1. The situation of the Roman Catholic Church in the Dutch Republic
Jansenism and Port-Royal had friends and admirers in several countries, in England, in Germany, in Spain, and in Italy, but nowhere a Jansenist party originated. There is, however, one great exception: the Roman Catholic Church of the Republic of the United Netherlands. This is remarkable for two reasons: the Church was leading a clandestine existence in this country, and more to the point here, the Republic was the only country where the question led to a schism.
One of the effects of the successful war against Spain had been that in all the regions where the States General were triumphant, both the supra- and infrastructures of the Roman Catholic Church were destroyed. There was freedom of conscience; that is, one might be a Catholic or even become one in case one wished to do so. Yet that was all. There was no freedom of religion, for the public exercize of the Catholic cult was strictly forbidden. There were no longer bishops, and the dioceses erected in 1559 stood orphaned. Lower down the hierarchical ladder there were no longer deaneries and parishes. All the monasteries, friaries, and nunneries had been dissolved. Those who wanted to become a monk or a nun had to emigrate to a Catholic country.
There were also no parish priests, either secular or regular, to care for the faithful, who were deprived of the Mass and the sacraments. It goes without saying that all Catholic institutions, like hospitals and leproseries, had disappeared from the face of the earth; naturally there were also no schools for Catholic children. The University of Leiden, founded in 1575, was a Protestant university right from the start. Add to this that Catholics were not allowed to study at this university and that they, at least officially, might not fulfill public functions[i], and it will be evident that they had become second-class citizens.
Initially the Roman Catholic community suffered great losses, but after some decades the haemorrhage stopped. We may safely state that after 1600, or perhaps already earlier, those who were still Catholic remained true to the faith, perhaps some 40 or 50 % of the population on the territory of the Republic. It is often said that the Netherlands are a Protestant country, but this has never been the case, not even numerically.[ii] The Reformed Church had a privileged position, but it never became the state Church.
During the frenetic first phase of the revolt, when radical elements had the upperhand, there had been persecutions, with fatal victims, like the Martyrs of Gorcum, among Catholics still very popular, who were barbarously murdered in 1572. Soon, however, the situation became more relaxed. Religious strife did not serve the interests of the great commercial centres, like Amsterdam; it might shy away foreign merchants and investors. In the provinces it was mostly so that the Catholics were left in peace as long as they did not publicly manifest themselves. On the whole Dutch society was (and is) fairly tolerant (or indifferent) with regard to theological distinctions.
2. Bringing order into the Dutch Catholic Church
It was the papal nuncio to the archdiocese of Cologne who brought some order into the confused situation of the Dutch Church. He had the ear of the Pope who was also concerned with the fate of his co-religionists in the Republic. A young priest, born in Delft, Sasbout Vosmeer (1548-1614) was active in the province of Holland. He had already been regulating the affairs of the dioceses of Utrecht and Middelburg. The nuncio made him, on behalf of the Pope, the plenipotentiary for the entire archdiocese, which function became official, when he received the title of `vicarious apostolicus of Utrecht'. His authority was extended to the whole territory of the Republic on June 3, 1592.
The Pope later made him a bishop, but his title was not `archbishop of Utrecht', but bishop of Philippi in partibus infidelium, that is, of a no longer existing diocese in Muslim Macedonia. Rome realized that restoration of the archdiocese of Utrecht would meet with fierce opposition from the Dutch authorities. The Vatican maintained the fiction that the Dutch dioceses still existed until the first decades of the eighteenth century. Actually the Republic was mission territory, the missio hollandica', the Hollandse Zending.[iii] Vosmeer established himself in Cologne in 1602, because an arrest warrant against him was out in the Republic.
