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Le Concile Vatican II et le monde des religieux

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Christian Sorrel

Les voies du changement. Tensions et réformes

Negotiating Religious Reform

Perfectae Caritatis put into practice in the Netherlands, 1965-1982

Marit Monteiro

Texte intégral

  • 1 For the male religious institutes, e.g. Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers. Dominicanen in Nederland (1 (...)
  • 2 Joos van Vugt, « “Should it happen that God should permit...” The Political and Legal Position of O (...)
  • 3 Tensions between religious precepts and apostolate are part and parcel of recent Dutch historiograp (...)

1The decree Perfectae Caritatis, issued by the Second Vatican Council on October 28 1965, officially marked the beginning of experimental changes in communal life and activities of men and women religious worldwide. In the Netherlands, religious institutes already debated necessary reforms of their identity, way of life and their mission in the world prior to the Second Vatican Council1. Male orders engaged in parish-based pastoral care were confronted with dissatisfied parishioners who questioned the religious praxis and hierarchical organisation of their Church. Female and male orders active in education and healthcare experienced difficulties in meeting government policies regarding professional standards2. In these familiar spheres of action, they were no longer in the position to set the rules but were instead forced to abide by rules set to them. Such pressures added to the growing tensions within the religious institutes, due to a decline of vocations and an increasing perception of imbalance between the demands of the religious life and changing ideas of personal, spiritual and professional development3.

2The Second Vatican Council therefore was anxiously anticipated in the religious institutes in the Netherlands, as were the decrees that not merely encouraged but in fact mandated the reform and adaptation of the religious life. Expectations were high, too high perhaps, as this case study of the Dutch Dominicans will clarify. I will explore the changes in their conception of the Dominican identity, and the consequences of this conception for their views on communal life as a corner stone of the religious life. The framework in which the Dutch Dominicans could envisage and conceptualize the aim and content of reform was provided by the General Chapter of the Order held in 1968 in River Forest, near Chicago. It was preceded by a general meeting of provincials in 1967 in Rome. This meeting was meant to improve the Order’s laborious tradition of internal deliberation and decision making. It also offered the provincial superiors an opportunity for an exchange of their views on reform in the context of the actual situation in their respective provinces. Within the Order, the Dutch Dominicans were of doubtful reputation as unequivocal supporters of radical reforms. This reputation gained even more currency from 1965 onward as the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands was depicted in the international media as an ecclesiastical test tube sizzling with experimental drive. In reality, the Dutch provincial superior elucidated in 1967, the Dutch Dominicans were deeply affected by what was generally perceived as a crisis of faith within Dutch society.

3The General Chapter of 1968 mostly concentrated on the revision of the constitutions that was presented by Perfectae Caritatis as the point of departure of the reform process. As an opus perfectabile these appealed to the innovative strength of the Dominicans. In this vein, the Dutch Dominicans adopted a so-called « Statute for Experiments » during the Provincial Chapter of 1969. This Statute allowed for the exploration of new forms of communal life by means of experimental communities and thus prevented an internal schism between the reform-minded Dominicans and their more moderate brothers. Although the Statute was within the limits of the new, provisional constitutions devised by the General Chapter of 1968, it provided the underpinning for a conception of Dominican identity and way of life that was not generally shared in the Order. This conception offered the raison d’être for communities that were « mixed » by gender and state in life. These experimental communities proved to be controversial and provided a stress test of reform in two respects. First, they offered different, even dissenting, interpretations of the fundamentals of the Dominican Order: the religious vows and communal life. Second, they put the agreements of administrative decentralization and provincial autonomy reached by the Chapter of 1968 directly to the test.

Run up to Reform

  • 4 Provincial Archive of the Order of the Dominicans [PAOD] 4532, intervention of Fr. Kevin O’Rourke, (...)

4The Dominican Order prepared for the General Chapter of 1968 during the Congressus Provincialium, held in Rome in September 1967. The preparatory committee for this meeting called for a more efficient « method of conducting meetings within the Order », that would help to accomplish the goals the Order set for itself. Otherwise they risked « frustration and fatigue » caused by procedures for communication that would induce « a passive attitude ». The process of renewal, in other words, required new, more effective forms of internal communication4.

