568 did they submit to the disciplinary measures that would curtail their jurisdiction. The projected new seminary was not erected.
In this unfavorable situation all plans for Catholic reform came to naught even before the rebellious Calvinist minorities invaded Holland and Gelderland in 1572 and in the name of freedom and of reformed religion cut short all organized Catholic life. Subsequently the Calvinists won by military force the remaining northern provinces in which the reformed religion was sometimes introduced with violence (Martyrs of gorkum and of Alkmaar). In Utrecht Catholicism was liquidated between 1579 and 1580; with the death of Archbishop Schenck (Aug. 25, 1580) the hierarchy in this ecclesiastical province came to an end. The worthy Bishop Govert van Mierlo of Haarlem (d. 1587) had to flee from the Calvinistic terror in May of 1578 and was never able to return to his see. His cathedral chapter continued his work, however, and was an important center of missionary activity as late as 1703. The bishop of Middelburg died in May of 1573; the bishop of Groningen, in October of 1576 and the bishop of Deventer died in May of 1577. Cunerus Petri of Leeuwarden was banished in April of 1578. Philip II nominated others in their places, but these nominees did not receive papal confirmation and were therefore of no importance in the regions where Calvinists were preponderant. Brabant and Limburg did not belong to the rebellious Calvinistic federation until c. 1630. The hierarchy was preserved at Bois-le-Duc until 1632 and at Roermond until 1801. In these two dioceses the Tridentine reforms were introduced with such ease and success that Catholicism has remained strong in these regions to the present time.
Catholic Reform. A solution for the inadequate ecclesiastical organization was found when Sasbout Vosmeer (d. 1614), a secular priest belonging to a patrician family of Delft, was appointed vicar-general for Utrecht (1583) and for Middelburg (1584). In his administration Vosmeer was subject to the newly erected nunciature at Cologne until 1596 and after that, to the nunciature at Brussels. In 1592 Vosmeer became vicar apostolic; he received episcopal consecration in 1602. This appointment indicated clearly that the Holland mission was directly under Roman control. From 1622 until 1908 it was under the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. Vosmeer's good example stimulated a handful of young priests to devote themselves under very difficult circumstances to missionary work around Delft. Willem Coopal, vicar of the chapter in Haarlem from 1592, was the soul of the missionary activity in northern Holland. Utrecht and Oldenzaal later became important regional missionary centers. As a result of this missionary endeavor many predominately Catholic villages exist today even in regions that are almost entirely Protestant. However, the great shortage of zealous priests allowed regions such as Drente, Groningen and Friesland to become almost completely Protestant. The regular clergy could fill the need only partially; until 1614, for example, there were only 15 Jesuits in the Dutch mission. The situation changed for the better a few years later. By 1630 there were nearly 100 religious and 300 secular priests at work. The increase was due to the newly founded seminaries at Cologne (1602) and Louvain (1617). Later priests also came from Douai. The Vicars Apostolic Philippus rovenius (1614–51) and Johannes neercassel (1663–86) distinguished themselves by concentrating all their forces on pastoral activity. Rivalry between regular and secular clergy adversely affected the results.
Restrictions on Catholics. The Netherlands has never been subjected to the imposition of Protestantism by force, nor was the Reformed Church an officially established one (see reformed churches). As a religious minority Catholics were excluded from political offices, magistracies and guilds, but judicial officers in nearly every town allowed Catholics to hold religious services in private homes, garrets and barns for a financial consideration. Despite such obstacles, important Catholic artists contributed to the glory of the Dutch golden age: convert and poet Joost van den Vondel, painter Jan Steen, architect Hendrik de Keyser and musician Joannes Stalpaert van der Wielen are only the most famous among a great number. The 17th century was not dominated by a Calvinistic cultural hegemony, but the official repression, the exclusion from social life and from certain forms of trade and industry affected the personal and collective honor and vitality of Catholics more and more. Under the circumstances it is not surprising that Catholicism in the Netherlands declined until it comprised only a third of the population by 1726. Around 1700 the leading merchants, industrialists and intellectuals were Protestants, and the gentry were on the verge of converting to Calvinism (the poverty-stricken and the proletariat had done so from the very beginning). Catholics were to be found in the middle class, among the shopkeepers and artisans. Only in the 18th and 19th centuries did immigration from Westphalia change this pattern. The distilling of gin, the preparation of tobacco and other products, and, later, the manufacture of textiles enabled these Catholic immigrants to acquire enough wealth to position them in the upper classes of Dutch society.
