Utrecht, Schism of

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Arose early in the 18th century over the deposition of Pieter codde as vicar apostolic of Utrecht (16861704) because of his reputed jansenism. For a century previous to this the netherlands had shown a marked affinity to the theocentrism of bÉrulle and the rigorism of port-royal. Jansenism influenced the secular clergy especially through the Dutch College at Louvain, whose first rector was Cornelius jansen. The most prominent representative of this tendency was Johannes van neercassel, Vicar Apostolic of Utrecht (1663-86) and friend of arnauld, but also loyal to Rome. A far more important influence was the episcopalism of the Louvain canonist Van espen. Both these tendencies, found mostly among the secular clergy, embittered relations between seculars and regulars, especially the jesuits. Codde was not an impressive personality, and was strongly influenced by refugee Jansenists and Benedictines from France and by persons hostile to the Jesuits, all of whom he permitted to engage in pastoral work. In 1699 he was summoned to Rome to explain charges that he had taught Jansenistic doctrines and harbored such French Jansenists as quesnel and gerberon. A commission of cardinals studied his case and decided to counteract Jansenistic tendencies among the Dutch clergy by requiring them to sign the formulary of alexander vii. When Codde refused, he was suspended (1702) and then dismissed as vicar apostolic (1704). The great majority of the secular and regular clergy sided with Codde. Led by J. C. van Erkel, one of Codde's provicars, and supported by the Protestant government, they refused to accept the new vicar apostolic of Utrecht, Theodorus de Cock.

Despite excommunication from Rome the rebellious clergy of the vicariate took Van Espen's advice and appointed, as archbishop of Utrecht, Cornelius Steenoven, who in 1724 was consecrated by a suspended French missionary bishop, Dominique Varlet. Juridical Jansenism, as distinct from preexisting theological and moral Jansenism, arose at this time with the formation of the Rooms-Katholieke Kerk der Oud-Bisschoppelijke Clerezie (OBC) as a schismatic church, which still exists; it then had 51 parishes, 47 Dutch priests, and 51 "appellant" priests from Belgium and France. Bishops were appointed also at Haarlem (1742) and Deventer (1758), and a seminary was started at Amersfoort (1724). During the remainder of the 18th century efforts continued to be made to reunite with Rome; but they were frustrated chiefly by divergent views concerning ecclesiastical law. At the Council of Utrecht (1763) the Little Church of Utrecht, as it came to be known popularly, rejected the extreme Jansenist teachings, and showed itself substantially one in doctrine with the Roman Church. Deep doctrinal cleavage appeared only in 1854 when Pius IX solemnly defined the dogma of the immaculate conception; it widened when vatican council i defined papal primacy and infallibility (1870). Waning fervor led to a decline in the OBC after 1763.

The Church of Utrecht attracted other schismatic groups. Thus the petite Église asked it for priests after 1832. In 1873 Bp. Herman Heykamp consecrated J. H. Reinkens, thereby supplying a bishop to the old catholics. The OBC was vigorous in its opposition to the restoration of the Dutch Catholic hierarchy (1853). Old Catholic influence induced the Utrecht group to enter into closer relations with Protestant churches after 1870.

Bibliography: l. j. rogier, Geschiedenis van het katholicisme in Noord-Nederland, 3 v. (Amsterdam 1945-47) v.2; Henrie Grégoire en de Katholieken van Nederland (Hilversum 1964). b. van bilsen, Het schisma van Utrecht (Utrecht 1949). J. Carreyre, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 15.2:2390-2446. p. j. f. m. harkx, De oudbisschoppelijke cleresie en Rome: Contacten en vredespagingen, 1733-1749 (Helmond 1963).

[a. g. weiler]