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BELGIUM


398


BELGIUM


sepliinist governments, and determined to overcome the opposition of the Bishop of Ghent, he had the bishop prosecuted for liaving pubhshed the "Doc- trinal Decision"; for ha\'ing corresponded with Rome without authorization; and for having published the papal Bulls without approbation. The Brussels Court of Assizes condemned the bishop to be de- ported for contumacy (1S17), and the Government, carrjing the sentence even farther, had the bishop's name written on the pillorj', between two profes- sional thie\'es sentenced to be pilloried and branded. The clergy of the Diocese of Ghent who remained faithful to the bishop were also persecuted by the State. The conflict would have continued indefi- nitely had not the prelate died in exile, in 1821, after having twice confessed the Faith in the face of persecution. After his death, the Government conceded that the oath should be binding only from the civil point of view, which set at rest the Catho- lic conscience and ended the difficulties which had beset the first six years of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

If there had been any real desire on the part of King William to respect the conscience of Catholics, who constituted the greater part of the nation, he would now have inaugurated a policy, which would have set aside religious differences, and started the kingdom along lines leading to the frank and cordial fusionof the two peoples. This was not done. On the contrary, in his obstinate determination to treat the sovereign pontiff as an outsider, and to bring the Catholic Church under the omnipotence of the State, William in his blind furj' continued his policy of op- pression. Before the above-mentioned conflict, the king had created a State commission for Catholic affairs and had declared in the decree that "no church ordinance coming from a foreign authority — [i. e. the pope] could be published without the approval of the Government". This was equivalent to re-establish- ing in the full dawn of the nineteenth century the placet of the despotic governments of the former re- gime. Going farther, he instructed this commission "to be on their guard in maintaining the liberties of the Belgian Church", an extravagant formula bor- rowed from defunct Gallicanism, imphnng that the commission should take care to withdraw the Belgian Church from the legitimate authority of the pope. The men he had chosen to help him pushed their distrust and hatred of the Catholic hierarchy farther than he did. Baron Goubau, the head of the board of Catholic worship, and liis superior. Van Maanen the minister of justice, by a system of petty persecu- tions soon made their names the most hated in Bel- gium, and largely increased the unpopularity of the Government.

In 1S21 the Government began to be chiefly oc- cupied with the suppression of liberty in the matter of education. Since the foundation, in 1817, of the three State universities, Liege, Ghent, and Louvain, higher education had been entirely under the control of the State, wliich now assumed control of middle inferior education (20 May, 1821) by a ministerial or- dinance which allowed no free school to exist without the express consent of the Government. Lastly, a decree of 14 June, 1825, suppressed free middle su- perior instruction by determining that no college could exist without being expressly authorized, and that no one could teach the children of more than one family without an official diploma. A second decree of the same date declared anyone who had made his studies abroad ineligible for any public office in the kingdom. The State having monopolized all lay ed- ucation, there still remained the training of the clergy, which by the general canons of the Church, and those of the Council of Trent, in particular, be- longed exclusively to the bishops. By a third decree, 14 June, 1825, said to be a revival of that of Joseph II,


establishing the General Seminarj', a State institution was erected under the name of Philosophical College (College philosophique) , in which every aspirant for the priesthood was obliged to make a course of at least two years before ne could be admitted to a grand sfminaire.

On this occasion, the Archbishop of Mechlin, whose servility toward the king had till then known no limit, did not hesitate to make some respectful re- monstrances to the Government, declaring that he could not in conscience accept these decrees. Gou- bau, in answering, repeated in substance Napoleon's gibe to the Prince de Broglie, "Your conscience will be regarded as a mere pretext and for good reasons". The other bishops, however, the capitular vncars of vacant sees, and the rest of the clergy, unanimously took sides with the Archbi.shop of Mechlin and joined in his protest. The Catholic Belgian deputies to the States-General protested; the Holy See protested in its turn. Nothing availed; the Government closed the free colleges one after another, thereby ruining a flourishing educational system in which Belgian families had absolute confidence; the Philosophical College was opened with great pomp, with a corps of instructors little thought of, either from a scientific or a moral point of view; students were drawn thither by bursaries or scholarships, and by exemp- tion from military service. The Government be- coming more radical than ever, then undertook to create a schism in the Belgian Church by elaborating a plan, whereby the authority of the Holy See would be abolished and the bishops placed immediately un- der the Government.

But all these measures only increased the discon- tent of the Belgians and their passive resistance. To get the mastery, the Government conceived the idea of having recourse a second time to the sov- ereign pontiff, and broaching again the project of a Concordat, which had failed in 1823, on account of the king's inadmissible claims. The king counted, on the one hand, on wresting as many concessions as possible from the Holy See, and on the other, on gaining popularity among the Belgians through the arrangement he would make with the pope. These calculations failed, and once more the superiority of papal diplomacy was made manifest in the difficult negotiations which finally resulted in the Concordat of 1827. The Philosophical College ceased to be ob- ligatory- for clerics and became a matter of choice; in place of having the right of designating the bishops, the king was obliged to content himself with that of vetoing the choice made by the Chapters. The Con- cordat, which filled the Catholics with joy, excited the ire of the Calvinists and the Liberals, and the Government tried hard to quiet the latter by showing the worst possible will in the application of the treaty which it had just concluded with the Vatican. The Philosophical College was not declared optional until 20 June, 1829; vacant episcopal sees were provided with titulars elected according to the conditions laid down in the Concordat, but a royal decree rendered the recruiting of the clergy almost impossible save from the ranks of the old pupils of the Philosophical College. The Catholic opposition, headed by Bishop Van Bommel, the new Bishop of Liege, was so vig- orous, and political complications so grave, that the king at last consented to permit the bishops to re- organize their seminaries as they wished (20 October, 1829). Then, as the crisis became more serious, he went farther, and on 9 June, 1830, entirely suppressed the Philosophical College, which had been deserted from the time attendance had become optional. On 27 May of the same year, the king even revoked liis decrees regarding freedom in education; he thanked Goubau and committed to Catholic zeal the direction of matters concerning Catholic worship, and would have left no ground for grievance on the part of