Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Comme Il Importe Au Bien De L'église et De L'état: L'opposition De L'épiscopat «Belgique» Aux Réjormes Ecclésiastiques De Joseph II (1780-1790)

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Comme Il Importe Au Bien De L'église et De L'état: L'opposition De L'épiscopat «Belgique» Aux Réjormes Ecclésiastiques De Joseph II (1780-1790)

Article excerpt

Comme il importe au bien de l'Église et de l'État: L'opposition de l'épiscopat «belgique» aux réformes ecclésiastiques de Joseph II (1780-1790). By Bernard Vandermeersch. [Bibliothèque de la Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique, Fascicule 94.] (Louvain-la-Neuve: Revue d'histoire ecclésiastique; Leuven: Universiteitsbibliotheek. 2010. Pp. 498. euro55,00 paperback.)

Based on several eighteenth-century manuscript sources in Belgian archives and libraries (especially the Acta Episcoporum and the Acta Archiepiscopatus), printed pamphlets, and edited sources - as well as the principal contributions within the historiography on the Enlightenment, Josephinism, Reformkatholizismus, Spätjansenismus, Catholic Enlightenment, and ultramontanism - Bernard Vandermeersch aims to study the reactions of the Belgian episcopate toward the religious reforms imposed by Joseph II. The termini a quo and ante quern of his study correspond to Joseph IFs reign (1780-90). The material limits are those of the so-called Belgian Church of the second half of the eighteenth century, composed by the Dioceses of Ypres, Ghent, Roermond, Antwerp, and Bruges, under the authority of the Archdiocese of Malines, and those composed by the Dioceses of Tournai and Namur, theoretically dependent of the Archdiocese of Cambrai.

According to the author, the religious policy pursued by Joseph II in the Austrian Low Countries was led along three lines: nationalization of the Church, secularization of political life, and state supervision of the clergy. Several decrees were issued to suppress jurisdictional bonds between the Belgian Church and the Holy See. Surprisingly, the Belgian episcopate did not at first really oppose this anti-ultramontane feature of imperial Reformism. Cardinal Johann Heinrich von Franckenberg, archbishop of Malines, was almost the only party not to approve the anti-Roman legislation, and there was hardly any opposition to secularization by the high clergy. …

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