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|
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|
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.
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|
|Cardinal Keith O'Brien|
A Belgian bishop, Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, stepped down after admitting molesting his nephew.
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.
BISHOP PAT SAYS:
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|
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.