Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Dutch bishop who died last year was a child molester - abuse commission

The Dutch Catholic Church, in a rare admission of guilt among senior clergy, has confirmed that a bishop who died last year had sexually abused two boys decades earlier.
The diocese of Roermond said a Church commission had found that accusations against former bishop Johannes Gijsen, dating back to his time as chaplain at a minor seminary from 1958 to 1961, were "well founded."
Bishop Johannes Gijsen

The admission came on Friday, the same day that Pope Francis made his first public plea for forgiveness for "all the evil" committed by priests who molested children, and said the Church had to do more to discipline wayward clerics.
Mea Culpa, a Dutch group supporting abuse victims, welcomed the Roermond statement.
But it said the accusations had been made while Gijsen was alive, and noted critically that "complaints against living suspects are often declared unfounded."
Bishop Frans Wiertz, current head of Roermond diocese, said he accepted the commission's findings and "regrets the abuse and suffering inflicted on the victims," He has personally met the two men and apologized to them, he said.
Bishop Frans Wiertz

The Church's statement put Gijsen, who headed the diocese in southeastern Netherlands from 1972 to 1993, among the few senior Catholic clergy worldwide found guilty of abuse.
Katholiek Nieuwsblad, the weekly that broke the story, said the commission found Gijsen had groped the two boys and forced one to perform oral sex.
Gijsen had been confronted with the oral sex accusation in 2011, but denied knowing his accuser.
The commission reopened his case a week after Gijsen died because it received the second complaint of improper genital touching, the weekly said. It concluded that Gijsen's denial was not credible because the victim's family had said he used to visit them.
Bishops blamed
Gijsen was one of several strict conservative bishops whom the Vatican appointed in the Netherlands -- often over the protests of priests and parishioners -- to roll back the strongly reformist turn that the Church took there in the 1960s.
He officially stepped down as bishop of Roermond in 1993 on health grounds, but later served as bishop of the tiny Catholic community in Iceland from 1996 to 2007. An abuse commission there accused him of covering up molestation by another priest.
Few bishops have been accused of active abuse in the scandal, which has been rocking the Catholic Church for over two decades. Most of the prelates who have stepped down did so for covering up the misdeeds of their priests.
Two cardinals -- Hans Hermann Groer of Vienna
Cardinal Hans Groer

and Edinburgh's Keith O'Brien --
Cardinal Keith O'Brien

quit in disgrace amid accusations of sexual misconduct with seminarians.
A Belgian bishop, Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, stepped down after admitting molesting his nephew.
BishopRoger Vangheluwe
The Vatican has been investigating sexual abuse allegations against Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, its former nuncio to the Dominican Republic, since last September. His whereabouts and the status of his case are not known.
Archbishop Josef Wesolowski

Pope Francis, who has been criticized by victims' support groups for not taking a sufficiently strong stand against sexual abuse, last month named a high-level group including an Irish abuse victim to help fight sexual abuse in the Church.
That came after the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child accused the Church in February of systematically turning a blind eye to clerical sexual abuse of minors.
The Vatican called its report "distorted" and "unfair."
Terry McKiernan, founder of the website BishopAccountability.org, which documents abuse cases, welcomed the pope's latest comments but said victims wanted to see Church leaders taken to task for allowing abuse to continue.
"The best thing he could have done today would have been to step up to the microphone and announce that he is beginning to remove bishops who have behaved criminally in keeping priests in ministries where they don't belong," he said.


As there are 412,000 Catholic priests in the world and only 5,100 bishops it stands to reason that there are more sexual abusers among priests than there are among bishops.

However to cover up abuse of children, minors and vulnerable adults is another serious form of child abuse.

While a small number of bishops have actually sexually abused a larger number of bishops have abused "by proxy" by not reporting child abuse among priests.

Last year in the USA the Bishop of Kansas City, Bishop Robert Finn was charged and convicted of "child endangerment" for failing to report sexual abuse by priests.
Bishop Robert Finn

He has remained as the bishop of Kansas City even though many of the clergy and laity have asked Rome for his removal.

This is a sign that Rome - AND POPE FRANCIS - do not really take child abuse seriously enough.

More governments need to charge bishops, archbishops, cardinals and popes with child endangerment.

Then - AND ONLY THEN - will be see proper reaction to child abuse in the RC Church.
+Pat Buckley

1 comment:

  1. The abusing Bishop is dead but the responsability or restitution remains with the Dutch Church in this instance. There is also a danger of presupposing that because one is a priest one is more likely to be an abuser. The sad twist of nature that makes one an abuser can affect both male and female and can occur in any area of society. The responsability of all is to prevent , recognise and discourage abuse in any shape or form. There is a duty of care to the abused and the abuser. In the case of an abuser it is that they face the full process of law and any sanctions that are imposed as a result of wrongfull behaviour. Sean