In view of the unfavorable position of Catholicism in the Netherlands, the division in Catholic ranks caused by the Schism of utrecht is all the more regrettable. After 1702 the Estates of Holland no longer permitted the presence of a vicar apostolic appointed by Rome. This left Catholics without a legitimate leader. No new bishops were appointed, the Sacrament of Confirmation was not administered, churches were not consecrated and there was only a perfunctory supervision from Brussels by an Italian nuncio acting as vice-superior of the Dutch mission. After the death in 1727 of the vicar apostolic J. van Bijleveldt the only form of ecclesiastical organization was that of nine archpresbyterates: Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, West Friesland, Utrecht, Gelderland, Twent, Salland and Groningen. This organization remained unchanged until 1853.
The Rise of the Modern Church: 1795 to World War I
After Dutch patriots, inspired by the spirit of the French Revolution, turned the Netherlands into the Batavian Republic (1795–1806), the religious situation changed. A decree of the Batavian National Assembly (Aug. 5, 1796) ended the extremely close union of the State with the privileged Reformed Church. In succeeding years the country, once a commercial superpower, would come increasingly under the sway of Napoleonic France, while many of its colonies were lost to Great Britain.
1795 to 1853. The introduction of the principles of the french revolution into the Netherlands legally emancipated the suppressed Catholics and gave them the opportunity to become magistrates. In the National Assembly (March of 1796) 25 percent of the members were Catholics. Brabant was admitted to the Batavian Republic, but Limburg and Zeeuws-Vlaanderen were annexed to France. This resulted in the abolition in 1801 of the Diocese of Roermond, the territory of which was divided between Aachen and Liège. The Vicariate Apostolic of Breda was created in 1803. This new freedom profited Catholics. Churches were restored, and new ones could be built. Priests were no longer required to seek government permission in order to function. The construction of seminaries in Breda, Bois-le-Duc, Warmond and 's-Heerenberg (1798–99) made it possible to educate the clergy of the Netherlands on native soil.
King Louis Bonaparte (1806–10), appointed by his brother, the Emperor Napoleon, changed this freedom into a new kind of Gallican servitude by creating a department of cult and by demanding control over such ecclesiastical affairs as the education and payment of the clergy, the administration of churches and the projected reestablishment of the hierarchy. The annexation of the Kingdom of Holland to France (1810–13) was only a brief interlude. During it the Diocese of 's-Hertogenbosch was reestablished, but its bishop could not take possession of his see because of opposition from the local clergy. Breda was annexed to the See of Mechelen. Van Maanen, Goubeau and Van Gobbelschroy, who served as advisers to King William I (1813–39) in a newly independent Holland, learned the ideas of Louis Napoleon and maintained in practice the provisions of the French concordat of 1801 and the organic articles.P. G. van Ghert, influenced by the philosophy of hegel regarding the state, aimed to form a national Church under governmental supervision. To this end he created the college of philosophy at Louvain (1825), where seminarians would imbibe the spirit of febronianism before studying theology. These projects caused such a serious conflict that King William I asked for a new concordat (1827). This document abolished the concordat of 1801 for Limburg and established on paper the organization of dioceses. But it was not put into effect fully because Protestants and anticlericals opposed it and because the Catholic clergy disliked any agreement that gave the crown preponderant influence in the nomination of bishops and canons. The northern Netherlands remained a missionary district, the subject of a power struggle among political factions.
King William II (1840–49), who was strongly influenced by Johannes Zwijsen, a priest in Tilburg, favored the Catholic desire to found new monasteries and to start Catholic schools and social care; but he did not succeed in putting the concordat of 1827 into effect. As a result of the secession of Belgium (1830) from the Netherlands the Vicariate Apostolic of Limburg was separated from Liège (1840), Zeeuws-Flanders was annexed to the Vicariate Apostolic of Breda (1841) and the vicars apostolic of Breda, Bois-le-Duc and Roermond received the episcopal dignity (1842). The reestablishment of the Catholic hierarchy had to await the constitution of 1848, which granted freedom of education and of ecclesiastical organization under the country's new parliamentary government.
Catholics cooperated with liberals for the principles of unrestricted political freedom. For a generation the Catholic laity had been stimulated by the publications of J. Le Sage ten Broek, whose periodical De Godsdienstvriend, begun in 1818, was influenced by Hugues Félicité de lamennais in its ultramontane outlook. Also influential were Professors Cornelis Broere and Franciscus van Vree of Warmond, who strove for a Catholic cultural revival by founding De Katholiek (1842) and the Catholic daily De Tijd (1845). Differences in politico-ecclesiastical thought brought into being two groups of Catholic laymen. A conservative group, Gallican in spirit, centered around the department of cult and favored government influence in ecclesiastical affairs. A second group, composed of younger persons, gathered around De Tijd and strove for complete separation of church and state. The latter group received the support of most of the professors at Warmond and of Bishop Zwijsen, the vicar apostolic of Bois-le-Duc.