3. Revitalization of Dutch Catholicism
The wholesome effects of the Council of Trent began to make themselves felt in the last decades of the sixteenth century and still more after 1600. Dedicated young men from Catholic families were ready to go to foreign parts in order to study for the priesthood; they attended the new seminaries that were instituted by the Council (which, naturally, did not exist in the Republic itself). Vosmeer founded a convict for priest students in Cologne, where a great number of Dutch young men were studying. In February 1617 a second convict was founded, this one in Louvain, the Collegium Pulcheriae Mariae Virginis, the Pulcheria for short. Here too many young men were trained to become priests. The first president of the Pulcheria - let the reader note this - was Cornelius Jansenius. The Cologne convict was dissolved in 1670, or rather, transferred to Louvain, under the supervision of the vicarius apostolicus.[iv]
Most of these young priests returned to the Republic, where they became pastors of the so-called missie staties, as the new (clandestine) parishes were called. Many of those who came were secular priests, but also many regulars of several Orders. The greatest number of the latter were Jesuits. It is estimated that in 1656 there were one hundred and forty regulars active in the Republic and three hundred secular priests.[v]
There were nowhere ordinary church buildings, but, instead, the soc-called schuilkerken, clandestine churches in warehouses and private houses. The faithful could attend Mass there, receive the sacraments, have their children baptized, go to confession and get married. Ecclesiastical gatherings were raided from time to time by the police; then all those present were fined. The Catholic community was so thoroughly bled that, when by the law of August 6, 1796, there was to be general religious freedom, police salaries had to be raised because of the loss of this lucrative additional income.
If a Dutch Catholic of the penal times was ready to remain content with his status of a second-rate citizen, - and what could one do else? -, a faithful was happy to exercize his religion in the privacy of the family circle or in the statie. That he had to occasionally draw his purse in order to pay a fine was considered as being a part of the normal expenses, jus as we do with summonses. That Catholic life between 1650 and 1750 was not as peaceful as it might have been was the fault of the Catholics themselves.
4. Friction between regulars and seculars
First of all, there was always trouble between the seculars and the regulars. The seculars came from the Pulcheria in Louvain, the regulars from the seminaries of their Orders; they accused each other of intruding on their respective fields of action. And over all this hovered the ghost of Jansenism. Since the seculars came from Louvain, Jansenius' homebase and a hotbed of Jansenism, they were considered by the regulars as crypto-Jansenists. In the hothouse of this suppressed clandestine community every conflict soon acquired venomous traits. The regulars espied Jansenism everywhere. "If one raised his voice against a veneration of saints bordering on superstition, he was promptly accused of Jansenism."[vi] The parties kept each other under fire with a bombardment of pamphlets, the one still more vicious than the other.
5. A suspect vicarius apostolicus
About 1700 the struggle reached its paroxysm. The vicarius apostolicus of this period was Petrus Codde (1648-1710); he was in function from 1688 to 1710.[vii] He had everything to make him suspect with the anti-Jansenist faction. He was born in Amsterdam on November 27, 1648, in a wealthy family. He began his studies with the Oratorians of Malines and Louvain and studied philosophy at the University of Louvain. He joined the Oratorians in 1667 and was ordained a priest on November 17, 1672, after having studied theology at Louvain University. After his ordination he spent some time in Paris in Oratorian houses that were tainted with Jansenism. More importantly, he concluded a great friendship with Antoine Arnauld and with Quesnel.
Rogier, the historian of Dutch Catholicism of this period, says that Quesnel was Codde's `prompter' as long as the vicarius lived. "Drawn along in the wake of a movement that, through Quesnel's impelling, assumed evermore an antipapal and sectarian character, finally becoming a determined resistance, Codde got into an impasse out of which only a turnabout could have saved him."[viii] With Arnauld Codde always remained in close contact after the former's flight to the Spanish Netherlands.
His predecessor as vicarius, Johannes van Neercassel (his years as such were 1663-1686) summoned him to the Republic, where he fulfilled several important functions in the Church. He became Neercassel's successor on October 9, 1688, and was consecrated in Malines as archbishop of Sebaste[ix] on February 6, 1686.[x] It should be noted that Codde, in an interview he had with the papal internuncio previous to his consecration as archbishop, refused to sign the Formulary of Pope Alexander VII.[xi] With him Jansenism got a sort of foothold in the clandestine Church of the Republic.
