Dutch bishop found to have been a child abuser

The Catholic Church in the Netherlands has admitted that a Dutch bishop who died last year was a child abuser.

A church complaints commission found that the late Bishop Jo Gijsen committed abuse.

This happened decades ago when he was a chaplain and a teacher in the southern Netherlands.

The abuse reportedly happened in 1958-9 and in 1961 to two boys, according to the Dutch Katholiek Nieuwsblad newspaper.

The complaints commission found the allegations against Bishop Gijsen to be well-founded.

Its findings were announced by the Diocese of Roermond, where Gijsen had been a bishop.

For years, the diocese had denied the abuse claims.

Mea Culpa, which fights for victims of church abuse, welcomed the announcement.

It is seen as a vindication of the fight for justice by both victims, who were boys at the time of the abuse.

But it added that it was shocking that Gijsen was able to become a bishop when it was known he had previously abused children.

Bert Smeets, of Mea Culpa, called the ruling a “slap in the face for the Roman Catholic Church”.

The current Bishop of Roermond, Franz Wietz, said he accepted the commission’s findings.

He said he “regretted the abuse and the victims’ suffering” and had apologised to them.

The victims will now have to go to a different commission to apply for compensation.

Bishop Gijsen was bishop of Roermond from 1972 to 1993.

Considered to be a traditional and controversial bishop, he set up his own seminary in Kerkrade named Rolduc.

This was described as both “closed” and “a feeding ground for homosexual relations” by the Volkskrant newspaper in the Netherlands.

In later life, Bishop Gijsen moved to Austria and Iceland, before returning to the Netherlands in 2007.

In 2011, a far-reaching inquiry into abuse in the Dutch Catholic Church found that up to 20,000 children had suffered some kind of abuse at Catholic institutions from 1945.

Sources

 

News category: World.

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