  • 5 PAOD 4532, circular letter of F. van Waesberge, Father provincial of the Dutch Province, January 10 (...)
  • 6 PAOD 4532, Dutch translation of the questionnaire accompanied by « Practical Suggestions ».

5The meeting of the provincial superiors and their assistants in 1967 could benefit from an opinion poll that was sent to the respective provinces in January of that year5. This consultation reflects the essence of Perfectae Caritatis that reform required the sounding of all members of a religious institute. Superiors were therefore urged to seek their advice and familiarize themselves with their views on matters concerning the Order. The questionnaire comprised more than sixty questions, formulated by the Master general, often with specific references to the relevant decrees of the Second Vatican Council. The opening questions concern the « fundamentals »: the characteristics of the « spirit and the life of Saint Dominic » and his intentions for the Order. The public image of the Order was addressed, as well as its interaction with modern man in modern society, and the question whether its aims and means could or should be adapted to the current conditions of modern society. The opinion poll moreover includes sections on the training of young Dominicans, convent life, administration, preaching, liturgy, studies, the life of the Dominican sisters and the members of the Third Order, and finances6.

6Although this opinion poll seems to be an appropriate and even innovative instrument to democratize the process of decision-making within the Order, its structure and semantics must have had an exclusive rather than inclusive effect. The original poll was issued in Latin, which indicates that a substantial number of Dominicans, namely the lay brothers, were excluded. The wording of the questions and the assumed knowledge of the Vatican decrees also predisposed the learned members of the Order. Finally, the invitation to personally articulate opinions on their Order, their Dominican identity and their apostolate, and to send their response directly to the Master general must have been a novelty to the majority of the Dominicans who were trained in strict obedience to their superiors.

  • 7 For the impact of questionnaires on Church policy in the 1960’s, see Benjamin Ziemann, « Opinion Po (...)

7The questionnaire itself articulated – and therefore shaped – the fundamental orientation of the reform process in the Dominican Order7. It defined « the fundamentals » of the Order in terms of the characteristics of the « spirit and the life of Saint Dominic » and his original intentions. Moreover, it specified the mostly dualistic terms in which reform was to be considered: the public image of the Order was at stake, its interaction with « modern man » in « modern society », leading up to the question whether its aims and means could or should be adapted to contemporary society.

Religious crisis in the Netherlands

  • 8 PAOD 4532, [Frans van Waesberge], La situation religieuse dans la province dominicaine de Hollande, (...)
  • 9 Van Waesberge made earlier attempts to set the record straight as he was aware that the Master of t (...)
  • 10 PAOD, 4532, [Frans van Waesberge], La situation religieuse dans la province dominicaine de Hollande(...)

8The Congressus Provincialium in Rome provided the provincial superiors with an opportunity for the exchange of the state of affairs in their respective provinces. This highlighted the particular problems of each province prior to the General Chapter, and thus their respective starting points in the deliberations concerning religious reform. On this occasion, Frans van Waesberge, prior provincial of the Dutch Dominicans, sketched a rather gloomy account of the situation in the Netherlands8. He felt it incumbent on him to rectify prevailing images of the Dutch Roman Catholics, including the Dominicans, as advocates of radical religious and ecclesiastical reform9. Van Waesberge explained that through their responsibilities in parish-based pastoral care the male religious orders such as the Dominicans were directly confronted with major shifts in Dutch society with regard to religion and Church. These shifts influenced their attitude towards reform and adaptation of the religious life and apostolate. They had to face up to the fact that the majority of Dutch Catholics felt increasingly awkward about ecclesiastical structures and inner-Church hierarchical differences on account of clerical status, gender and education. Although it was promising that many Catholics engaged in debates about the Second Vatican Council, these did not amount to coherent nor cohesive conceptions of Catholic identity. New conceptions of identity in modern society, revolving around personal autonomy and self-fulfilment, instead urged many Catholics to break with ideas, structures and institutes that fostered inequality, discrimination and lack of democracy. The established Churches served as prime examples, whereas the Catholic Church was dismissed as an institute of do’s and don’ts10.

