Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands

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Dioceses in the Netherlands

The Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands ( Dutch Rooms-Katholiek Kerkgenootschap ) is part of the Roman Catholic Church .


Catholics in the Netherlands
year population Catholics %
1970 13,305,802 5,320,000 40.5%
1980 12,447,882 5,620,000 39.5%
1990 15,027,027 5,560,000 37.0%
2000 15,987,075 5,060,413 31.6%
2010 16,664,000 4,166,000 25.0%
2017 17,133,000 3,943,000 23.0%

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest denominational community in the Netherlands . In 2014, there were around 3.943 million Catholics in the Netherlands (or 23.3% of the total population), and an average of around 214,000 attended mass on Sunday (as of December 31, 2014). In two dioceses, 's-Hertogenbosch and Roermond , the Catholics make up the majority of the population.

At 2,530, the number of church weddings in 2013 was a third of the value in 2003. In 2013, 17,530 children in the Netherlands were accepted into the Roman Catholic Church through baptism .

The Roman Catholic Church is represented by the Dutch Bishops' Conference ; The chairman is Hans van den Hende , Bishop of Rotterdam . The Holy See is represented by a nunciature ; The Apostolic Nuncio has been the Italian Archbishop Aldo Cavalli since 2015 .


The Roman Catholic in the Netherlands consists of a church province with seven dioceses. The archbishop is also a primate .

Members and Church Goers (2008)
Diocese Members Members as% of the total population Number of church visitors Sunday church-goers as a percentage of the total population
Groningen-Leeuwarden 0109,000 06.1% 007.120 0.4%
Utrecht (Archdiocese) 0757,000 19.0% 063,850 0.9%
Haarlem-Amsterdam 0474,000 16.6% 026,380 0.9%
Rotterdam 0522,000 14.6% 027,800 0.8%
Breda 0448,000 40.2% 024,920 1.3%
's-Hertogenbosch 1,140,000 55.2% 046,050 2.2%
Roermond 0871,000 72.8% 036,640 3.3%
Netherlands 4,267,000 25.9% 192,570 1.2%


Eighty Years War

In the Eighty Years' War between the rebellious Dutch provinces and the Spanish king, the Reformed had political power in the rebellious areas. The bishops and many priests had to flee from the rebels' sphere of influence. The areas ruled by the rebels became mission lands, i.e. areas without a Catholic church structure. Catholic services could only take place there in " Schuilkerken " (hidden churches).

In 1621 the war continued after a twelve-year armistice. The rebels conquered areas in the south of today's Netherlands, the majority of which were Catholic: 's-Hertogenbosch in Brabant (1629) and Venlo , Roermond and Maastricht in Limburg (1632). Under pressure from religious reformers, Catholicism was banned in 's-Hertogenbosch, even though the city was a bishopric. In Venlo, Roermond and Maastricht, on the other hand, the practice of Catholicism was allowed - alongside Protestantism.

From the Peace of Munster to the French Revolution

On January 30, 1648, the Peace of Munster was signed, which largely laid down the existing situation. The Republic of the Seven United Netherlands (the rebellious provinces) gained formal independence from the Spanish king.

At the time, about a third of the republic's population was Catholic while the majority of the population was Reformed.

In the course of the 17th century, Catholics, Remonstrants , the Mennonites in the Netherlands and Lutherans in practice enjoyed freedom of worship in buildings that were not recognizable as churches. During this period there were laws against Catholics, but these laws became less and less strictly applied over time.

In the 17th and early 18th centuries there were conflicts within the Catholic Church over Jansenism . These conflicts (and others) led to the Utrecht Schism in 1723 and the emergence of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands .

French Revolution and French Influence

The Republic of the United Netherlands was occupied by French Revolutionary troops. Supporters of the revolution founded the Batavian Republic . This republic came under French influence over the next few years. Napoleon converted it into the Kingdom of Holland in June 1806 and made it part of France in July 1810 .

On July 15, 1801, Napoleon and the Holy See signed a concordat that brought reconciliation between France and the Catholic Church. As a result, the situation of Catholics in the French-ruled Netherlands also improved. Religious freedom for Catholics was restored and many church property was returned.

Kingdom of the Netherlands

After Napoleon's reign ended in 1815, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands was founded at the Congress of Vienna . It essentially comprised the area of ​​what is now the Benelux countries . The northern part of the kingdom was predominantly Reformed, the southern part predominantly Catholic.

Between 1815 and 1830 there were repeated tensions between the Catholic Church and the Dutch King Wilhelm I. The king tried to influence the church. It was said that he was striving for an Anglican church model.

In 1827 the Dutch King Wilhelm I and the Vatican signed a concordat that was supposed to improve the legal position of the Catholic Church. Because of the Protestant resistance and because of the Belgian uprising of 1830, this concordat was not implemented. In the first half of the 19th century, the Catholic politicians collaborated with the liberals . The common goal was the democratization of the state against the authoritarian style of government of King Wilhelm I.

In the revolutionary year of 1848 , the liberal politician Thorbecke reformed the constitution of the Netherlands on behalf of King Wilhelm II . The freedom of church organization was recognized. In 1853, under Prime Minister Thorbecke, the episcopal hierarchy was restored. Five jurisdictions were (re) established: Utrecht as an archbishopric and the dioceses of Haarlem, 's-Hertogenbosch, Breda and Roermond. Protests against it came from the April Movement. These protests led to Thorbecke's removal from office as prime minister. On the school issue, Catholics and Liberals took opposite positions: Catholics demanded the right to denominational schools, while Liberals opposed it. The school question and the fall of Thorbecke led to the fact that the Catholic and the liberal politicians became estranged from one another and increasingly became political opponents.

