By Herman Bakvis
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Usually I am asked to say a few words and I will say something on spiritual matters. Sometimes I am asked to give business advice at these meetings and I will do so because I may be the only one with sufficient education to give such advice. (Interview 12) The authority of the priest was made apparent not only in church and at organizational meetings but also on a personal basis in at least two contexts: during regular visits to the homes of parishioners and in the confessional. These meetings were important not only because they meant close personal contact but also because occasionally they involved the application, or threat of application, of sanctions.
The confessional was never quite as useful as a means of control or source of information, although earlier it may have been more impor- 38 Catholic Power in the Netherlands tant. "Before the war [in Rotterdam] people came to confession quite often. I asked a lot of questions. . I had considerable influence in the confessional" (Interview 21). Yet in the main the evidence for the postwar period is that the confessional was not taken very seriously by either priests or rank-and-file Catholics.
Catholics and Calvinists joined in an electoral alliance and began pressing their case in parliament. Changes in the administration of the education act in 1888 and 1889 gave them partial victory. 5'' The Pacification set a precedent for the meeting of further Catholic demands which were increasingly framed not in terms of the freedom and equality of Catholics as individuals but of the freedom of the 26 I Catholic Power in the Netherlands church to set up its own organizations. Catholics took great pride in the institutional edifice that was developing.