« Le péril d’une Belgique vaticane ». The anti-clerical oeuvre of the ex-priest Jules Bosmans (1853-1928) and the anti-Catholicism in Belgium in the early 20th century

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Abstract

This article looks at the militant publications of the former priest Jules Bosmans (1853-1928) in relation to the phenomenon of anti-Catholicism in Belgium at the beginning of the 20th century. Bosmans is a forgotten figure in the history of anticlericalism. An analysis of Bosmans’ texts is not only important to understand the radical ideas of this extravagant personality. His works also provide insights into the societal impact of the modernist crisis within the Church, the evolution of science and the tensions between Church and State. We first identify several phases in the life of this priest-historian who turned into a militant anticlerical after his laicisation. We then analyse the form, approach and content of Bosmans’ polemic works and situate them in a typology of various sorts of anticlericalism. The article also analyses the extent to which the main ideas that structured Bosmans’ attacks against the Church at the turn of the century were part of a wider anti-Catholic culture typical of Masonic and secularist circles in France and Belgium. Finally, we examine the dissemination of Bosmans' writings, and thus of his ideas, via freethought associations, Masonic lodges and daily newspapers.
Translated title of the contribution« Le péril d’une Belgique vaticane ». The anti-clerical oeuvre of the ex-priest Jules Bosmans (1853-1928) and the anti-Catholicism in Belgium in the early 20th century
Original languageFrench
Pages (from-to)8-32
Number of pages24
JournalRevue Belge d'Histoire Contemporaine
Volume52
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

Keywords

  • Anticlericalism
  • freethought

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