From around 1850 until the beginning of the First World War, the Catholic Church was characterized by strong anti-modernism and a strong bond with Rome (“ ultramontanism ”).

In the mid-19th century, the pillarisation sat ( pillarization ) a. The Catholics began to organize themselves more socially and politically.

The Catholic Church had many new churches built. Nowhere in the Netherlands was the birth rate as high as in the two predominantly Catholic provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg ; as a result, the proportion of Catholics in the total Dutch population rose sharply. At that time it was considered a tradition that every second son assumed the priesthood . The Catholic "pillar" appeared politically as a unit (75% of the North Brabants voted for the Katholieke Volkspartij ), which stimulated Catholic emancipation in the traditionally Calvinist Netherlands; the interests of North Brabant were better represented. During this period of North Brabant history, the Church was also heavily involved in overseas missions (see e.g. Steyler Mission ); the era is referred to by historians (and the North Brabants) as Rijke Roomse Leven ("rich Roman life").

The Catholic politician Herman Schaepman founded the Rooms-Katholieke Staatspartij in 1896 , later the Katholieke Volkspartij . Schaepman tried successfully for a political alliance with the ARP ( Anti-Revolutionaire Partij ) of Abraham Kuyper , although this party was Protestant and anti-Catholic. A common goal was the right to denominational schools. This cooperation lasted until the common goal was achieved (around 1920). Thereafter, there were considerations in Catholic circles to work with the SDAP (socialists), but this was only implemented after the Second World War .

After 1945, the importance of denominational affiliation decreased significantly, so that the "pillaring" gradually came to an end. The onset of secularization initially hit the Protestant milieu more strongly, but from the beginning of the 1970s it also hit the Catholics. The three denominational parties ARP, CHU and KVP worked more and more closely together and thus ensured the Christian Democracy a strong influence in Dutch politics until they finally united in 1980 to form the Christian Democratisch Appèl (CDA).

From 1966 to 1970 a pastoral council (Pastoraal Concilie van de Nederlandse Kerkprovincie) deliberated in Noordwijkerhout on how the resolutions of the Second Vatican Council were to be implemented in the Catholic Church of the Netherlands. In protest of the Apostolic Nuncio in the Netherlands, Angelo Felici , the Pastoral Council voted with a large majority to abolish the priestly celibacy obligation. Despite the majority abstention, the bishops, led by Cardinal Bernard Jan Alfrink of Utrecht, declared themselves ready to present the result in Rome. Pope Paul VI expressed "deeply saddened".

The resolution subsequently led to completely disordered conditions - such that priests married and continued to exercise their office with or without the permission of the responsible local bishop - and massive resignations. As a result, Pope John Paul II convened a Dutch particular synod in Rome in 1979. There the majority of the Dutch bishops decided to declare the results of the Pastoral Council of Noordwijkerhout null and void.

See also


  • Nederland. In: Encyclopedie van het Christendom in twee delen. Katholiek deel. Amsterdam / Brussels 1956. (Dutch)
  • Franz Petri, Ivo Schöffer , Jan Juliaan Woltjer: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. Munich 1991, ISBN 3-423-04571-X .
  • Joannes Domenicus Maria Cornelissen, Regnerus (Reinier) Richardus Post, Antonius Johannes Maria Polman (ed.): Romeinsche bronnen voor den kerkelijken toestand der Nederlanden onder de apostolische vicarissen, 1592–1727 . 4 volumes. Nijhoff, 's-Gravenhage 1932–1955.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Katholiek Sociaal-Kerkelijk Institut (KASKI): Aantal catholic as of December 31 , accessed on May 25, 2019.
  2. KASKI report 636 , December 31, 2013 (Dutch)
  3. Mgr. Cavalli nieuwe nuntius voor Nederland , Katholiek Nieuwsblad , March 21, 2015, accessed on May 25, 2019.
  4. Catholic Church Statistics / 2008 Annual Report  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF) KASKI (Statistics Office of the Dutch Church)@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  5. Nederland. In: Encyclopedie van het Christendom in twee delen. Katholiek deel. Amsterdam, Brussels 1956. (Dutch)
  6. ^ Franz Petri and others: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. P. 40
  7. ^ Franz Petri among others: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. P. 41
  8. ^ Franz Petri and others: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. P. 42
  9. ^ Franz Petri and others: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. P. 39
  10. ^ Encyclopedie van het Christendom in twee delen. Katholiek deel.
  11. Oud-Katholieke Kerk. In: Encyclopedie van het Christendom in twee delen. Katholiek deel.
  12. ^ Franz Petri and others: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. P. 96 f.
  13. ^ Franz Petri among others: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. P. 90
  14. a b c d e f g h Encyclopedie van het Christendom in twee delen. Katholiek deel. Pp. 110-112
  15. ^ Franz Petri and others: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. P. 108
  16. CAJM Kortmann: Constitutioneel right. 4th edition. Kluwer, Deventer 2001, p. 89.
  18. ^ Franz Petri and others: History of the Netherlands - Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg. P. 172
  19. Church and Life: When the Dutch Abolished Celibacy 50 Years ago , December 29, 2019.