Achter de schermen van het Unionisme.

Behind The Scenes Of Unionism: There is a tradition in Belgian historiography to consider the end of the Union between catholics and liberals a consequence of the ratification of the 24-Article Treaty by the Belgian Parliament in 1839. According to this vision, the Dutch king William thus caesed to be a common foreign enemy, both for the catholics and liberals. There are, however, several reasons for looking upon the break of Unionism in 1839 as a consequence of the changed relative power between liberals and catholics, rather than as a result of this ratification. To begin with, there's the date. As early as March, 1838 King William had informed London of his willingness to recognize Belgium, through which it became difficult for the Belgians to consider him a possible agressor. Besides, the willingness did not all meet with an immediate approval in Belgium. What was the change in the relative power between liberals and catholics in the period before and after 1830 on the one hand, and in the period between the end of 1837 till 1839 on the other hand ? Immediately before and after 1830 the leading clergy had a great impact on the lower clergy and the faithful, supporters of the democratic mennaisianism, as long as these leaders themselves advocated this tenor. This had also been the case for justifying and motivating the resistance to William I. After the revolution of 1830, however, the new Belgian episcopacy, could no longer adhere to Lamennais' democratic convictions, because they were inconsistent with the powers the bishops claimed from the new state, and incompatible with the establishment of their authority over the lower clergy and the faithful. Indeed, Lamennais was anti-authoritarian and in favour of disestablishment. Therefore, the episcopacy had to expel the democratic convictions. However, this had to be done with great caution in order to : 1) avoid a disruption of Lamennais' followers, 2) be able to preserve the bishops' indépendance from Leopold I and Rome. That is why a.o. the pontifical encyclicals Mirari vos (1832) and Singulari Nos, directed against the mennaisian ideas, were not disseminated by the Belgian bishops. Not until the end of 1837 did the episcopacy feel strong enough to start discrediting the mennaisian ideas, which had been incorporated into liberal-catholicism. This was done a.o. by prohibiting freemasonry (December, 1837), which, according to A. Simon, had been joined by the catholics, because they hoped to renew Catholicism through freemasonry. In Ghent, reading liberal-catholic newspapers was likewise forbidden by the bishops (1838). These measures clearly point at a disavowal of the liberal ideology by the episcopacy, in other words, also a disavowal of the idea of Unionism before the ratification of the 24-Article Treaty.