  • 11 PAOD 4590, Acts Provincial Chapter 1960, Admonitiones 46 and 48. Marit Monteiro, « The religious ra (...)

9The Dutch Dominican Province itself, Van Waesberge clarified, was on the brink of a schism over the very subject of reform. Two opposing factions voiced their views. In general, the Dutch Dominicans under forty welcomed the religious crisis as an opportunity for changes they deemed long overdue. They endorsed the maxim of truthfulness, which the Dutch Dominicans had adopted as the core of their Dominican identity during the Provincial Chapter of 196011. To them, the motto veritas that defined the collective identity within the Order, referred to doctrinal truths they had come to question critically. They preferred to adhere to what they considered truthful or authentic, and to refuse to abide by guidelines and regulations they considered obsolete. This reform-minded group, Van Waesberge explained in Rome in 1967, was opposed by a faction that was convinced that their Order merely experienced a difficult episode that would eventually pass. Their relentless commitment to the religious life would ensure that the religious tradition remained a solid haven in turbulent times.

The General Chapter of 1968

  • 12 PAOD, 4532, « Verslag van het Generaal kapittel, gehouden te River Forest bij Chicago, van 29 augus (...)
  • 13 PAOD, 4532, Epistula a Capitulo ad Totum Ordinem. Praesentatio Novarum Constitutionem, 1.
  • 14 PAOD, 4532, Littera ad Fratres, General Chapter 1968, p. 1 and p. 3, with reference to section 4 of (...)
  • 15 PAOD, 4532, Littera ad Fratres, General Chapter 1968, p. 4.

10Van Waesberge’s presentation before the Congressus Provincialium can be read as the point of departure of the Dutch province at the General Chapter of the Order of the Dominicans that took place from the end of August until the end of October 1968, in River Forest, near Chicago, Illinois12. With reference to the Second Vatican Council it defined as its main task to find new forms of apostolate and prayer that would meet the needs and expectations of modern man13. With respect to the revision of the constitutions of the Order mandated by the decree Perfectae Caritatis, the participants debated whether they ought to first discuss the actual problems that Church and Order currently faced in the respective provinces. Van Waesberge supported this sequence that was overruled by the majority of the Chapter. The Chapter thus concentrated mostly on the revision of the constitutions and produced a provisional version, presented as an opus perfectabile. These were to be adjusted and improved on the basis of experience during the process of renewal and adaptation that – in keeping with the guidelines of Perfectae Caritatis – was considered the responsibility of all members of the Order14. The Chapter agreed upon the Dominican fundamentals as the frame of reference for the revision of the constitutions: communal life, supported by its shared liturgy, and the apostolate devoted to preaching based upon study15.

  • 16 PAOD, 4532, « Verslag », p. 2-3
  • 17 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1965, p. 12-13.

11I will zoom in on the issues Van Waesberge identified in his report of the General Chapter as relevant to the Dutch Dominicans. He related that diverging conceptions of the clerical identity of the Dominicans caused dissent. The Spanish delegates proclaimed that the clerical character of the Dominican Order reflected its prophetic dimensions. Van Waesberge initially successfully managed to have this proposition dismissed, yet a new text was adopted by the Chapter in which the prophetic mandate of the Order was unequivocally bound to the priesthood – to the dismay of the Dutch and the French delegates16. In the Dutch province, the issue of the clerical character of Dominican identity had proved to be a stumbling block during the Dutch Provincial Chapter of 1965. Mainly the Dominicans under forty failed to understand that their older fellow brothers put great value on the priesthood in their life. Older Dominicans, in turn, had a hard time acknowledging the social and cultural devaluation of the priest-hood in society in general, as well as among their younger brothers17.

  • 18 PAOD 4532, « Verslag », p. 4.
  • 19 PAOD 4532, « Verslag », p. 7; ibid., Epistula a Capitulo ad Totum Ordinem. Praesentatio Novarum Con (...)

