Jaarlijkse biecht en paascommunie. De evolutie der normen en het toezicht van de clerus in België van 1835 tot 1927.

Annual Confession And Easter Communion The Development Of Norms And Of Clerical Supervision In Belgium From 1835 To 1927: The present paper is a contribution to the study of the traditions, created or maintained in the 19th century by bishops and clergy, in order to ensure fidelity to religious practice. The problem in its entirety must be seen against the background of the Belgian Church's attempts to adjust to the contemporary political structure and the altered Church-state relationship, as these had taken shape in Belgium after 1830, special attention being devoted to the extent to which the maintenance of traditions from the ancien régime was deemed necessary. The study concentrates mainly on the precepts in force in the diocese of Bruges, the present article being part of a broader inquiry into Easter neglect and paschal practice in the same diocese (1). For comparison, the development was traced of the directives issued by the other Belgian dioceses and by the North French bishopric of Cambray. The inquiry was extended past World War I, when the various dioceses - between 1920 and 1927 - adapted their statutes to the altered circumstances. The principal sources were the statutes of the various dioceses, pastoral manuals, and the resolutions of the assemblies of bishops and deans. From this study it is apparent that annual confession and Easter communion continued to occupy an important place within the whole of the religious experience. Though the attitude of the various Belgian dioceses was basically the same, Bruges, throughout the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, was more conservative, emphasizing more strongly the parochial nature of these duties and adhering to a policy of close supervision by the clergy. Here the influence of the tradition of the old diocese of Ypres is noticeable. Mgr. Boussen, himself a native of this bishopric, attempted, by means of his statutes (1836-1840), to bring about the adoption of these practices by the entire diocese of Bruges. This conservative and strict attitude reveals itself most clearly in the continued application of denunciation, which survived in Bruges alone. The practice did undergo gradual modification. In smaller parishes, pastors were obliged to communicate the names of delinquents; the pastors of larger parishes could - exceptionally - content themselves with an estimate of the number of delinquents, spread over the three social classes, pauperes, cives mediae classis, and divites. The new statutes, issued by Mgr. Waffelaert in 1927, generalized the latter practice, so that denunciation henceforth possessed an informative rather than legal character. In the rural parishes such clerical supervision was apparently considered normal. In the cities, however, protests were uttered as early as the middle of the 19th century against these customs, which the clergy, through its influence, tried to maintain.