Roman Catholicism in the Netherlands
The Catholic Church in the Netherlands (Dutch: rooms-katholiek kerkgenootschap in Nederland (RKK)), is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, Dutch Conference of Bishops, and curia in Rome. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Utrecht, currently Willem Jacobus Eijk, is Primate (bishop) of the Netherlands.
Although the number of Catholics in the Netherlands has decreased significantly in recent decades, the Dutch Catholic Church is today the largest religious group in the Netherlands. Once known as a Protestant country, in 2007 Dutch Protestants made up only 16.8 percent of the Dutch population (down from 60 percent in the early 20th century; defections primarily due to secularization). This is considerably less than the 26 percent of Dutch Catholics in 2007. There are an estimated 4.166 million Catholics (31 December 2010) in the Netherlands, 25.0 percent of the population down from more than 40 percent in 1970's. The number of Catholics in the Netherlands continues to decrease, roughly by half a percent annually, as do the number of Protestants. Muslims, however, continue to increase and are currently 6% of the population.
Sunday church attendance by Catholics has decreased in recent decades to less than 200,000 or 1.2 percent of the Dutch population in 2006 (source KASKI – the official Dutch Roman Catholic statistics source). More recent numbers for Sunday church attendance have not been published (with the exception of the diocese of Roermond), although press releases have mentioned a further decline since 2006.
Notable Dutch Catholics include Ruud Lubbers, Henry of Gorkum, Desiderius Erasmus, Cornelius Loos, Jakob Middendorp, Hieronymus Bosch, Piet de Jong, Jan Harmenszoon Krul, Dries van Agt, Edward Schillebeeckx, Jan Steen, Casimir Ubaghs, Maxime Verhagen, and Joan Albert Ban.
For more demographic details by diocese, see the List of Roman Catholic dioceses of the Netherlands.
|Diocese||Church members||Church members as % of population||Number of Sunday churchgoers||Sunday churchgoers as % of population|
|Roermond (2008) ||817,000||72.8||36,640||3.3|
From the Reformation to the 20th century, 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 increasing 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-Brabant and Limburg (refer the overview by diocese above).
Historically in the old days, Catholics were treated as second class citizens.
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 episcopal hierarchy 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 party. They formed a coalition with orthodox Protestants, who also felt discriminated against. 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"). During this period, the number of Catholics in the Dutch population grew to approximate parity with Protestants, as in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland, and Germany.
In the 1980s and 1990s the church became polarized between conservatives, whose main organization was the Contact Roman Catholics, and liberals, whose main organization was the Eighth of May Movement, (Dutch: "Acht Mei-beweging") which was founded in 1985. The founding of the 8 May Movement was inspired 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. In spite of that, tensions between conservative elements in the Catholic Church and more liberal elements have, as of 2011, not completely disappeared.
Child abuse scandal
In December 2011 a report was published by Wim Deetman, a former Dutch minister, detailing widespread child abuse within the Catholic Church in Holland. 1,800 instances of abuse "by clergy or volunteers within Dutch Catholic dioceses" were reported to have occurred since 1945. According to the report " The risk of experiencing unwanted sexual advances was twice as great for minors in institutions as the national average of 9.7%. This finding reveals no significant difference between Roman Catholic institutions and other institutions. " In March 2012, however, it was revealed that cases of 10 children being chemically castrated after reporting being sexually abused to the police had been left out. It also emerged that in 1956 former prime minister Victor Marijnen, then chairman of a children's home in Gelderland, had covered up the sexual abuse of children. According to the Telegraph newspaper, he "intervened to have prison sentences dropped against several priests convicted of abusing children." The factuality of these claims is unclear, though. The Commission rejected all the claims. 
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 Gerard de Korte (since 2008)
- Haarlem - Bishop Jozef Marianus Punt (since 2001)
- Roermond - Bishop Frans Jozef Marie Wiertz (since 1993)
- Rotterdam - Bishop Adrianus Henricus van Luijn (Apostolic Administrator (since 2011)
- Several annual statistical overviews prepared by KASKI refer www.ru.nl/kaski
- Catholics' number and percentage as of year's end
- KASKI annual report nr. 561, 2006 statistical overview of the Roman Catholic church in the Netherlands, Jolanda Massaar-Remmerswaal and Ton Bernts, October 2007 report in PDF format in Dutch
- KASKI 2008 statistical overview for the Roermond diocese as published on the webpage of the Roermond diocese (in Dutch)
- http://www.trouw.nl/tr/nl/5091/Religie/article/detail/2952221/2011/10/06/Parochie-bereidt-zich-voor-op-een-breuk.dhtml English translation "The conflict between the San Salvator parish and the diocese of Den Bosch may escalate. The faithful may leave the catholic church if the coadjutor bishop will be installed as a pastor at the parish. According to the parish management, the diocese wants to purge all obstinacy from the church by assigning Mutsaerts who has a conservative reputation."
Dutch original: "Het conflict tussen de San Salvatorparochie en het bisdom Den Bosch dreigt te escaleren. De gelovigen overwegen uit de rooms-katholieke kerk te stappen als hulpbisschop Rob Mutsaerts er aantreedt als pastoor. Volgens het kerkbestuur wil het bisdom met de benoeming van Mutsaerts, die bekend staat als conservatief, alle eigenzinnigheid uit de kerk zuiveren."
- "Dutch Roman Catholic Church 'castrated at least 10 boys'". Telegraph. Retrieved March 19, 2012.