6. A deviant pastor
Yet another name must be mentioned in this context, that of Hugo van Heussen. This man was born in The Hague on January 26, 1654, as the son of a wealthy lawyer; Hugo even possessed a mansion near Leiden. He went to school with the Jesuits in Antwerp, but joined the Oratorians on March 30, 1670. Having studied theology in Louvain, he was ordained a priest on April 1, 1679. He too spent some time in Paris, where he became friends with Arnauld and Quesnel. Once back in the Republic, he became Neercassel's principal assistant; he lived then in Leiden. Because Rome doubted his orthodoxy, he did not succeed Neercassel. Instead, he acted as parish priest in Leiden; from 1694 he was also archpriest of Rhineland.[xii]
Van Heussen had his own statie in his house at the Hooigracht in Leiden. He used the vernacular, which was unusual and forbidden, mostly considered as `Protestant', for the administration of baptism and the Last Rites, and also during marriage and burial ceremonies (but not in the Mass). He was evidently a deviant.
With Codde's appointment as vicarius a period of polarisation began. He was accused of favouring those priests who came from Louvain. There were also complaints that those priests, and also Codde himself, were not free of Jansenism. Since the vicarius did not react to these complaints, his opponents appealed to Rome. The Congregation de Propaganda Fide,[xiii] under whose supervision the Dutch Church came, being always afraid to provoke a schism, did not take action.
The first great attack on Codde's position came from the side of Theodorus de Cock. This is characteristic for the change that was taking place, for this same De Cock had recommended Codde to Rome in 1687. He was the son of a corn merchant in Utrecht and studied theology in Rome. The Propaganda Fide asked him for information about Codde in 1694. The resulting memorandum, dated May 21, 1694, and signed by De Cock and seven other priests, was devastating for the vicarius. One item of the accusations was that the sermons of several priests, creatures of Codde and all mentioned by name, were heterodox: they questioned papal infallibility and the supremacy of the Holy See. It was also brought forward that some priests were inordinately severe in the confessional. Yet another point of accusation was that Codde did not publish papal condemnations of Jansenism. Codde got the opportunity to defend himself amd did so with success; no action was undertaken against him.
8. The offensive resumed
The opposition resumed the offensive in 1697. In that year an anonymous document appeared, the Breve memoriale, published in Delft.[xiv] It described the progress of Jansenism in the Church of the Republic. The author was in all probability a Jesuit, Franciscus Verbiest, with the assistance of another Jesuit, Norbertus Aerts. It was a summary of a much longer document, the Prolixum memoriale, composed by Adriaan van Wijck, a priest who was the most fanatical opponent of Jansenism in the Republic. This document, which circulated only in manuscript, contained hundreds of testimonies.[xv]
A first group of testimonies referred to statements about predestination. Parish priests were mentioned who said in the chair that Christ had not died for all men and that only a small number of Christians received sufficient grace for being saved. An inhabitant of Gorcum, who sat listening to a sermon by his parish priest, Balthasar van Wevelinckhoven, asked himself whether he was not sitting among the audience of a Reformed pastor in the Great Church of his city. The parish priest of Makkum in Frisia was complimented by a Reformed man, who happened to hear his sermon, because he could not have explained Calvinistic doctrine more clearly.[xvi]
b. The use of the vernacular
A second group of objections referred to the use of the vernacular in Bible reading and in the liturgy. The Council of Trent had stipulated in 1562 that reading the Bible in the vernacular was only allowed to ordinary faithful, if they had a permission of their bishop or of the Inquisition. Yet this was hard to sustain in a religiously mixed society like the Republic. Someone's Protestant neighbour had a Dutch Bible, read in it, and quoted from it, but a Catholic was not allowed to do the same. Many parish priests used a fair measure of latitude in this respect. Neercassel thought that the Roman prohibition only applied to wrong interpretations, like the Luther Bible, but not to reading the Bible as such. He and also Codde did not want the Protestants to say that Catholics rejected the Bible. Yet the objectors, mainly from the regular clergy, also had a point, when they brought forward that Protestant free Bible reading had led to many controversies and even to schisms in the Protestant community.
Many secular priests used the vernacular also in the liturgy, not in the Mass, but for burials and wedding ceremonies. Other parish priests objected to popular forms of devotion, saying the rosary, for instance, or the veneration of the saints. The already mentioned recalcitrant pastor Van Wevelinckhoven asked a boy what he preferred: an indulgence or a cake.[xvii] However, if those clerics thought they were pandering to a new general religious sentiment among Dutch Roman Catholics, they were wrong.