12Concerning the religious vows, Van Waesberge feared that the Dutch Dominicans would be disappointed to learn that the General Chapter kept to the classic interpretation. His account reveals that apparently their hopes had been set on the easing of the vow of chastity18. With more enthusiasm, the prior provincial reported that with reference to the vow of obedience the General Chapter made allowances for the personal responsibility of both the superiors and their subjects. Van Waesberge himself seemed pleased with the Chapter’s aim for administrative democratization through decentralization. This allowed for a larger – though unspecified – degree of administrative autonomy of the respective provinces19.

On the verge of a schism

  • 20 Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…, p. 722-723.
  • 21 J. A. van Kemenade, J. M. van Westerlaak, Ambtscelibaat in een veranderende Kerk: resultaten van ee (...)

13The provisional constitutions of 1968 offered the Dutch Dominicans some latitude for the interpretation and implementation of reforms within their province. They clearly needed this room to manoeuvre during the Provincial Chapter of 1969, when the Dutch province threatened to break over the question of the membership of the Order. This question was intrinsically linked to the definition of Dominican identity and its fundamentals. Some Dutch Dominicans advocated the membership of former Dominicans: those who had recently left the Order yet testified to their unbroken religious inspiration that, in their view, risked to be smothered in the current institutional structure and rigid, archaic requirements of Church and Order20. This plea resonated the public opinion in the Netherlands where the legal obligation of celibacy for the priesthood was openly questioned. Opinion polls indicated that not only the majority of the Dutch, but also the majority of the Catholic clergy endorsed the idea that married men could function perfectly as priests, thereby putting into perspective the obligation of celibacy as a corner stone of clerical identity21.

  • 22 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1969, no’s 54-56 ( « Experimenten »).
  • 23 Fernandez (1895-1981) could boast administrative experience within the Order of the Dominicans as a (...)
  • 24 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1969, no. 56.

14During the Provincial Chapter, the Dutch Dominican community proved to be divided into three groups over this issue. One faction advocated a radical break with existing structures, focused on modernizing the priesthood and dismissed mandatory celibacy. This faction was opposed by a group that favoured more moderate reforms at an equally more moderate pace. Yet the largest group was undecided with respect to the focus and scope of the reforms in general and preferred to refrain from articulating their views on sensitive issues such as clerical celibacy. This issue however turned out to be so contentious that a schism seemed to be inevitable. The Chapter managed to avert this by settling upon a Statute for Experiments. This Statute met the demands of those Dutch Dominicans who wanted to put general exhortations for reform and adaptation in practice as they saw fit, but also guarded the interest of the more moderate minded by clearly defining the limits of experiments. These initiatives were not to exceed the « normal strength » of the Dutch Dominicans, as they should never compromise the Dutch province within the Dominican Order22. Master general Aniceto Fernández approved of the acts of the Chapter, including the Statute23. Yet, he stipulated dispensation of the Master general was required for those initiatives that did not tally general law nor the Constitutions24. The Statute thus provided the Dutch Province with a legal framework for experimental communities.

  • 25 Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…, p. 734-737.
  • 26 PAOD 4575, Acts General Chapter 1971, no. 122.
  • 27 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1973, no’s. 24-28.
  • 28 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1977.

15Under this Statute five experimental Dominican communities were initiated, of which the last one was closed in 200625. These had a « mixed » membership with regard to gender and state in life: Dominicans and Dominican Sisters, as well men and women who felt inspired by the Order and its founder. The ideal of an extended Familia Dominicana fitted a visionary model of the Dominican Order without hierarchical differences based on ordination or vocation. Such intentions were recognized and endorsed only very briefly in the Order of the Dominicans. The General Chapter of Tallaght (1971) explicitly included those who lived and worked in the spirit of St. Dominic – whether they be priests or lay brothers, sisters or nuns, lay men or women, in the Order of the Preachers26. In this vein, the Provincial Chapter of the Dutch Dominicans kept seeking ways to formally and legally include Dominican sisters and laity in the Order27. Although such far-reaching interpretations of the make-up of the Order and its membership were reversed at the General Chapter of Naples (1974), the Dutch Provincial Chapter of 1977 continued its more inclusive course28. This Chapter acknowledged that the Statute of Experiments still provided a viable framework for mixed Dominican communities.

