Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad:
June 24, 2013, 13:45
Former bishop Gijsen (80) dies
by Pim van den Dool
Jo Gijsen, the bishop of Roermond from 1972 to 1993, has died. The diocese announced that this afternoon. Gijsen was 80 years old. He had been seriously ill for some time.
During his tenure in Roermond Gijsen was controversial because of his conservative views. He made controversial statements about homosexuality. He said that was against nature and should be rejected under all circumstances.
Gijsen was the highest Dutch church leader who was charged with child abuse. According to a complaint lodged against him Gijsen, when he was a parochial vicar in Valkenburg, did extensive sexual acts with the 10-year-old son of a parishioner in 1958. The now 64-year-old man filed his complaint about this in 2009, before the abuse scandal in the Netherlands was revealed.
The complaint against Gijsen eventually was declared not proven for lack of supporting evidence. The committee for complaints of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church did say that this “certainly did not mean that the facts stated by the complainant would not be true.”
Gijsen often discredited
It was not the first time that Gijsen was associated with sexual abuse. In 2011 the complaints committee called it “unseemly” that Gijsen in 1959, as a dormitory supervisor of the minor seminary Rolduc, spied on a masturbating boy in his chambrette. This complaint was declared inadmissible because Peeping Tom behaviour does not meet the definition of sexual abuse. Gijsen said he had never been in the dormitory, despite witness statements stating the contrary.
From 1996 to 2007, Gijsen was bishop of the Diocese of Reykjavik in Iceland. Last year an Icelandic commission which examined the child abuse in the church there, ruled that Gijsen had acted negligently as bishop by destroying a letter from a victim of sexual abuse.
Gijsen departure came as a surprise in 1993
The departure of Gijsen as a bishop in January 1993 came as a surprise. From one day to another he went to a convent in Austria. According to the diocese for health reasons. Shortly before he left, Gijsen had problems at the seminary in Rolduc, for which he was responsible as a bishop. The deputy head of the seminary turned out to have sex with students. Gijsen knew about it, but did not act decisively. Before the Vatican would report on the issue Gijsen wrote his letter of resignation to Pope John Paul II.
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