Evennet forcefully argues that the Counter-Reformation was "first and foremost a powerful religious movement with the institutional reforms coming in the second place. The Protestant Reformation was not only a challenge to the Church but also a stimulus. The Reformation may be described as a massive attempt to bring people closer to God. The Counter-Reformation did not stay behind in this respect. On both sides of the frontier a new religiosity developed; on the Protestant side it was more biblically fed, on the Catholic side it was more devotional. New or remodelled forms of devotion - saying the Rosary, Benediction, Adoration of the Holy Sacrament - had become very popular."[xviii] That Dutch Jansenism had no affinity with this new religiosity is the main reason why it never became a mass movement.
c. Confessional practice
A third group of objectors referred to confessional practice. As mentioned before, rigorist Jansenist pastors would give the absolution for all kinds of sins, even for venial sins only if the penitent's contrition was `perfect'. If there was fear of the consequences instead of a sincere love of God, then the contrition was not perfect. When the penitent the next time confessed the same sins, this was taken as a sign that his or her love of God was not sincere, so the result was refusal of the absolution. This made people doubt if there was forgiveness of their sins at all. Faithful who complained about these practices to Codde were told that they were `rebels'.[xix]
9. Codde suspended
Having become acquainted with these documents, Rome installed a commission of cardinals to investigate the matter; this commission cited Codde to Rome on September 25, 1699. The vicarius tried to procrastinate: his health was poor, he could read but not speak Latin, he had little Italian, and, but this he did not say, he feared the outcome. Yet finally he had to go; he departed in September 1700 and arrived in Rome in December. There was a new Pope since November 23, Clement XI, who, as cardinal Albano, had been chairman of the commission. This spelt little good!
Codde defended himself extensively in writing, but he did this clumsily, for he dodged the questions. Meanwhile, in February 1701, a Dutch petition against Codde and his management of affairs arrived in Rome, framed, in all probability, by his enemy De Cock. It was signed by twenty-three priests.[xx] This was followed in August by another document, this one in Codde's favour; it was signed by three hundred and three priests, who, with the exception of fourteen regulars, were all secular priests.[xxi] It should not be thought that they were all Jansenists. In any case all this demonstrated how much this conflict was also one between the secular and regular clergy.
On May 6, 1702, Codde must appear before the commission of cardinals. He was asked to sign the Formulary of Alexander VII and to acknowledge papal infallibility, both without making reservations. Yet Codde did make reservations. With regard to the Formulary he said that Jansenius had not taught the condemned propositions; of papal infalliblity he said that this was not a dogma of the Church, although he admitted that it was a generally accepted tenet of the faith. He will have realized that his case was now lost. The next day, May 7, he was suspended a divinis in a plenary session of the Propaganda fide; Theodorus de Cock was appointed as provicarius in his place. This will have chagrined him more than anything else.[xxii]
10. Protest in the Republic
As soon as this news became known in the Republic a movement of protest developed. Clerics from the still existing dioceses of Haarlem and Utrecht assembled in Amsterdam in June 1702; they decided not to recognize De Cock. Then a letter came, dated June 21, from Giovanni Bussi, the papal internuncio in Brussels, urgently requesting them to recognize De Cock and to obey the Pope. Yet the protesters assembled again on July 2 and resolved to give their allegiance to Codde and not to De Cock. Another letter from the internuncio arrived on July 27, this time peremptorily ordering them to obey the Pope. They refused.[xxiii]
The war of the pamphlets broke out once again in all vehemence. Most of the authors remained anonymous; they did not mince their words, either pro or contra. During the seventeenth century Dutch Roman Catholics had kept as low a profile as possible, but now the opposition party appealed to the authorities. On August 17, 1702, the Estates of Holland and West Frisia issued a decree forbiding De Cock to exercize his function; Catholics who recognized him would be fined or even imprisoned. De Cock soon realized what this meant: every new vicarius needed official approbation; all regulars had to leave the country (but many did not depart).[xxiv] By a decree of August 8, 1703, a prize was even set on De Cock's head; this was not a fatwa that he should be killed, but he must be arrested. The Estates of Utrecht made this decree valid also for their province, but the States General remained neutral.[xxv]
