jump to navigation

Bishop apologizes for Franklin Graham mission to Iceland: The Church of England Newspaper, August 16, 2013 August 22, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Iceland.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Bishop Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir of Iceland

The Bishop of Iceland the Rt. Rev. Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, has apologized to the island’s gay community for the participation of the Church of Iceland in next month’s Festival of Hope meeting in Reykjavík due to the presence of U.S. evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham.

Anna Pála Sverrisdóttir, chair of Samtökin 78, an Icelandic gay activist organization told the news website Ruv.is she was angered by the state Lutheran church’s participation in the Christian rally as Graham opposes gay marriage.

Bishop Sigurðardóttir told Ruv.is she was rethinking her promise to preach at the festival, but added that it might be an opportunity to offer a contrary view to balance Graham’s. The bishop said the Icelandic church had dropped its moral and theological objections to homosexual conduct in 2010 and now was a whole hearted supporter of gay rights.

Gay activists have sought to disrupt the Festival in protest to Graham’s presence. A social media campaign was launched to encourage gay activists to book tickets for the event and then not show up. One activist claimed he had reserved 500 free tickets for the Festival, censoring Graham by preventing those who wanted to hear him preach from the Gospel from attending.

All of the tickets for the festival have been reserved, its website reports. But Festival director Ragnar Gunnarsson told reporters the meeting was not an anti-gay marriage rally but a call to evangelism. He said the Festival organizers were reviewing their options.

Approximately 90 per cent of the country’s population belong to the Þjóðkirkjan, the state Lutheran Church — a partner of the Church of England under the Porvoo Agreement.. However, a 2011 Gallup Poll found Iceland to be one of the world’s most irreligious nations, with 60 per cent of the population saying religion was unimportant in their daily lives.

First woman bishop for Iceland: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2012 p 6. July 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Iceland.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The National Church of Iceland, the Þjóðkirkjan — a partner of the Church of England under the Porvoo Agreement – will consecrate its first woman bishop at its general synod in Reykjavik on 24 June 2012.

Last month the church held a second round of voting via postal ballot between the top two vote-getters, the Rev. Agnes Sigurðardóttir of Bolungarvík and the Rev. Sigurður Árni Þórðarson of Reykjavik.  All licensed clergy and eligible theological students were asked to vote in the election.  Mrs. Sigurðardóttir received 64.3 per cent of the votes cast against Mr. Þórðarson’s 31.9 per cent.

In a statement released after her election the new bishop said her first task “will be to listen, to hear the voices of people who work in different fields within the church, show concern and create solidarity on having the gospel reach the people.”

The outgoing Bishop of Iceland, the Rt. Rev. Karl Sigurbjörnsson, who retires on 30 June 2012, welcomed the election of Mrs. Sigurðardóttir.  “These are good and conclusive results. Now the church will rally behind the new bishop,” he said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Iceland episcopal election underway: The Church of England Newspaper, March 30, 2012 p 6. April 4, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Iceland.
Tags: ,
comments closed

Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson of Iceland

The Church of Iceland reports that a second round of voting will be held to elect the Bishop of Iceland.

Last week the National Church of Iceland, the Þjóðkirkjan — a partner of the Church of England under the Porvoo Agreement – reported that none of the eight candidates for bishop received more than 50 per cent of the votes cast in the postal ballot of the approximately 500 lay and clergy members of synod.

In January the Rt. Rev. Karl Sigurbjörnsson announced he was stepping down after he apologized for failing to properly investigate allegations of sexual abuse made against his predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Ólafur Skúlason.

In 1996 three women complained to then Pastor Sigurbjörnsson that they had been sexually harassed by his superior, Bishop Skúlason. The complaints were not forwarded to the police, and one of the victims has since claimed Pastor Sigurbjörnsson attempted to “hush up” the incidents and urged them to drop their complaints.

Bishop Sigurbjörnsson said at the time the abuse was reported to him, he attempted to mediate between Bishop Skúlason and his accusers. However, Bishop Skúlason denied the charges and the church took no further actions.

In July 2011 the National Church Council offered £9,000 to each of the three women in compensation, while activists within the clergy ranks called for the bishop to go. The bishop and his two suffragans responded on 11 October 2011 with a public statement of apology to one of the victims.

“We are all going through a painful learning process. It is a matter of regret that Gudrún Ebba’s report to the Church Council in 2009 was not replied to in writing immediately and the Bishop has apologized for that publicly, privately and in writing,” the bishops said.

A second round of voting will be held next month via the post in a run-off between the two top vote-getters. In the first round, the Rev. Agnes Sigurðardóttir of Bolungarvík received 28 per cent of the votes and the Rev. Sigurður Árni Þórðarson of Reykjavik received 25 per cent. If elected, Mrs. Sigurðardóttir will become the church’s first woman bishop.

The new bishop will be consecrated on 24 June 2012 at the next meeting of synod. Bishop Sigurbjörnsson will officially retire on 30 June.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Apology and compensation for abuse victims in Iceland: The Church of England Newspaper, Oct 21, 2011 p 7. October 23, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Iceland.
Tags: ,
comments closed

The Rt. Rev. Ólafur Skúlason, former Bishop of Iceland

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishops of the Church of Iceland have released a public statement of regret over the Church’s mishandling the sexual abuse investigation of former Bishop Ólafur Skúlason, but have rejected calls for the Church’s current leader to step down.