Stress test of reform

  • 29 Katholieke Documentatie centrum, Nijmegen, the Netherlands Dominican Community Arhem [KDC, Archive (...)
  • 30 Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…, p. 736.

16The Dominican Community Arnhem (DCA) developed into the major test case of internal reform that involved definitions of Dominican identity, community life, and administrative autonomy. The initiators started planning the community in 1977, the year in which the Dutch Provincial Chapter confirmed the relevance of the Statute for experiments for mixed communities of men and women, with and without a formal affiliation to the Dominican Order. At its official start, in 1979, the DCA consisted of three Dominicans, a Dominican sister of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Neerbosch and a married couple. It distinguished itself from other experimental religious communities under the wings of religious institutes in the Netherlands in its openness about personal, intimate relationships29. The members of the DCA acknowledged the importance of these relationships in their joint life, without diminishing their commitment to Dominican values or the religious vows. As their initiative was being scrutinized closely, they rejected the emphasis that was put on intimate relationships as disproportionate. Yet, they were convinced that personal friendships within their religious community would strengthen and revitalize religious life simply because its members were happier30.

  • 31 They were advised to this end by a committee that also considered the acts of the Provincial Chapte (...)
  • 32 Served as Master general from 1974 until 1983. During this term, he also served as vicepresident of (...)
  • 33 KDC, Archive DCA, Official documents, Provincial Council of the Dominican Sisters of Neerbosch to t (...)
  • 34 Ibid., Master general de Couesnongle to the prior provincial Martin Vijverberg, 27-06-1979.

17Because of this particular ambition, intense debates in the Dutch Province and its Provincial Council, as well as in the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Neerbosch, preceded the decision in January 1979 to acknowledge this experimental community31. In April 1979, the Master general, Vincent de Couesnongle, overturned this decision32. This tallied with the rejection of the experiment of the Congregation of the Religious and Secular Institutes to which concerned Dominican Sisters and Dominicans had turned33. In the ensuing correspondence with the prior provincial, it became clear that the Master general, probably closely watched by the aforementioned Roman Congregation, could not endorse the support of the Provincial Council for the DCA as this experiment contravened an « élément fondamental » of the Dominican profession. An appeal to the Familia Dominicana would offer no solution, he explained, as « chacun comme sa profession » had a calling and a commitment « selon les modalités de la branche dont ils font partie ». Clearly, the inclusive conception of the Familia of the first half of the 1970’s proved to be short-lived. The same was true for the Dutch Statute of Experiments of 1969. That reflected other times, other types of experiments as well. More importantly, he reminded the Dutch provincial superior of the directive stipulated by his predecessor Fernández in response to the Statute: dispensation of the Master general was needed for initiatives that did not tally general law nor the constitutions. This was the case with the DCA, and dispensation was out of the question. He would gladly grant the provincial more time and latitude, yet only to carry out this decision34.

  • 35 PAOD 4639, Account of the visitation by the Master general (1982) and the response of the Dutch Pro (...)

18His demand for an immediate termination of the experiment in April 1979, however, was not respected. This forced him to once again clarify this demand in the context of his visitation of the Dutch Province in 1982 to the Dominican members of the DCA. As the Order knew no mixed communities they lived extra conventum. As they did so on a structural basis without a valid reason, the Master general demanded that the provincial superior would end their participation in this unapproved experiment within a few months35.

  • 36 KDC, Archive DCA, Official documents, Correspondence Master general, Provincial Council and the DCA

19Obviously, the model of an egalitarian community, underpinned by a non-clerical conception of Dominican identity, overstepped the boundaries of what the Master general could approve. The Dutch Provincial Council, however, considered the decision over the Dominican Community Arnhem and its membership its responsibility. Although the Dutch Dominicans were undecided among themselves about the principle of dialogue as the principal instrument of governance, the Provincial Council considered it an instrument befitting for the democratic institute the Dominican Order claimed to be. This needed to be upheld particularly in the case of the DCA, as divergent opinions about the community life and the religious vows complicated a thorough investigation of the meaning and impact of this experiment for the Order and its task. According to this Council, the Master of the Order had violated the principle of internal democracy by demanding, without further consultation, the Dominican members of the DCA to leave this community. The Master general for his part demanded that the Provincial Council would respect his decision that the DCA could not be recognized as a Dominican community36.