11. Codde's demise
Codde returned to the Republic and arrived in Utrecht on June 26, 1703; he did, however, not exercize his jurisdiction again. His dismissal from his vicariate followed on April 2, 1704. In order to defend his orthodoxy, he addressed all Catholics in the Republic in two letters, dated March 19 and August 20, 1704. By doing this and perhaps in spite of himself, he made himself, says Rogier, into a centre of resistance.[xxvi] Unreconciled with the Church, he died in Utrecht on December 10, 1710. Only a week earlier he had signed his last protest to his co-religionists.[xxvii]
Rogier describes him as a weak man who was the stooge of the opposition rather than its leader. He used to express himself in a half-hearted way, which, says Rogier, makes reading him an irritating business. He was not an eminent theologian. Yet it must also be said of him that he was industrious as a prelate, visiting all the staties of the Dutch Republic.[xxviii]
12. A painful situation
Difficult and painful as the situation was, there was a yet no schism. The appointment of Codde's successor as vicarius, Gerard Potcamp, on November 14, 1705, was greeted with approval by all parties, but he died already a month later, on December 16. It lasted until February 8, 1707, before Rome appointed Adam Daemen as vicarius. Not all Dutch clerics recognized him; they considered him as an intruder, a creature of the Roman Curia; they kept campaiging for Codde. It was thought that the Jesuits were behind his appointment. They appealed to the Estates of Holland and West Frisia who always got a red film before their eyes, when they heard of Jesuits; by a decree of July 19, 1708, they expelled the Jesuits from their territory. Some went; others stayed.
Van Bilsen describes the situation as follows. The great majority of the clergy (and of the laypeople) remained true to Rome. Yet a small group of priests must be considered as dissident. Because the Republic was mission territory, it came under the direct responsibility of the Propaganda Fide. The dissidents did not recognize this; they judged that the jurisdiction over the faithful belonged to the bishops, and since there no Dutch bishops, to the chapters, in this case those of Haarlem and Utrecht. They claimed the right to elect a bishop. Rome realized that the opposition would never give in. In Decembner 1708 the nuncio in Cologne, who had the supervision over the greater part of the Republic, forbade all communicatio in sacris with dissident priests; this was followed in January 1709 by a prohibition to visit their churches. This meant that Dutch Catholics might not attend Mass there, go to confession, etc. Some priests were excommunicated.
The Utrecht chapter became the centre of resistance. It acted as though Rome did not exist, attempting to exercize its jurisdiction as widely as possible, even beyond the confines of the diocese of Utrecht. The only ecclesiastical element that was still failing was a bishop. In 1724 the canons of Utrecht finally took the last irrevocable step: on April 27 they elected Cornelis Steenoven (1662-1725), parish priest in Amersfoort, as bishop of Utrecht. They asked Rome for his confirmation, but no answer came. Steenoven was consecrated in a private house in Amsterdam by a French mission bishop who, as a Jansenist, had been suspended. The bishops of the Spanish Netherlands were invited to attend the ceremony, but they all abstained. The `Schism of Utrecht' was a fact now. In 1742 Haarlem got also a bishop, and Deventer in 1758.
The `Church of Utrecht' was independent from Rome now; it called itself the oud-bisschoppelijke clerisie', a term that is difficult to translate. My dictionary dodges the question by saying `the Jansenists'. Let us try: `the old-episcopal clergy'. It had its own archbishop, later two more bishops, its own priests and staties, and its own seminary (in Amersfoort, where it still is). The `Church of Utrecht' had no intercourse with the `Church of Rome' in the Republic; the separation was dualistic. It is estimated that in 1723 about 15 % of the priests acknowledged Steenoven; among laypeople the percentage was much smaller, in Amsterdam about 8 %.[xxix]
Nasty incidents took place, when Jansenists took over staties. Let me describe two of them. In Roelofarendsveen, a village in the province of South Holland, there were twelve or thirteen `Utrechters' and eighty Roman Catholics. Its parish priest was since 1712 Joannes de Witt. The new archbishop of Utrecht (Steenoven had died already in 1725), Joannes Barchman Wuytiers (1693-1733, archbishop 1725-1733), visited the village in November 1726. Seeing the door of the priesthouse open, he walked in. The astonished De Witt wanted to know him why he came. Barchman asked whether he had received a letter from the local bailiff. No? Then he would soon have one. This letter arrived in due time: it told De Witt and his assistant to evacuate the priesthouse at the shortest possible notice and to no longer conduct services in the statie.
