Germany’s first woman bishop resigns in wake of clergy abuse scandal: The Church of England Newspaper, July 23, 2010 p 6. July 24, 2010Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England Newspaper, EKD.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.
The first woman elected to serve as a Lutheran bishop has resigned, following allegations of failing to investigate cases of sexual abuse in her diocese.
The Bishop of Hamburg, Rt. Rev. Maria Jepsen, who in 1992 was elected leader of the North Elbian Lutheran Church and became the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany’s (EKD) first woman bishop, resigned on July 16, telling reporters she could not continue in office with her integrity in doubt.
A diocesan committee has been investigating allegations that a pastor in the town of Ahrensburg had molested approximately 20 children in the 1980s. Bishop Jepsen said she had only become aware of cases in March of this year when she received a letter from one of the victims.
However, the news magazine Der Spiegel and the newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt have contradicted these claims, stating the bishop knew of the priest’s suspected behavior in 1999.
“My credibility has been contested,” Bishop Jepsen told reporters in Hamburg. “For that reason, I do not see myself in a position to continue to spread God’s word as I had promised.”
The head of the EKD Bishop Nikolaus Schneider, said he respected Jepsen’s decision.
“Jepsen has always shown a clear understanding that the victims’ needs come first,” he told a press conference. “It shows that the Protestants are ready to accept responsibility for what has happened without trying to protect themselves.”
Clergy child abuse cases involving Roman Catholic Church have been much in the news in Germany and have led to the resignation of one bishop this year. The head of the EKD, Bishop Margot Kaesmann also resigned earlier this year, after she was arrested for drunk driving.