Religion: The Gijsen Affair

To the easygoing Roman Catholic burghers of the Dutch diocese of Roermond, their new bishop came on like a thunderclap. Last January, when Johannes Mathias Gijsen, 39, was named to the see from the rectorate of an old-folks home, hardly anyone knew who he was. They soon found out. In the next six months, Gijsen sacked his deputy bishop and two vicar generals. He issued a ukase telling his pastoral council that it would have to follow whatever policy he laid down. That policy included a strict stand against birth control, opposition to any...

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