Conference: Religious Minorities' Self-Representations

Panel 2B

Catholic Minorities in the Netherlands – a Historical Perspective

Chair: Elza Kuijk (PhD Candidate, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University)
Room: Stijlkamer, Janskerkhof 13

‘The Legal Position of a Deviating Religious Community: Catholics in Utrecht in the First Half of the Seventeenth Century’ – Jan Hallebeek (Professor, Department of Legal Theory and Legal History, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
In the Dutch Republic the Reformed Religion became the prevailing one. Henceforth Catholics had to operate from a disadvantaged, second-class position. Despite constituting a substantial part of the population, they were treated as a minority and an exception to the protestant rule. Were they allowed, however, sufficient space to live in conformity with their faith? A series of edicts, issued by the States-General and by the provincial and municipal authorities, repressed the practice of Catholic faith. It was associated with the Spanish enemy and with the Pope, who was thought to conspire with other monarchs against the Dutch Republic. Moreover, in the forties of the seventeenth century in Utrecht strong anti-Catholic sentiments emerged, which was ascribed to the establishment of a Faculty of Theology. Criminal proceedings were brought against twelve clerics. Some of these were charged with having usurped jurisdiction and by so doing having committed high treason.

‘Citizenship and Limits of Toleration: Catholics’ Self-Representations in Seventeenth-Century Utrecht’ – Genji Yasuhira (PhD candidate, Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, Tilburg University)
After the Protestant Reformation, numerous states/cities in Europe became, at least de-facto, multi-confessional, although religious dissenters were to be seen potential traitors to public authorities. In the Dutch Republic, where only the Reformed Church gained the position as a public church, political authorities under pressure from the public church attempted to exclude religious dissenters from the public sphere. Although Catholics had enjoyed full citizenship before the Dutch Revolt and the Protestant Reformation, lots of their rights in the public sphere of the Dutch Republic were deprived or restrained. How did Catholics represent themselves to survive such an antagonistic situation under the Protestant state? To answer this question, this paper analyses Catholics’ discourses in legal cases in seventeenth-century Utrecht, which was a stronghold both for the Reformed and the Catholic Churches in the Northern Netherlands, by paying special attention to their arguments on citizenship.

‘National, Catholic and International: The Communio Sanctorum in the Hagiography of Engelbertus Lagerwey’ – Peter-Ben Smit (Professor, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University)
How can a minority catholic tradition position itself in the public sphere, especially when taking a marginalized political point of view? This paper explores the work of Engelbertus Lagerwey (1880-1959), an Old Catholic clergyman and bishop, who just prior to and during WWII published a series of hagiographical publications, making legends about “Dutch heroes of God” (title: Helden Gods, 2 vols.) available to a broad audience, as well as two bibliophile editions of a medieval legend and a breviary from the same era. In his work, this paper argues, Lagerwey both claims the catholic tradition and positions it in such a way that he creates a “hidden discourse” concerning the true nature of Dutch nationalism. In doing so, he both claims to speak for the catholic tradition, being a member of a minority church, and creatively represents a a marginalized political voice during Nazi occupation.