- Roman Catholicism in the Netherlands
The Catholic Church in the Netherlands is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the
Popeand curiain Rome. Although the number of Catholics in the Netherlands has decreased in recent decades, the Dutch Catholic Church is by far the largest religious group in the Netherlands. Once known as a Protestant country, nowadays Protestants make up only 16.8 percent of the Dutch population. There are an estimated 4.352 million Catholics (31 December 2006) in the Netherlands, 26.6% of the population. The number of Catholics in the Netherlands has decreased in recent decades, and the number of parishes has decreased: from 1,744 in 1990 to 1,425 in 2006.
Sunday church attendance by Catholics has decreased in recent decades to less than 200,000 or 1.2 % of the Dutch population in 2006 (source [http://www.ru.nl/kaski/kerkelijke/statistiek/ KASKI – the official Dutch Catholic statistics source] ).
There are seven
dioceses in the Netherlands.
The population of the two southern dioceses (
diocese of Den Boschand diocese of Roermond) is in majority Roman-Catholic.
List of Roman Catholic dioceses of the Netherlands
Reformation, Dutch Catholics had largely been confined to certain southern areas in the Netherlands where they still tend to form a majority or large minority of the population. However, with modern population shifts and a furthering secularization, these areas tend to be less and less predominantly Catholic. Catholics still form a majority in the two southern provinces of the Netherlands, Noord-Brabantand Limburg, refer the overview by diocese above.
Historically In the old days, catholics like all the other non-protestant religions have been treated as second class citizens as they formed a minority in the dominant Protestant Netherlands. In turn catholics treated protestants as second class citizens in those areas where catholics were the majority.
After the Dutch Republic banned the Catholic religion in the 1580s the Netherlands became a Mission territory under the canonical authority of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (the so-called
Dutch Mission). The episcopalhierarchy was not restored until 1853.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth catholics formed a separate social pillar, with their own schools, TV and radio broadcasting, hospitals, unions and political parties. They formed a coalition with orthodox Protestants, who also felt discriminated. This pillarization and coalition government was important in emancipating the Catholics from their social exclusion. In the period between 1860-1960 Roman Catholic church life and institutions flourished. This period is called "the rich Roman life" (Dutch: "Het Rijke Roomse leven").
In the 1980s and 1990s the church became polarized between conservatives and liberals. The main organization of the latter was the
8 May movement, (Dutch: "Acht Mei-beweging") that was founded and 1985 initiated by the disputes about the papal visit in that year to the Netherlands. The organization had a difficult relationship with the bishops. It was disbanded in 2003. The main conservative organization was Contact Roman Catholics.
Church adherence declined from 40% in 1970s to 26% in 2006.
Within the Netherlands the hierarchy consists of:
*Utrecht - Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk (since 2007)
**’s Hertogenbosch - Bishop
Antonius Lambertus Maria Hurkmans(since 1998)
**Breda - Bishop
Johannes van den Hende(since 2007)
**Groningen-Leeuwarden - Bishop Willem Jacobus Eijk (since 1999) (
Apostolic administratorsince 2007.
**Haarlem - Bishop
Jozef Marianus Punt(since 2001)
**Roermond - Bishop
Frans Jozef Marie Wiertz(since 1993)
**Rotterdam - Bishop
Adrianus Henricus van Luijn(since 1994)
* [http://www.kdc.kun.nl/geschindex_uk.html Information on the History of Dutch Catholicism]
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