20Yet, even under the conditions set by the Statute for Experiments support the DCA could not be continued as it overstretched both the strength of the Dutch Dominican Province and compromised its position within the Order. The positive assessment of an investigative committee installed by the Provincial Council at the request of the DCA did buy this community some time, yet could not persuade de Couesnongle’s successor Damian Byrne in 1983 to change his predecessor’s resolution over the DCA. The remaining members dissolved the community in 1987.

21Although the decree Perfectae Caritatis (1965) officially marked the beginning of experimental changes in communal life and activities of men and women religious, religious institutes had been debating change and renewal since the 1950’s. In the Netherlands, initiatives of reform prior to the Second Vatican Council reflect the particular problems the religious institutes needed to address. These also shaped their expectations with respect to the announced reforms. These expectations were high, also among the Dutch Dominicans who saw themselves confronted with a general crisis of faith in the Netherlands, a decline in vocations and a general insecurity about their identity and apostolate.

22During the General Chapter of 1968, their actual situation, perceived as a crisis, was subordinated to the more detached exercise of listing Dominican values and fundamentals in function of the revision of the Order’s constitutions. The provisional constitutions passed by this Chapter explicitly cleared the way for reforms through experience. The Dutch Dominicans used this liberty to adopt the Statute for Experiments at the Provincial Chapter of 1969 in order to keep their Province from breaking over dissension concerning reform and renewal. This Statute provided the framework for an exploration of new forms of communal life within the Dutch Dominican Province based on an egalitarian, non-clerical conception of Dominican identity.

23Concrete initiatives such as the Dominican Community Arnhem served as a stress test for the interpretation and implementation of religious reform during the 1970’s. In the case of the DCA, the negotiations between the provincial superior and the Master general revolved around the interpretation of the religious vows and communal life. By including of personal, intimate relationships in their communal life, the Dominican members of the DCA challenged the traditional interpretation of the vow of chastity that had remained unchanged in the Dominican constitutions. They moreover claimed to be a Dominican community of mixed composition by gender and (ordained and religious) status. The Master general rejected the initiative on both accounts. Moreover, he insisted that it was for him to decide over this community, thereby clearly delineating the boundaries of provincial administrative autonomy in matters that directly touched upon the fundamental characteristics of the Dominican Order.

  • 37 Compare Marit Monteiro, « The religious radicals… ».
  • 38 Annelies van Heijst and al., Ex Caritate…, p. 1030-1038; Marit Monteiro and al., « Changing Narrati (...)
  • 39 Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…; compare the concept of « Diversity without Democracy », coined by (...)

24Initiatives such as the DCA have often been marginalized in the historiography of the religious institutes because of their small scale and short-lived existence37. This marginalization also seems to be the result of the process of ressourcement that was encouraged by the Second Vatican Council as part and parcel of internal reform. Going back to the sources, both the Gospel as well as the intentions of the founders of religious institutes, invited the religious institutes to assess their history through the lens of what they consider their core activities. This perspective often obscures the actual history of religious life as a sometimes difficult human rather than a saintly endeavour38. Experimental communities like the Dominican Community Arnhem testify to the controversial assessment of religious reform that shaped the hour of aggiornamento in the religious institutes. In the case of the Dutch Dominicans this hour resulted in plural conceptions of Dominican identity and apostolate that allowed for the unbroken loyalty to personal religious ideals that could, when necessary, conceal an inner detachment to the official course set by their Order39.

Notes

1 For the male religious institutes, e.g. Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers. Dominicanen in Nederland (1795-2000), Hilversum, Verloren, 2008; J. A. Dekok, Acht eeuwen Minderbroeders in Nederland : een oriëntatie, Hilversum, Verloren, 2007. For the religious congregations of brothers, Joos van Vugt, Broeders in de katholieke beweging. De werkzaamheden van vijf Nederlandse onderwijscongregaties van broeders en fraters 1840-1970, Nijmegen, KDCKSC, 1994. For the female religious institutes, Annelies vanheijst and al., Ex caritate. Kloosterleven, apostolaat en nieuwe spirit van actieve vrouwelijke religieuzen in Nederland in de 19e en 20e eeuv…, Hilversum, Verloren, 2010.

