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This Wikipedia article Roman Catholicism in the Netherlands shows that the number of Catholics both as a percentage of the total population and in numbers has declined from 1970 to 2013 (40.5%/5.3m to 23.7%/4.0m).

Within the Catholic Church, what are the main reasons given for the decline of Catholicism in the Netherlands? Are the reasons the same for the decline of Christianity in general within the country?

Please note that if an answer mentions "secularization" as I read when researching, the meaning of this is to be borne out in the answer. To me it come across as "I am no longer religious because I became non-religious."

Seeking an answer from first hand Church documents/sources.


Cf. Do Dutch people believe in god? | YouTube

  • Have you read the Il Foglio article related to this? – Geremia Feb 6 '15 at 23:55
  • @Geremia Yes I have but that's just one article ... – user13992 Feb 6 '15 at 23:57
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Reuters reported in December 2013 that a five-yearly report provided to Pope Francis by Dutch bishops visiting Rome has blamed a "drastic secularization" of society. A critical group of Dutch lay Catholics saw another important factor, the scandal of sexual abuse of minors by priests, which has afflicted many Catholic dioceses around the world, had also driven many people away, as had the closure of churches in Holland.

Wikipedia says that the proportion of Protestants in the Netherlands had fallen from 60 per cent in the early 20th century to only 16.8 per cent in 2007, saying that defections were primarily due to rising unaffiliation. This suggests that the dramatic decline in Protestant numbers is also due to "drastic secularization," although earlier and more dramatic than the fall in Catholic numbers.

  • Reuters are within the Catholic Church? – user13992 Feb 6 '15 at 23:34
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    @FMS No, Reuters are certainly not within the Catholic Church. However, they are a respected source that can be relied on to report accurately what IS within the Catholic Church. From this source, I learn i) that Dutch bishops within the Church have given their reasons for the decline, and ii) that Dutch lay Catholics, an apparently authoritative source from within the Church, have given their reasons. – Dick Harfield Feb 7 '15 at 0:22
  • The actual Bishop's document or summary of it from a catholic source would count. – user13992 Feb 7 '15 at 0:52
  • Interesting question +1. And Reuters is good in an answer like this. Very interesting - I've heard child molestation mentioned by people leaving the Church. It is an urgent problem and the Pope with his spanking nonsense has added fuel to the fire. – gideon marx Feb 7 '15 at 18:14
  • @DickHarfield Cf. This. You may have to use Google translate. – user13992 Feb 8 '15 at 6:39

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