Some things don’t die – Bishop Gijsen was guilty

Bishop GijsenIt’s hardly inconceivable anymore, but somehow it is still hard to believe accusations of sexual abuse against a generally well-respected bishop. And when the bishop denies and seems to be supported in that denial by the competent authorities, that is a relief. Just so in this case, but there’s preciously little room for such denial anymore.

A week after the death of Bishop Joannes Gijsen, formerly of Roermond, the institute charged with deciding if an accusation is founded or unfounded reopened the case against him. The bishops was accused of multiple cases of sexual abuse in the time late 1950s and early 1960s, when the future bishop was a young priest. The claims of two victims have now been deemed plausible, it was revealed today. In the first case there are accusations of forced oral sex and attempted or actual rape; while the second revolves around a single instance of improper touching. The complaints commission have decided that the cases of touching are plausible, whereas the (attempted) rape and oral sex can not be proven (which is not to say they didn’t take place, the commission stressed).

Instrumental in this decision was the appearance of a second complaint and the defence of the bishop, which was deemed highly implausible. In his defence, Bishop Gijsen claimed not to know the victim, while he was known to have regularly visited the victim and his family and to have received letters from the victim’s father.

As Bishop Gijsen is no longer alive, there is little that can be done, even if his crimes were not subject to the statute of limitations. Bishop Frans Wiertz, who succeeded Bishop Gijsen in 1993, apologised to the victims and expressed his regret and sorrow. When the complaints were first expressed, Bishop Wiertz immediately notified the relevant authorities and advised the victims to do the same. But even when having done what is possible this late, a feeling of powerlessness remains.

Sexual abuse, however long ago, does not simply go away. It lasts for the victims, and no less for all who have known them or the perpetrator. And when the latter is a priest or bishop, a moral example (even in hindsight), who turns out to have lied about what he did, that is all the worse.


2 thoughts on “Some things don’t die – Bishop Gijsen was guilty”

  1. Paedophiles are sexual predators. I would be credulous in believing that Gijsen sexually abused only two children. In all likelihood there were more victims. For various reasons the identities of any further victims of Gijsen may never be known. They too will pass to their graves in excruciating and tormenting silence.

    This brings me to Gijsen’s post Roermond life in Reykjavik. There he did a sterling job in concealing and conspiring with the sex abuse crimes of the late vicar general Augustus George. This cleric conducted a decades long reign of sexual terror in Iceland. Former Bishops in Reykjavik were at the forefront in concealment of his sex abuse crimes against children. Did Gijsen abuse children there?

    The truth about Gijsens sex crimes was well known to the Roermond diocese prior to his death. They cynically waited ’til he died before admissions of truth were to be made public. Yet another Roman cleric goes to their grave without facing their victims or judicial action.

    Rome understands one force that is of power. The power of the state must trup Rome at every turn. Only when Roman prelates are jailed as co conspiritors in these crimes will there be an about change in attitude regarding the rape and sexual abuse of children by Roman priests and prelates.

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