2 Joos van Vugt, « “Should it happen that God should permit...” The Political and Legal Position of Orders and Congregations in the Nederlands », in Jan demaeyer and al. (eds), Religious institutes in Western Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Historiography, Research and Legal Position, Leuven, Leuven University Press, 2004, p. 301-308.

3 Tensions between religious precepts and apostolate are part and parcel of recent Dutch historiography on active female religious: Paul Wynants, « Les religieuses de vie active en Belgique et aux Pays-Bas », Revue d’histoire ecclésiastique, XCV/3, 2000, p. 238-256; Annelies van Heijst, Models of Charitable Care. Catholic Nuns and Children in their Care in Amsterdam 1852-2002, Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2008.

4 Provincial Archive of the Order of the Dominicans [PAOD] 4532, intervention of Fr. Kevin O’Rourke, Province of St. Albert the Great, 26 September 1967. The superior of the Dutch Province, Frans van Waesberge, had been elected for this Committee by the Master general Fernandez (ibid., letter of appointment, d.d. 31 October 1967).

5 PAOD 4532, circular letter of F. van Waesberge, Father provincial of the Dutch Province, January 10 1967, with information on the distribution within the Dutch Dominican Province.

6 PAOD 4532, Dutch translation of the questionnaire accompanied by « Practical Suggestions ».

7 For the impact of questionnaires on Church policy in the 1960’s, see Benjamin Ziemann, « Opinion Polls and the dynamics of the public sphere: the Catholic Church in the Federal Republic after 1968 », German History, 24, 2006, p. 562-586 and Chris Dols, Fact Factory. Sociological Expertise and Episcopal Decision Making in the Netherlands 1946-1972, Nijmegen, dissertation Radbout University, 2014.

8 PAOD 4532, [Frans van Waesberge], La situation religieuse dans la province dominicaine de Hollande, (s.d.). Van Waesberge (1911-1987) held several administrative positions in the Dutch Province before he was elected prior provincial in 1960. Having the confidence of the Dutch Dominicans, he served three consecutive terms as provincial superior.

9 Van Waesberge made earlier attempts to set the record straight as he was aware that the Master of the Order relied on conservative Dutch sources in Rome that portrayed the Dutch Dominican province as overambitious concerning renewal and reform in Church and Order. Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…, p. 615-617.

10 PAOD, 4532, [Frans van Waesberge], La situation religieuse dans la province dominicaine de Hollande, (s.d.), 7. Compare Erik Borgman and Marit Monteiro, « Katholicisme », in Meeten terborg and al. (eds), Handboek Religie in Nederland. Perspectief – Overzicht – Debat, Zoetemreer, Meinema, 2007, p. 86-121 and Peter van Rooden, « Oral history en het vreemde sterven van het Nederlandse christendom », in Low Countries Historical Review, 119/4, 2004, p. 524-551.

11 PAOD 4590, Acts Provincial Chapter 1960, Admonitiones 46 and 48. Marit Monteiro, « The religious radicals of ’68: reframing identity and spirituality », Religion and Theology, 24/1-2, 2017, p. 109-129.

12 PAOD, 4532, « Verslag van het Generaal kapittel, gehouden te River Forest bij Chicago, van 29 augustus tot en met 24 october 1968 » (report of the General Chapter, held in River Forest near Chicago, from August 29 until October 24 1968) 1.

13 PAOD, 4532, Epistula a Capitulo ad Totum Ordinem. Praesentatio Novarum Constitutionem, 1.

14 PAOD, 4532, Littera ad Fratres, General Chapter 1968, p. 1 and p. 3, with reference to section 4 of Perfectae Caritatis; ibid., Epistula a Capitulo ad Totum Ordinem. Praesentatio Novarum Constitutionem.

15 PAOD, 4532, Littera ad Fratres, General Chapter 1968, p. 4.

16 PAOD, 4532, « Verslag », p. 2-3

17 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1965, p. 12-13.