The new parish priest arrived on November 22; his name was Jacobus de Pré. Two days later he celebrated for the first time Mass in the statie, but only a handful of the faithful attended. Most Catholics went to neighbouring villages to hear Mass. In the afternoon they came to their own church, where they found De Pré explaining the cathechism to some children. They went in; they sat there and talked and even smoked. When De Pré ordered them to keep silence, hell was raised against him; he fled, with the villagers behind him who threatened him with their cudgels and pelting him with stones. They only left him in peace, when he promised never to return. En passant they paid a visit to the house of a Jansenist, where they destroyed all the porcelain. Six people were apprehended and imprisoned in The Hague, where they were scourged and some of them pilloried. In spite of his promise De Pré did return, because he knew that he had the support of the authorities. When he died in 1772, he had a congregation of twelve people.
The second incident to be related occurred in the Roman Catholic orphanage for boys in Amsterdam.[xxx] The orphanage dates from 1682; in 1686 it moved to the location where it was to remain until the last decades of the twentieth century, namely, to the Lauriergracht (no. 105) in the centre of the city. Originally the orphans were housed in some private houses standing there, but between 1701 and 1725 the still existing complex was built. The institution had its own chapel and an intern priest with his own living accommodation.
From 1701 to 1724 the housepriest was Daniel Meynaerts, a man with Jansenist sympathies; this did, however, not cause problems. He died on February 14 and already the next day a new priest presented himself, Cornelis Verheul, sent by the Jansenist clerezie. The regents, all wealthy Roman Catholic citizens of Amsterdam, protested to the municipality, but, like the Estates of Holland, the city fathers were on the hand of the Jansenist archbishop. The regents then forbade the children to attend the services in the chapel and directed them to staties in the city for Sunday Masses . It chagrined the regents not a little that they were ordered to pay Verheul's salary.
Pastor Verheul died on February 15, 1741; the regents tried to use the occasion to get the old situation restored. Although the city fathers knew perfectly well that only a small percentage of the Amsterdam Catholics had gone over to the clerezie, they again appointed a Jansenist, Henricus Millius, as pastor of the orphanage. When he died on November 25, 1772, the regents petitioned the Jansenist bishop of Haarlem, Joannes Stiphout, arguing that they needed their own housepriest, because the orphans could still not attend Mass in their own chapel. Yet Stiphout appointed one of his own priests, Henricus Louburg, and the situation remained as it was.
Since the clerezie had ever fewer priests, Louburg did not only serve the orphanage, but also a statie in town. When he let his father, an artisan, live in the priesthouse, the regents promptly stated that he had to pay rent for his lodgings, but he protested to the burgomasters, who decided that he need not pay rent. After 1778 Louburg never set a foot in the chapel; it stood empty. The regents sent request after request to the burgomasters; at last the city fathers realized that they were supporting a hardly existing cause. On May 18, 1782, the chapel and the priesthouse were restored to the regents; a Catholic priest, Johannes Andreas Offermans, was appointed as housepriest. He celebrated on May 30 a solemn High Mass, concluded with a triumphant Te Deum. The orphans had been deprived of their chapel for fifty-eight years.
Parallel with this history runs that of the Roman Catholic orphanage for girls, the so-called Maagdenhuis, the Virgins' House, that was since 1629 located on the Spui.[xxxi] When the Jansenist archbishop Barchman appointed a certain De Haan as pastor of this house, the regents protested to the municipality, but in vain. The opposition of the Catholics was so vehement that the police had to conduct De Haan to the orphanage. A mob had assembled that threatened to throw him into the water of the Spui. Policemen had to guard his lodgings in the orphanage. When he celebrated Mass in the chapel for the first time, it was full of rumorous people who obstructed the service to the best of their abilities. Three policemen had to stand next to the altar to protect the priest. Later the chapel remained practically empty; the girls attended Mass elsewhere in the city. Finally the old situation was restored also here.[xxxii]
15. The later history of Dutch Jansenism
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries there were several attempts at reconciliation with Rome, but they all failed, because the standpoints were irreconcilable. The Jansenist community, always a minority, became ever the smaller in the course of the decades. Varying numbers are given for the end of the century: six thousand, ten thousand? In 1806 the nuncio in Cologne sent a detailed report to Rome. According to him the clerezie had 4958 members then, with thirty-seven parishes in twenty-eight towns. A statie with eighgty members (Leiden, for instance) was already a large one, but there were also with sixty, forty, twenty, and still fewer members. In Leeuwarden, the capital of Frisia, there were only five members. Of the six initial parishes of Amsterdam only four were left. Compare this to the numbers of Roman Catholic faithful and their parishes. There were in 1806 331.233 Catholics (on a total population of two million), with three hundred and seventy-one parishes and five hundred and thirty-nine priests.[xxxiii] Many members of the clerezie returned to the old fold.