The conservatives requested the reestablishment of the hierarchy, but the progressives and liberals actually obtained it in 1853 as a logical consequence of the principles of freedom contained in the constitution of 1848. The ideas formulated by Bishop C. A. von Bommel of Liège influenced the papal bull Ex qua die arcano, in which Pius IX restored the hierarchical organization of 1559. The Archdiocese of Utrecht was made the metropolitan see. Its archbishop, Johannes Zwijsen, was made administrator of Bois-le-Duc. Suffragan to Utrecht were the Dioceses of Haarlem, Breda and Roermond. The Vicariates of Megen and Grave, erected in 1801 for the Netherlands sections of the suppressed Dioceses of Roermond and Liège, were associated with Bois-le-Duc.
Protestants joined with conservatives who opposed the Liberal premier Jan Thorbecke. Their vehement reaction caused the fall of Thorbecke (1853) and led to the promulgation of an innocuous decree requiring a bishop to ask for official admission before taking up residence in his see.
1853 to World War I. During the last half of the 19th century Dutch Catholics tended to dwell in cultural isolation. A common past as a religious minority, the increasing centralization of ecclesiastical authority in Rome, and Pius IX's teachings in quanta cura and in the syllabus of errors (1864) promoted among these Catholics an attitude of separation from the world, modeled on the outlook of the French publications L'Univers and La Croix. Ultramontanism found strong support in the Netherlands. With the exception of Bishop Franciscus van Vree of Haarlem, the hierarchy concerned itself with ecclesiastical administration and pastoral works, and it did not engage in scientific or theological discussions. Original scholarly productions were few. The most important ones were those of Cornelis Broere in theology, W. Nuyens in history, J. A. alberdingk thym in literature and T. Borret in archeology. Catholics played a more important role in music, architecture and sculpture because of the work of Pierre Cuypers, Louis Royer and the three Strackés.
The Catholic alliance with the Liberals in politics bore good fruit, but it did not endure because of the disinclination of the Liberals to put into effect the results of 1848 and to grant to Catholics complete freedom and government subsidies for Catholic elementary schools (1857, 1878). Hermann Schaepman (1844–1903), priest, poet and politician, was mainly responsible for the conservative direction taken by Catholics. In 1880 he became a member of the second chamber of the Estates-General, and he published Proeve van een Program (1883), which provided the basis for the political organization of Catholics in Rooms Katholieke Staatspartij (1896). In conjunction with Abraham Kuyper, the Protestant political leader, Schaepman established a Catholic-Protestant coalition to oppose the influences of liberalism. By combining the struggle for widening the suffrage with the school issue at the time when the constitution was revised (1887), Schaepman discovered the road that led to the granting of general suffrage and to the equating of public and private education in the distribution of public funds (1917). In his later years Schaepman followed the directives of Pope Leo XIII concerning social problems and collaboration with non-Catholics. Alfons Ariëns, the pupil of Schaepman, founded the Association of Catholic Laborers (R. K. Werkliedenvereniging ), which formed the nucleus of the present-day Katholieke Arbeiders Beweging. Henri Poels strove after 1910 for the social emancipation of the workers in Limburg.
After Leo XIII's death (1903) there was in the Netherlands, as elsewhere in the Church, a reaction against appeasement, free scientific research and irenic spirituality. The concentration on purely spiritual matters gave rise to a very intense Eucharistic life and interest in the liturgy. At the same time the reaction against modernism promoted integralism. The eager vigilance of Integralists, such as M. A. Thompson, a priest who edited the Rotterdam Catholic daily newspaper De Maasbode (1897–1912), stigmatized all efforts for parliamentary and social democracy and all ecumenical and irenic colloquies as traitorous collaboration with a libertine world.
The 20th Century and Beyond
Since the revolt of 1830 decided the future of Belgium as an independent state, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands has remained under a constitutional form of government. Neutral during World War I, the country relinquished control over several of its remaining colonies during the first part of the 20th century; in 1954 the islands comprising the Netherlands Antilles were granted full partnership in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and as late as 1975 Suriname was granted political independence. Like many other nations, in addition to political realignments, the Netherlands also experienced a resurgent interest in Catholicism during the century.
The first decades of the 20th century witnessed a remarkable development of efficient Catholic organizations in the spiritual and secular spheres. Throughout the Netherlands parishes were created and churches built. The foundation of the Catholic University of Nijmegen (1923) and of the Catholic School of Economics in Tilburg (1927) were the most outstanding events in the progress of Catholic higher education. Several monasteries were also built, while Catholic hospitals and other charitable works increased in number. Missionary zeal intensified. The apostolate of Christian culture gained a wide following.