18 PAOD 4532, « Verslag », p. 4.

19 PAOD 4532, « Verslag », p. 7; ibid., Epistula a Capitulo ad Totum Ordinem. Praesentatio Novarum Constitutionem, 3: De autodeterminatione provinciarium et de personali Fratrum responsabilitate.

20 Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…, p. 722-723.

21 J. A. van Kemenade, J. M. van Westerlaak, Ambtscelibaat in een veranderende Kerk: resultaten van een onderzoek naar alle pristers, diakens en subdiakens in Nederlan, Rotterdam, Pastoraal Instituut van de Nederlandse kerprovincie, 1969; for a discussion of the various viewpoints on (mandatory) celibacy for priests since 1963, see A. Hoenkamp-Bisschops, Ce-libaat: varianten van beleving. Een verkennend onderzoek rond ambtscelibaat en geestelijke gezondheit, Baarn, AMBO, 1991, p. 18-30. For the impact of this poll commissioned by the Dutch episcopate: Marjet Derks, Chris Dols, « Sprekende cijfers. Katholieke sosiaalingenieurs en de enscenering van de celibaatcrisis 1963-1972 », in Tijdschrift voor Geschiedenis, 123, 2010, p. 414-429.

22 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1969, no’s 54-56 ( « Experimenten »).

23 Fernandez (1895-1981) could boast administrative experience within the Order of the Dominicans as assistant to the Master general (1946-1950) and prior provincial of the Spanish Dominicans (1950-1962) before he was elected Master general in 1962. He remained in office until 1974.

24 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1969, no. 56.

25 Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…, p. 734-737.

26 PAOD 4575, Acts General Chapter 1971, no. 122.

27 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1973, no’s. 24-28.

28 PAOD 4591, Acts Provincial Chapter 1977.

29 Katholieke Documentatie centrum, Nijmegen, the Netherlands Dominican Community Arhem [KDC, Archive DCA], Official documents, prior provincial M. Vijverberg to Master general Vincent de Couesnongle, 27-06-1979.

30 Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…, p. 736.

31 They were advised to this end by a committee that also considered the acts of the Provincial Chapters of 1969, 1973 and 1977. KDC, Archive DCA, Official documents, Final report advisory committee (1979), II. Ibid., Copy of the Bulletin of the Dutch Dominicans, February 1979.

32 Served as Master general from 1974 until 1983. During this term, he also served as vicepresident of the Union des supérieurs généraux, under the presidency of Pedro Arrupe (1907- 1991). In 1981, after a stroke, Arrupe resigned from his office as Master general of the Jesuits. Dissatisfied over the Jesuit’s efforts for social justice and the liberation theology in South America, pope John Paul II personally assigned a vicar-general, passing over the candidate designated by Arrupe. In the Dutch province, this papal intervention is associated with de Couesnongles rejection of the DCA and his insistence on administrative compliance of the Dutch prior provincial. Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…, p. 625.

33 KDC, Archive DCA, Official documents, Provincial Council of the Dominican Sisters of Neerbosch to the prefect this Roman Congregation, Cardinal Pironio, 21-06-1979. This rejection dated from May 111979.

34 Ibid., Master general de Couesnongle to the prior provincial Martin Vijverberg, 27-06-1979.

35 PAOD 4639, Account of the visitation by the Master general (1982) and the response of the Dutch Provincial Council (1982); see also PAOD 4726, Reaction of the Master general to the Acts of the Provincial Chapter (15-09-1981) concerning mixed communities.

36 KDC, Archive DCA, Official documents, Correspondence Master general, Provincial Council and the DCA.

37 Compare Marit Monteiro, « The religious radicals… ».

38 Annelies van Heijst and al., Ex Caritate…, p. 1030-1038; Marit Monteiro and al., « Changing Narratives ».

39 Marit Monteiro, Gods Predikers…; compare the concept of « Diversity without Democracy », coined by Peter Mcdonough, Eugene C. Bianchi, Passionate uncertainty. Inside the American Jesuits, Berkeley-Los Angeles-London, University of California Press, 2002.

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Radboud University Nijmegen

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