Rome restored the episcopal hierarchy in the Kingdom of the Netherlands on March 4, 1853. For the first time since the beginning of the war against Spain Dutch Roman Catholics had their own bishops, even an archbishop of Utrecht; their country no longer was mission territory. This meant that the still dwindling Jansenist community was relegated to the sideline. On July 13, 1870, the First Vatican Council proclaimed papal infallibility as a dogma of the Church. Not all Catholics, priests as well as laypeople, agreed. The protest movement was strongest in Germany, where the protesters called themselves `Old Catholics', because they were of the opinion that of old the Church had not known this dogma. Naturally, the faithful of the clerezie felt affinity with this group, but they realized that these Germans were not Jansenists.
In April 1871 a pastor of the clerezie in The Hague, C.H. van Vlooten, sought contact with the German Old Catholics. He wrote that there was since long an Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands (this was the first time that the term `Old Catholic' was used for the clerezie). He forcefully denied that it was a Jansenist sect and that it had a French pedigree - conveniently forgetting that Arnauld and Quesnel had stood at the cradle of the clerezie. The result of intense contacts with the Germans was that the ancien clerezie continued its existence as `Old Catholic Church'.[xxxiv] There are Old Catholic Churches in Germany, France, Switzerland, England, Poland, the US, and other countries. Together they form the `Union of Utrecht'. In 1947 there were still ten thousand Old Catholics in the Netherlands, with twenty-five parishes.[xxxv] One of the largest comnunities is that of Egmond aan Zee, a fishing village in the province of North Holland; in the thirties of the twentieth century it boasted a membership of eighteen hundred faithful.[xxxvi] Today there are no more than seven thousand Old Catholics in the Netherlands.
The Old Catholic Church considers itself to be one of the four branches of the Church of Christ, the other three being the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Greek Orthodox Church. It sees itself as the direct continuation and successor of the Church that was founded by St.Willibrord, the apostle and patron saint of the Netherlands; it holds its doctrine to be the most purely Catholic, in contrast to that of the Roman Catholic Church. The popular opinion is that Old Catholics are Catholics who do not recognize the Pope. This is certainly true, but there is far more. It is an episcopal Church; it has bishops. It is based on the Bible and the ecclesiastical traditions, but it recognizes only the seven ecumenical councils of the period before 1054 (separation of the Churches of East and West). It does not recognize the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council. It therefore rejects Trent's condemnation of the Reformation as heretical, and also the dogmas of papal infallibility, the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary.
The Old Catholic Church does not know the sacrament of confession but, instead, a sacrament of penance. This means that it is not the priest acting in the name of Jesus Christ, who forgives the sins. The civil wedding ceremony is considered as entirely valid; the Church only blesses an already existing bond. The language of the Mass, the sacraments and the liturgy is since 1909 the vernacular. The Old Catholic Church has drifted far away from the Roman Catholic Church, but also from the original Jansenism of the eighteenth century.[xxxvii]
Histoire du Christianisme. Bd. 9 L'âge de la raison. Paris (1992).
ACKERMANS, Gian, Herders en huurlingen. Bisschoppen en priesters in de Republiek (1663-1705). Amterdam, 2003.
BILSEN, B. van, Het schisma van Utrecht. Serie: Batavia sacra. Utrecht/Brussel, 1949.
FRIJHOFF, Willem, Histoire du Christianisme. IX. L'âge de la raison.
ROGIER, L.J., Geschiedenis van het Katholicisme in Noord-Nederland in de 16de en 17de eeuw. Amsterdam, 1947².
