Ultrajectine

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Ultrajectine defines the tradition of the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands headquartered at Utrecht, Netherlands. It is used to describe the anti-Papal-primacy and Jansenist tendency of that independent church and its sister churches, which were founded in later centuries (see Old Catholic Churches).[citation needed] Ultrajectine thought[discuss] holds to the words of Vincent of Lérins i Commonitory: "We must hold fast to that faith which has been held everywhere, always, and by all the faithful." Ultrajectine thought rejects papal infallibility and holds to the belief that only the Church in Ecumenical Council may speak infallibly.

Name[edit]

Utrecht was the fortified former Roman limes castellum of Traiectum, which was so named because of its possibility to cross the Rhine.

Origins[edit]

The Ultrajectines are descendants of Jansenists who fled discrimination and legal persecution imposed by Papal Bulls in France and the Southern Netherlands, for refuge in the comparatively tolerant Dutch Republic, which was dominated by Calvinists and therefore theologically more sympathetic towards Jansenism and its salvation doctrine.

The Dutch Republic became a refuge for Jansenists while it was a belligerent in the Eighty Years' War; the Dutch Republic did not countenance clergy, appointed by the Holy See, entering its territory. Since the alternative Catholic theologians were practically the only leaders of the local Catholic congregations left,[citation needed] they quickly rose to prominence within the Catholic laity who required ordained minsters. They were perceived to be loyal civil subjects and were favored by Calvinists and the government. Thus, Jansenist theologians assumed dominant positions in clandestine churches structure in the Dutch Republic. At first, the Papacy countenanced this development.[citation needed] However, as relations between the Dutch Republic and Catholic sovereigns relaxed to a more or less cold war state, the Papacy attempted to restore direct rule of Catholic churches in the Dutch Republic. However, by the early 18th century, the Papacy had ruled that Jansenists were considered to be heretics and demanded the removal of all such theologians in the local Catholic churches in the Dutch Republic. Refusing to submit to the ordinary and immediate jurisdiction of the pope delegated through vicars apostolic, unwilling to lose control of church property, and tending to believe Jansenism, most Catholic churches encouraged their bishops to resist.[citation needed] The Ultrajectine schism culminated as a sect, the Roman Catholic Church of the Old Episcopal Clergy (Rooms-Katholieke Kerk der Oud-Bisschoppelijke Clerezie) (OBC), in 1723 which retained Catholic liturgy and belief but refused to submit to alleged Papal abuses.[clarify]

This led to a theological, philosophical, and political control of the Catholic Church in the Dutch Republic.[clarify] Jesuit priests and missionaries were smuggled into the Dutch Republic to reconvert congregations which had followed the dissident Ultrajectine hierarchy. A vigorous campaign was launched to vindicate Papal authority and to exhort the Catholic laity to turn to Papal appointed ministers for church matters. Additionally, the Holy See negotiated with the new Dutch authorities to gain legitimate status for their appointments. Upon gaining this approval from Dutch authorities to appoint Papally accepted ministers, the Jesuit position soon overcame the Jansenists. By the 19th century, the majority of dissident Catholic laity returned to Papal authority; already in the 18th century the majority of laity had disassociated from the Ultrajectine OBC.

The Jansenist lead during the early period was given by the Vicar Apostolic Neercassel who during his entire period of government, cultivated and sheltered Jansenists in the Vicariate Apostolic of Batavia's clandestine churches.[clarify] Neercassel was succeeded as vicar apostolic by another pro-Jansenist archbishop, Petrus Codde. Codde was suspended from the office of vicar apostolic in 1702 and excommunicated from the Catholic Church for his obduracy in 1704. After Codde, another bishop who played an important part was Bishop Dominique Marie Varlet, who had been appointed Coadjutor Bishop of Babylon by the Pope, but who instead spent his time in the Dutch Republic succouring Jansenists and appealing to Rome to rescind disciplinary censures against him. When Gerard Potcamp was appointed vicar apostolic in 1704, Jansenists constituted themselves into a Cathedral Chapter in Utrecht and proceeded to elect ministers. Since the Archdiocese of Utrecht was suppressed during the Protestant Reformation, the popes viewed this act as ecclesiastically illegitimate and invalid, since the bishops-elect were selected without an apostolic mandate from the Holy See. Varlet consecrated four of these men, and the last of these, Petrus Johannes Meindaerts, after Varlet died, consecrated bishops for the sees of Haarlem and Deventer (which had been defunct since 1580 and would be re-activated by the Papacy only as late as 1853) in order to prevent the loss of the historic episcopate (apostolic succession) among the Dutch Jansenists.

