Ultra-conservative Dutch bishop accused of paedophilia


From Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad today:

Former Bishop Gijsen accused of abuse

Published: September 15, 2010 1:00 p.m.

Updated: September 15, 2010 1:25 p.m.

By our editor Joep Dohmen

Rotterdam, Sept. 15. Against former bishop Jo Gijsen, there is a complaints procedure at the Catholic help agency Help and Justice because of sexual abuse. The proceedings have been brought by a former student of the Seminary Rolduc, in Kerkrade. He accuses the former Bishop of Roermond of Peeping Tom behaviour.

The 78-year-old ex-bishop denies the accusation. He is the best known Dutch church prelate so far mentioned in the child abuse affairs in the Roman Catholic Church.

Repeated Peeping Tom behaviour is sexual abuse as defined in the complaint procedure of Help and Justice, according to counsel for the complainant. The complainant does not want compensation, but confession and an apology. Gijsen does not want that. In his defense, he writes that, if it is true, the complainant identifies the wrong person as the voyeur. Gijsen: “It could not have been me.”

Conservative views

During his tenure in Roermond, from 1972-1993, Gijsen was controversial because of his conservative views. Eg, he made provocative statements against homosexuality. He considered that unnatural and reprehensible in all circumstances.

The complaint to Help and Justice is by a former pupil who from 1959-1961 was in Rolduc. The now 64-year-old man says that when he was a 13-year-old boy, another priest of the school abused him sexually three times. He also complains about Gijsen. He says that Gijsen at the time regularly was a Peeping Tom while the boy masturbated in bed.

The written complaint says: “The complainant has thus literally felt like being a sexual object for the accused Gijsen. The complainant felt and feels literally used and abused. The complainant indicates that he is disgusted when he thinks of the expression on the face of the indicted Gijsen while he was spying on the complainant between the curtains of his chambrette. To the complainant, it felt like being “in Gijsen’s power”.

In bed

A second former student of Rolduc told NRC Handelsblad that Gijsen as a supervisor between 1952 and 1955 used to jump into bed with the pupils in their so called chambrettes; small rooms with a curtain as a door.

Gijsen also denies this. “About going to bed with the children I know nothing,” said the former bishop. The complaint procedure of the first former student is still pending.

The departure of Gijsen as bishop in January 1993 came as a surprise. From one day to another he went to a nunnery in Austria, according to the diocese for health reasons. Shortly before he left, Gijsen had problems at Rolduc priest training school, which as the bishop he was responsible for. The vice principal of the training school, as turned out, had sex with students. Gijsen knew that, but did not act decisively about it. Before the Vatican would report on the issue, Gijsen wrote his resignation letter to Pope John Paul II.

Bishop Gijsen was the spearhead of the conservative turn which the Vatican tried to superimpose on the “too liberal” Dutch Catholic church from the 1970s on by its appointments of new bishops.

Gijsen and Pope Benedict: here.

Gijsen affair update, December 2011: here.

Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins say Pope should not be given ‘honour’ of state visit: here.

Pope’s visit: aide steps aside after comparing Britain to ‘third world’: here.

On the eve of the Papal Visit, a look at Newman. He was ‘uncomfortable with clericalism, infallibility and centralization.’ Here.

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