Joannes Gijsen

Joannes Baptist Matthijs Gijsen (October 7, 1932 – June 24, 2013) was a Dutch bishop of the Roman Catholic Church.[1] After being Bishop (emeritus) of Roermond, Limburg, the Netherlands, he became Bishop (emeritus) of the Diocese of Reykjavík (Iceland). His episcopal motto is Parate viam Domini (Prepare the way of the Lord).

His Excellency

Joannes Baptist Matthijs Gijsen
Bishop of Reykjavík
Johannes Gijsen.jpg
Bishop Gijsen in 2010
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
DioceseDiocese of Roermond
Diocese of Reykjavík
In office
  • Roermond: January 20, 1972 – January 23, 1993
  • Reykjavík: May 24, 1996 – October 30, 2007
Personal details
Born(1932-10-07)October 7, 1932
Oeffelt, Netherlands
DiedJune 24, 2013(2013-06-24) (aged 80)
Sittard, Netherlands

Early life and priesthoodEdit

Gijsen was born in Oeffelt. He would be ordained a priest on April 6 1957. [2] He obtained a doctorate (Ph.D) in Church History, focusing his thesis on Joannes Augustinus Paredis.[3] During the National Pastoral Council in Noordwijkerhout from 1966 until 1970, Gijsen was one of the opponents to the direction the council was taking. The council was choosing for a more liberal interpretation on the documents promulgated by the Second Vatican Council, in particular the interpretation of Lumen Gentium.[4] This was in contradiction to the view held by the pope. Many[5] view his stance on the council of Noordwijkerhout as one of the reasons, if not the reason Gijsen would later be appointed bishop of Roermond.

Episcopate in Roermond, the NetherlandsEdit

Pope Paul VI appointed Gijsen as bishop of Roermond on February 13 1972, with co-consecrator being Bernardus Johannes Alfrink. [6] The reaction to his appointment was one of outrage. The liberal Dutch Catholics of the episcopacy were heartbroken[7], a pain which was broadcast in the media.[8] Among his soon-to-be colleagues, he was an unknown factor. Cardinal Alfrink even went to Rome to contest the appointment, but instead was told he had to co-consecrate Gijsen.[9] This increased the outrage the laity was expressing over his appointment, as this was seen as a way to force the cardinals hand. This would increase the divide between the Dutch laity and the Catholic hierarchy. During his episcopacy, Gijsen would try as much as he could to overturn the changes made at Noordwijkerhout. [10] In 1993 he resigned for health reasons. During this sickness he was the titular bishop of Maastricht. [11]

Episcopate in Reykjavik, IcelandEdit

After a few years at the titular see as bishop of Maastricht, (Traiectum ad Mosam), Gijsen's health improved. In Roermond, he had already been succeeded by bishop Frans Wiertz but in Reykjavik, the diocese with few priests for an enormous area, happened to have been vacant for two years, due to the rather sudden death of the American bishop, Alfred Jolson.

Bishop Gijsen moved from the heavily Catholic Dutch diocese to Reykjavik, where the Catholic population is very small and rising solely due to immigration. Gijsen remained bishop in Iceland for another ten years. On October 30, 2007, the Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the pastoral government of the Diocese of Reykjavík, presented by Joannes Gijsen, in accordance with canon 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law. Since then the bishop lived in Sittard (Limburg) as pastor of the Carmelite Sisters. In Reykjavik, he was succeeded by the Swiss-born bishop Pierre Bürcher.[12]


Gijsen died in Sittard on 24 June 2013, aged 80.[13] He died only 2 months after another Dutch bishop, Muskens, died.

In 2014 two complaints against Gijsen for sexual abuse dating from the period 1958–1961 were deemed valid by the complaints commission of the Catholic Church.[14][15][16] The determination that complaints were valid was the first time against a Dutch bishop. Gijsen's successor in the diocese of Roermond, Frans Wiertz, apologized for Gijsen's behaviour.[15]


  1. ^ (in Dutch)
  2. ^
  3. ^ De Kromstaf als wapen, Bisschopsbenoemingen in Nederland. Schoten: Westland. 1988. ISBN 9051580096.
  4. ^ Alfrink. Amsterdam: Anthos. 1997. ISBN 9041401172.
  5. ^ De Kromstaf als wapen, Bisschopsbenoemingen in Nederland. Schoten: Westland. 1988. ISBN 9051580096.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Faith in the familiar, religion, spirituality and place in the south of the Netherlands. Boston: Brill. 2013. ISBN 9004214933.
  8. ^ (in Dutch)
  9. ^ Alfrink. Amsterdam: Anthos. 1997. ISBN 9041401172.
  10. ^ De Kromstaf als wapen, Bisschopsbenoemingen in Nederland. Schoten: Westland. 1988. ISBN 9051580096.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Holy See Press Office, Daily Bulletin of 30.10.2007, Rinunce e nomine, Rinuncia del Vescovo di Reykjavik (Islanda) e nomina del successore Archived 2009-07-07 at the Wayback Machine (in Italian)
  13. ^ "Oud-bisschop Gijsen (80) overleden" (in Dutch). 24 June 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  14. ^ Bert van Doorn (11 April 2014). "Oud-bisschop Jo Gijsen betastte geslachtsdelen jongens" (in Dutch). Omroep Brabant. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  15. ^ a b Anna Vossers (11 April 2014). "Bisdom Roermond erkent misbruik door bisschop Jo Gijsen" (in Dutch). Elsevier. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  16. ^ "Klachtencommissie verklaart misbruikklachten Gijsen 'gegrond'" (in Dutch). Katholiek Nieuwsblad. Archived from the original on 14 April 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2015.

External linksEdit