According to Jacques Forget, in Catholic Encyclopedia, Jansenism did not lead to schism in the Kingdom of France as in the Low Countries. In the Dutch Republic, which was mostly Protestant, Catholics, as in England during the same period, lived in a provisional missionary territory of the Catholic Church, the Vicariate Apostolic of Batavia and later Mission sui iuris of Batavia, headed by a vicar apostolic during and after the Protestant Reformation. These representatives of the pope were soon won over to the doctrines and intrigues of which was the originating in and centred around Cornelius Jansen's Augustinus. Johannes van Neercassel, who governed the whole church in the Netherlands from 1663 to 1686, was publicly associated with Jansenists. While Neercassel was vicar apostolic, the Dutch Republic became the refuge of all whose obstinacy forced them to leave the Kingdom of France and the Southern Netherlands. The refugees included Antoine Arnauld, Louis-Paul Du Vaucel, Gabriel Gerberon, Pasquier Quesnel, Pierre Nicole, Nicolas Petitpied (fr), as well as a number of priests, monks, and nuns who preferred exile to the acceptance of apostolic constitutions including Cum occasione promulgated by Pope Innocent X in 1653, Ad sanctam beati Petri sedem promulgated by Pope Alexander VII in 1656, and Regiminis Apostolici promulgated by Alexander VII in 1665. Many belonged to the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri. Petrus Codde went further than his predecessor, Neercassel, and refused to sign the 1665 Formula of Submission for the Jansenists prescribed in Regiminis Apostolici. Codde was summoned to Rome where he defended himself poorly and was first forbidden to exercise his functions and then deposed by a decree in 1704. Codde was replaced by Gerhard Potcamp (nl), but his appointment and those that followed were rejected by a faction of the clergy whom the States General of the Dutch Republic supported. The conflict lasted a long time, during which episcopal functions were not fulfilled. In 1723, the Chapter of Utrecht, which was according to Forget, "a group of seven or eight priests who assumed this name and quality in order to put an end to a precarious and painful situation," selected, on its own authority, as archbishop-elect, one of its members, Cornelius Steenoven (nl), who then held the office of vicar-general. This election was not canonical, according to Forget, and was not approved by the pope. Steenhoven nevertheless was consecrated by Bishop Dominique Marie Varlet, who was at that time suspended, interdicted, and excommunicated. The schismatic Ultrajectine sect was interdicted and excommunicated. Those who had elected Steenhoven transferred their support to Cornelius Johannes Barchman Wuytiers (nl), who was then consecrated by Varlet. Varlet lived long enough to consecrate two of Barchman's successors, Theodorus van der Croon (nl) and Petrus Johannes Meindaerts (nl). Meindaerts was the sole surviving bishop. The Diocese of Haarlem (1742) and Diocese of Deventer (1757) were created as suffragan dioceses. According to Forget, Rome always refused to ratify these irregular acts and invariably replied to the notification of each election with a declaration of nullification and a sentence of excommunication against those elected and their adherents.[1]

Thus, according to the Roman Catholic point of view, Codde's, Varlet's, Steenhoven's, and Meindaerts' actions finally consummated the Ultrajectine schism by not only illicitly ordaining bishops, but especially by usurping diocesan ordinary jurisdiction and thereby interfering into the sole domain of the Roman Pontiff. However, Jansenists averred by referring to alleged long ecclesiastical precedence which (allegedly) allowed for ordination without Papal approval under particular circumstances. The Holy See convened the First Vatican Council in 1870, which codified and remodeled ecclesiastical procedures in favor of the Roman Curia. With this council and reestablishment of the episcopal hierarchy in the Netherlands, Popes proclaimed Jansenists as schismatics and once again excommunicated them and their adherents.

Secondary founders[edit]

After the Vatican Council of 1869–70 which formally defined Papal Infallibility, certain European Catholics, under the inspiration of the Bavarian priest J. Döllinger, seceded from the Roman Catholic Church and eventually styled themselves the Old Catholics; this sect eventually federated with the Ultrajectines Church of Utrecht and were provided their bishops by them.

Thus the secondary founders of the schism of the German Old Catholics were Döllinger (partially), Franz Heinrich Reusch, Joseph Langen, Joseph Hubert Reinkens, Hertzog and others, mainly dissident Catholic theologians who accepted consecration from the bishops of Utrecht to form "Old Catholic Churches" in various European countries.

