The Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht
The Old Catholic Church in the Netherlands
At the time of the Reformation, the Church in the Netherlands became overwhelmingly Calvinistic, and the small number of people who wished to remain in communion with Rome were forced to abandon the buildings, especially the Great Churches which dominate the skyline in most Dutch towns. The violence of their expulsion varied from place to place, and in some towns they were permitted to take the Altar furnishings, vessels and vestments with them. In many places there was a tacit agreement that, as long as Catholic worship was not seen or heard, the Protestant Town Authorities would not stop it. This led to the building of hidden churches. In some places Catholics would buy a group of houses in the centre of a Town backing on to each other to form a square; they would then pool their back gardens and build a church. In Den Hague where the houses are very tall, this enabled them to build a fine baroque church invisible from the road. At the other end of the scale, the Church at Krommenie faces the road as a typical farmhouse, the back of which is a beautiful church adapted from a barn. All these hidden churches are well worth visiting.
In the latter half of the 17th Century the Dutch Catholics become embroiled with Rome over a theological dispute (the Jansenist Controversy) culminating in the deposition by the Pope of the Archbishop of Utrecht, Petrus Codde. The Dutch did not accept this, and, after the death of Archbishop Codde, elected a new Archbishop without Papal authority. The Pope then declared Utrecht to be out of communion with Rome, thus leaving the Netherlands Catholics independent.
By the later 19th century there were a number of other Churches in Europe that had broken with Rome but still maintained Catholic Order and Ministry. This grouped together to form the Union of Utrecht, with the Archbishop of Utrecht in much the same position as the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Old Catholics and the Anglicans realigned that in origin, doctrine, practice and ecclesiology (church structure) they were virtually identical, and in 1931 the Church of England and the Old Catholic Communion signed the Bonn Agreement. This provides for complete recognition of the validity and interchangeability of each other’s sacraments and ministry: it is the closest relationship we have to any non-Anglican Church. There is free exchange of ordained clergy between our Churches; we have Old Catholic friends who minister in Anglican churches and Anglican friends who minister in old Catholic Churches, and some who do both!
Oud-Katholieke Parochie St. Agnes | Voorstraat 110 - 112 | 1931 AN Egmond aan Zee
Pastoor Joke Kolkman, telefoon 072 - 506 1206 en 06 - 25 54 64 09
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