This organized Catholicism drew serious criticisms from younger intellectuals, among them Willem Asselbergs (alias Anton van Duinkerken), who fought as hard against the "heresies" of humanism and vitalism as against Catholic attitudes of self-sufficiency and triumph. The generation after Schaepman was so willing to continue his policy of political alliance with Protestants that a Catholic, Charles Ruys de Beerenbrouck, was prime minister in three cabinets (1918–22, 1922–25, 1929–33). To an increasing degree Catholics also sought closer relations with the country's socialist leaders following World War I, blaming other Catholic politicians for conformism to traditional principles that did not offer any solution for mounting economic and social problems at the national and international levels. The decline of effective democracy led some Catholics to look with favor on Italian Fascism and, to a lesser extent, on German National Socialism, and to form De Nieuwe Gemeenschap and Zwart Front.
World War II reunited all elements in a common resistance to the German occupation of the country. Johannes de jong, Archbishop of Utrecht and later cardinal (1945), was recognized universally as the leader in the resistance to the ideology of National Socialism. In 1941 membership in the National-Socialistische Beweging was forbidden. It was during the German occupation that Catholics and Protestants began the colloquies that would eventually effect a healthful change in the spiritual climate and promote the ecumenical movement. The ideals of political cooperation after World War II tried to break through the bastions of confessional parties and formulate a comprehensive national policy. The Catholic bishops, however, while preferring to retain existing Catholic organizations, also revealed an awareness of the shortcomings of isolationism (Episcopal Mandate, 1954).
An ecumenical spirit began to grow within the country during the early 1950s, as Catholics became more active participants in national, political and cultural life. Religious discrimination began to decline. Important historical syntheses by L. J. Rogier destroyed the remnants of the former ghetto mentality and stimulated Dutch Catholicism to a self-conscious thought and action described as "progressive." At Vatican Council II Cardinal Bernardus Alfrink and others gave evidence of the vigor and forward-looking outlook that would be characteristic of Netherlands Catholicism during the second half of the 20th century. However, a synod held in Rome in January of 1980 yielded little progress in improving the internal stability of the Church in the Netherlands.
Moving into the New Millennium. By the 1990s the influence of religion on secular life was continuing its downward trend, the Netherlands' socialist political policies often running counter to Church doctrine. As had been predicted at Vatican Council II, Dutch Catholics were becoming polarized over both religious and social issues. Ministries for women and celibacy among priests were among those Church-related issues that found Catholics on both sides, while other concerns, such as assisted suicide and sexual morality, were debated in the political arena as well as in the Church. In 1995 the Katholiek Politieke Partij (K-P-P) was founded as a means to provide like-minded Catholics with a conservative voice in social policy issues, such as abortion, divorce, drug use, euthanasia, immigration and others. The Katholiek Niewsblad (newspaper) was also established to serve Catholic interests.
Within one of the most politically liberal nations in the world, a strong, united Catholic presence remains crucial if Church doctrine is have an effect on Dutch social policies. Such organizations as the Federation of Catholic and Protestant Employers Associations and other trade unions representing Catholic workers have actively lobbied the nation's First and Second Chamber representatives. The 1998 Dutch Bishops' conference ended with a pastoral letter calling on Catholics to lobby the government to stop turning away asylum-seekers from countries such as Iran, citing as "a particular responsibility for churches, politicians, and others" to change existing closed-door immigration policies. In September of 2000 the Dutch parliament's approval of same-sex marriage legislation prompted the Vatican to dub the policy "a insult to reason," a criticism in line with Pope John Paul II's stated objection to such legislation.
The Catholic Presence. In 1650 nearly half the population of the Netherlands was Catholic, but in 1726 that number had dropped to about one-third. According to the 1809 census, 38.1 percent were Catholics, that number holding relatively steady into the 21st century.
Like other parts of Europe, the Netherlands received an influx of Muslims from Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia beginning in the 1960s, resulting in the construction of over 300 mosques throughout the country. In contrast, by 2000 there were 1,683 parishes, 1,664 secular and 2,599 religious priests, 214 major seminarians, 1,712 religious men and 13,216 religious women administering to the Catholic faith.
Catholic elementary and secondary schools, which receive financial support from the government, account for 35 percent of all schools at these levels and enrolled 40 percent of all students. The pontifical Catholic University of Nijmegen and the School of Economics at Tilburg continued with student enrollments in the thousands. The nation's 120 Catholic hospitals had over 25,000 beds, while Catholics presses published over 20 newspapers appearing at least once a week and numerous books and periodicals of a religious, cultural or scientific character.
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[a. g. weiler/eds.]