[i].. It happened that there were not enough candidates for some function, so that Catholics had to be called in. However, after 1578 there has never been a Catholic burgomaster of Amsterdam, not even to this day.
[ii].. Frijhoff, Histoire du Christianisme IX, L`âge de la raison, Ch. I. § V.1, 67: "Contrairement aux idées reçues, les Provinces-Unies - en gros le territoire des actuels Pays-Bas - n'ont jamais été un État calvinste au sens propre. Depuis l'introduction de la Réforme calviniste au dernier quart du XVIe siècle, le pouvoir politique ne s'y est jamais confondu avec le pouvoir religieux. Il est vrai que l`Église réformée occupait une position particulière, mais elle n'a pas réussi à convaincre l`État de s'identifier à ses idées et interêts et de reprendre sans discussion ses normes de conduite dans la vie publique."
[iii].. See for this passage Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 11/12; Ackermans, Herders en huurlingen 13/14.
[iv].. Ackermans, Herders and huurlingen 70-72.
[v].. Ackermans, Herders and huurlingen 15.
[vi].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 23.
[vii].. He generated a lot of controversial literature during his lifetime, but there is no modern biography.
[viii].. Rogier, Geschiedenis van het Katholicisme II, 278.
[ix].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 21.
[x].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 24-28.
[xi].. Ackermans, Herders en huurlingen 0113.
[xii].. This is not the German Rhineland, but the southern part of the province of Holland. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 25; Ackermans, Herders and huurlingen 0260/0261.
[xiii].. Now called the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
[xiv].. In full, Breve memoriale extractum ex prolixiore de statu et progressu Jansenismi in Hollandia. A Dutch translation appeared in 1705.
[xv].. The Prolixum memorialeis in the possession of the Biblioteca Fabroniana in Pistoia (It), Ackermans, Herders en huurlingen 217-219.
[xvi].. Ackermans, Herders and huurlingen 219-221.
[xvii].. Ackermans, Herders en huurlingen 221-224.
[xviii].. Evenett, Counter-Reformation Spirituality.
[xix].. Ackermans, Herders en huurlingen 224-228.
[xx].. Ackermans, Herders en huurlingen 260-264.
[xxi].. Ackermans, Herders en huurlingen 264-168.
[xxii].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 35-38.
[xxiii].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 40.
[xxiv].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 41.
[xxv].. Rogier, Geschiedenis van het Katholicisme II, 322/323.
[xxvi].. Rogier, Geschiedenis van het Katholicisme II, 326.
[xxvii].. Rogier, Geschiedenis van het Katholicisme II, 327/328.
[xxviii].. Rogier, Geschiedenis van het Katholicisme II, 328-330.
[xxix].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 85.
[xxx].. This relation is based on three sources. My father (1893-1970), who was director of the orphanage from 1925 to 1954, wrote three articles about this affair in the no longer existing periodical BWO Richtlijnen; they appeared in the issues of August, September, and October 1936. The issues of August and October are in my possession; that of September has disappeared. The second source is the history of the orphanage by J.L. de Jager, In een ander thuis. De pedagogische geschiedenis van het R.C. Jongensweeshuis en Amstelstad in Amsterdam (1985), 23-25. The third source is a little book by F.W.J.M. Zijp, Enige hoofdstukken uit de geschiedenis van het R.K. Jongensweeshuis te Amsterdam (1968), Chs. IV-VII.
[xxxi].. Its imposing building was built by Abraham van der Hart in 1787; it is now the main seat of the University of Amsterdam.
[xxxii].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 85/86.
[xxxiii].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 121.
[xxxiv].. Its official name, however, is still `The Roman Catholic Church of the old-episcopal cleresie'.
[xxxv].. There is an Old Catholic parish in Amsterdam, in the Ruysdaeltraat.
[xxxvi].. In August 1934, when I was thirteen, I was with my parents in a summerhouse in Egmond aan Zee. Wanting to hear Mass on our first Sunday there I found a large church. I went in; High Mass was just beginning. To my utter astonishment the service was wholly in Dutch, which is quite normal now also in Roman Catholic churches, but then it was almost heretical. Rather confused I left the building and was told at home that I had been among Old Catholics.
[xxxvii].. Van Bilsen, Schisma van Utrecht 179.