Tertiary founders[edit]

Arnold Harris Mathew, who had moved between various Christian denominations after having been suspended as a Roman Catholic priest, was instigated by the Modernist Fr. George Tyrell to become an Old Catholic, and obtained consecration as head of the Old Catholic Church of England (Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain) by the Ultrajectines. Mathew went on to consecrate a wide range of men, some of whom emigrated to the United States where they founded a range of Old Catholic independent churches, varying between very conservative institutions to extremely liberal Gnostic churches.

Some North American Old Catholics draw their lineage from Joseph Rene Vilatte, who had been denied consecration by the Ultrajectines, but who was consecrated by Fr. Francis Xavier Alvares, a Goan Catholic priest who apostatized to Jacobitism or Monophysitism as Mar Julious of the Jacobite Church of Ceylon, Goa and India. Vilatte, on returning to North America, reverted to Old Catholicism and went on to found several Old Catholic groups.

Mathew and Vilatte are considered to be jointly the parents of the North American Old Catholic movement.

The Ultrajectines and Old Catholics together form one community in practical fact, although the ecumenical Union of Utrecht or Ultrajectine Communion includes the Lithuanian National Catholic Church, and the Mariavites, and maintains full intercommunion with the Anglican and the Aglipayan or Philippine Independent churches. However, the Polish National Catholic Church in 2004 was ejected from the Old Catholic Communion, due to the See of Utrecht becoming liberalized in a similar vein to movements within the Anglican churches. The PNCC rejects the ordination of women and gays; as well as more extreme ecumenism and modernist liturgics.

Old Catholic claims vs. Roman Catholic claims[edit]

The Ultrajectines or Old Catholics claim that they are an autonomous or autocephalous branch of the Catholic (i.e., "Roman Catholic") Church; that they had never seceded or been expelled or properly excommunicated; that the Particular Church of Utrecht had been historically granted the privilege of electing its own bishop without Papal Mandate and that the consecration of the Jansenist Steenhoven and his consecration by Varlet and subsequently, that of Meindaerts, had been legal and not contrary to the Catholic Church's canon law and therefore did not consummate a schism, etc. The Ultrajectines claim that the Church of Jesus Christ, and thus the Catholic Church, is effectively larger than the Roman Catholic Church and includes all kinds of other ecclesial bodies. On the other hand, the Papacy claims that the schism of Utrecht is proven from the view of canon law. According to canon law, the Utrecht bishops were illicitly ordained and that they effectively usurped ordinary diocesan jurisdiction. Canon law asserts that only the Pope can perform ordinary diocesan jurisdiction. However, in reply, the Jansenists state this authority never applied them due to the nature of the original Papal Mandate and that the new powers of Papal supremacy were granted by a council which they were not allowed to attend.

The Papacy recognizes the circumstances of the Jansenist claims. With Protestant Christianity winning over the populace religiously and politically the dominance in the (northern and central) Netherlands, the See of Utrecht had practically ceased to exist since 1580[citation needed], and the Popes were forced to supply Catholics there through Vicars Apostolic (who however were Archbishop in partibus infidelium). Initially, as the Calvinist Protestant government was at war with the Papacy and Catholic Sovereigns, they could not permit the Vicars Apostolic to operate from territory they controlled. Thus, the Vicar Apostolics were based in French territory and in the territories of the German Catholic princes within the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Later, as the diplomatic situation was relaxed to some extent, the Vicar Apostolics were permitted to reside within the Dutch Republic, and they took their seat at Utrecht. But Vicariate Apostolics are, by definition, not particular sees but are under the personal and direct jurisdiction of the Pope, as opposed to Diocesan government; see Vicariate Apostolic. Both De Neercassel and Codde, his successor, were merely Vicars Apostolic of the Dutch Republics with their seats at Utrecht. That did not make them successors to the Bishops and the Archdiocesan See of Utrecht, which had lapsed into non-existence. However, the Jansenists do not specifically focus on the See as their center of gravity and point out that the Vicariate Apostolic could appoint other bishops.

Thus, although the Papacy claims that as a Vicariate Apostolic, "Utrecht" as the seat of the Vicar, did not have the authority to constitute to itself, without specific authorization by the Pope, a "Cathedral Chapter", and such a unilaterally "re-constituted" "Cathedral Chapter" did not have the right to elect to itself a "bishop" as if it were heir to the rights of the defunct Cathedral Chapter of the defunct See of Utrecht, the Jansenists reply that the Papal arguments of usurpation is moot.

