Dutch bishop’s Icelandic sexual abuse scandal

Roman Catholic cathedral in Iceland

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

6 November 2012 8:25

Gijsen, the former bishop of Roermond, stands accused in Iceland of covering up sexual abuse. A report of an Icelandic commission investigating sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic church says this.

Joannes Gijsen had become bishop in Roermond, the Netherlands, as one of several ultra-conservative Vatican appointees, against the wishes of most Roman Catholics in the diocese. His position in the Netherlands became untenable because of various issues, including sexual abuse at a seminary founded by Gijsen because he considered existing seminaries to be too liberal. The Vatican then moved Gijsen to Iceland, where there are few Roman Catholics.

Gijsen was the bishop of the Roman Catholic church in Iceland from 1996 to 2007. Then, a man wrote a letter about an Icelandic priest having abused him sexually. Gijsen destroyed that letter.

Overstepping the mark

The Hákonardóttir commission says that Gijsen was wrong. He should have started an independent investigation into the accusation.

In 2010 Gijsen was accused in the Netherlands of being a peeping Tom as a young boy masturbated in the late 1950s. The Deetman commission did not call that abuse, but did say that Gijsen had overstepped the mark.

The Deetman commission was founded by the Dutch Roman Catholic church to investigate many complaints about sexual abuse, mostly of children, by priests.

From Iceland Review Online:

05.11.2012 | 10:10

Catholic Church Confirms Child Abuse in Iceland

The investigative commission of the Catholic Church in Iceland presented its report on Friday, confirming that Rev. Ágúst Georg, principal of the church-run elementary school Landakotsskóli, and one of its teachers, Margrét Müller, abused their pupils.

The commission questioned 30 of the school’s former pupils and people who had joined the Catholic Church’s summer camps as children. Eight of them stated they had been sexually abused and 27 that they had been subject to or witnessed mental abuse, ruv.is reports.

Hjördís Hákonardóttir, who chairs the commission, said the report is a serious blow to the reputation of the Catholic Church in Iceland.

It reveals that Joannes Gijsen, who served as Bishop of the Catholic Church in Iceland 1996-2007, destroyed a letter from a man who described how he was abused by Rev. Georg, ruv.is reports.

In doing so, the commission considers Gijsen to have failed his obligations; he should have launched an independent investigation by specialists into the matter.

In 2010, Gijsen was accused of sexual violations while teaching at a school of the Catholic Church in Holland in the 1950s and 1960s.

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