Nonetheless, the succeeding bishops did appoint new jurisdictions and authorities unto themselves which did not have the authorization of the Pope. Thus, even if the "self-re-constituted" "See of Utrecht" is granted to be the heir to the former See of Utrecht, it never did have the authorization from the Pope, even as a privilege, and as heir to the former See, of erecting other suffragan "Sees", as the Ultrajectines have attempted or rather accomplished, by raising to themselves the Sees of Haarlem & Deventer. From the viewpoint of the Catholic Church's Canon Law, then, this action on the part of the Ultrajectines was and remains an act of usurpation and grave schism. Again, the creation of an "anti-Paparchy" branch in England under Mathew, and further branches in North America and elsewhere, with effectively setting up dioceses, were further acts of jurisdictional usurpation. Yet, in ending conclusion, the Jansenists claim that having been abandoned by the Papacy, it was an act of ecclesiastical usurpation on the part of the Papacy for it to return and dislodge the Jansenists based on new authorities granted by the Papacy for itself without consultation from the Jansenists. Thus, they claim that the Papacy has created a fictitious legal dictate to claim that the Jansenists are without ecclesiastical legitimacy.

Ultimately the argument between Jansenists and Papists was centered around conflicting interests. While, the Papacy, claims that nothing in the alleged "rights and privileges" of the See of Utrecht, to which Peter Codde, Cornelius van Steenhoven, Barchman Wuitiers, Croon and Meindaerts, etc. allege that they are the successors, justifies these acts of usurpation, the Jansenists claim that nothing they did was an usurpation until the Papacy effectively declared Jansenists heretics.

Orthodoxy and Sensus Catholicus[edit]

To back the claims of heresy, the Roman Catholic Church maintains that the actions and teachings of the Ultrajectines are contrary to Catholic orthodoxy and the Sensus Catholicus. This is proven, according to the belief of the Papacy, that any movement which denies Papal supremacy is a heretical sect which has arisen out of rejection of the Papacy. According to Vatican I, such a hatred to Papal supremacy makes the movement antithetical to Roman Catholic beliefs and therefore a heresy.

In this coherent if circular logic of the Papacy, this is proven by the case of an ex-Roman Catholic, a suspended chaplain, Arnold Harris Mathew, who was directed towards the Ultrajectines by Fr. George Tyrrell, an excommunicated priest and founder of modernist theology. Roman Catholic modernist theology had been condemned by the Vatican.

Thus we find in Cekada's article that:

Tyrrell took advantage of Mathew's predicament, urging him on in the destruction of sacerdotalism. Mathew adopted an anti-papal position in 1907 as a result of Tyrrell's influence, saying, "…the papacy is the origin… of discord…, the fomenter of schisms, and the seat of ecclesiastical despotism and tyranny."

As noted, Mathew was influenced towards his course by Tyrrell, who had been cast out of the Church for his heresy. The other founder of mainstream United States Old Catholicism, Vilatte, was influenced towards his course by Charles Chiniquy, another apostate Catholic priest who fell out because he was removed from the ministry for seducing girls under his charge. Chiniquy had then gone on to level various charges against the Catholic Church.

These two, Mathew and Vilatte, are the two principal founding fathers of most Old Catholic ecclesial bodies in the USA, and they are also a bridge between the more staid Ultrajectines and these latter offspring, most of whom remain part of the formal Ultrajectine Communion.

Again, if we examine the history of the Döllingerite Old Catholics, as distinct from the Jansenist or Ultrajectine Old Catholics of the Netherlands, we find that these Döllingerites not only received their bishops from the Ultrajectines, but also at the same time, followed the Protestants in many of their reforms — the abolition of clerical celibacy, the introduction of liturgy in the vernacular, the disencouragement of frequent Sacrament of Confession etc.

And, further evidence of the Ultrajectine Communion's alleged opposition to Catholicism is to be found, according to the Roman Catholic Church, in the fact that it sought and received the full support of generally anti-Catholic governments of Prussia-Germany (Otto von Bismarck's anti-Roman-Catholic Kulturkampf), Switzerland, the Netherlands (mostly Protestants), etc. and that the Dollingerites, morally supported by the Ultrajectines, collaborated with these governments in persecuting the Roman Catholics during the Kulturkampf.

Lastly, the Papacy claims that there is the fact that the Ultrajectine Communion has federated with the Anglicans and Aglipayans. The Anglicans and Aglipayans are said by the Vatican to be heretical, because they do not recognize Papal supremacy, and they deny other Catholic doctrines. Such doctrines include the Immaculate Conception, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin as well as the necessity of communion with Rome for eternal salvation. Thus, in Roman Catholic doctrine, by association with such arguable heresies, the Jansenists are considered by the Vatican to be against the Roman Catholic Church.

References[edit]

  • Adams, Raphael J. "Meet the Ultrajectines". orccna.org. Louisville, KY: Old Roman Catholic Church of North America. Archived from the original on 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2014-11-02.