On 11 October the bishops apologized to Gudrún Ebba Ólafsdóttir, the daughter of the late Bishop Skúlason, after she went on national television to chronicle the abuse she had suffered at the hands of her father and the Church’s subsequent failure to respond to her allegations.

Allegations of cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse have swirled around the Church of Iceland and have prompted calls for Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson to resign. In 1996 three women complained to then Pastor Sigurbjörnsson that they had been sexually harassed by his superior, Bishop Skúlason. The complaints were not forwarded to the police, and one of the victims has since claimed Pastor Sigurbjörnsson attempted to “hush up” the incidents and urged them to drop their complaints.

In June Bishop Sigurbjörnsson told the Fréttabladid newspaper: “I regret that there are women out there who have grievance and anger towards the church’s servants, myself included, for having failed them in these matters.”

The Bishop said at the time the abuse was reported to him, he attempted to mediate between Bishop Skúlason and his accusers. However, Bishop Skúlason denied the charges and the National Church of Iceland, the Þjóðkirkjan — a partner of the Church of England under the Porvoo Agreement — took no further actions.

In July the National Church Council offered £9,000 to each of the three women to compensate them for the Church’s inaction.

In their statement Iceland’s three bishops said: “We are all going through a painful learning process. It is a matter of regret that Gudrún Ebba’s report to the Church Council in 2009 was not replied to in writing immediately and the Bishop has apologized for that publicly, privately and in writing. However, it should be pointed out that the mistakes made in responding to her report did not impact how her case was treated.”

Bishop Sigurbjörnsson declined to comment further, as did the Suffragan bishop of Hólar the Rt Rev Jón Adalsteinn Baldvinsson. Asked by the Fréttabladid newspaper if Bishop Sigurbjörnsson should resign, the Suffragan Bishop of Skálholt, the Rt Rev Kristján Valur Ingólfsson said, “The Bishop shouldn’t resign for what Ólafur Skúlason has done.”

Iceland bishop denies abuse cover-up: The Church of England Newspaper, June 24, 2011 p 6. June 24, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Iceland.
comments closed

The Rt. Rev. Ólafur Skúlason, former Bishop of Iceland

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Iceland has rebuffed calls that he step down following the release of an internal report sharply critical of his handling of a clergy sexual abuse case.  Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson’s inaction in response to accusations of rape leveled against his predecessor Bishop Ólafur Skúlason, was tantamount to a “conspiracy of silence,” the Church of Iceland’s Investigative Commission found.

Bishop Sigurbjörnsson apologized for his part in the scandal, and for the church’s dilatory response, but argued there was no intent to cover up or excuse misconduct.  He urged the June 14 special meeting of synod to put recriminations aside as the Church of Iceland, a full communion partner with the Church of England under the Porvoo Agreement, did not know how to handle abuse claims in the 1990’s.

“Now we have to look at our work in honesty and mark a new and clear policy,” the bishop told the Icelandic television network RUV on June 14.

In 1996 three women accused Bishop Skúlason of rape.  The Church of Iceland Council and the Deans’ Society rejected the accusations and issued statements of support for their bishop.  In 1997 Bishop Skúlason resigned as bishop and Bishop Sigurbjörnsson was elected head of the state Lutheran church, which numbers 79.18 per cent of the Icelandic nation as registered members.

A year after Bishop Skúlason’s death in 2008, his daughter wrote to Bishop Sigurbjörnsson stating she had been molested by her father when she was a teenager.  She asked to meet with the Church Council—the Icelandic church’s governing body led by the bishop—to discuss her case.  However, the bishop did not respond to her letter for over a year and the commission found her letter had been held back from the bishop’s official register of correspondence for several months.

The investigation committee said the bishop should have reacted sooner to the allegations of abuse and called for the introduction of sexual abuse guidelines covering clergy misconduct.

The June 14 synod meeting passed a resolution supporting their bishop, but the chairman of the meeting told Icelandic television that the fall meeting of synod would likely take up changes to the structures of the church, including removing the bishop as chairman of the church council in favor of an elected lay man or woman.

The Rev. Sigrídur Gudmarsdóttir, the vicar of Grafarholtsprestakall, released a statement after the meeting calling upon the bishop to resign She told the Morgunbladid the bishop should put the interests of the church over his career.

“The Bishop of Iceland should recognize that it will serve the church better if someone else is to take over his duties. The longer he remains in office, the more damage it will cause the church,” Mrs. Gudmarsdóttir said.

Clergy abuse cases rock Church of Iceland: The Church of England Newspaper, Aug 27, 2010 p 5. August 29, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Iceland.
comments closed

The Rt. Rev. Ólafur Skúlason, former Bishop of Iceland

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Iceland, the Rt. Rev. Karl Sigurbjörnsson has denied claims that he ignored accusations of sexual abuse leveled against his predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Ólafur Skúlason.  However, the bishop admitted the National Church of Iceland, the Þjóðkirkjan, had “failed these women” who were allegedly victimized by the bishop.

Speaking on the television news discussion show Kastljósið on Aug 23, the bishop said he believes he still has the support of the church and country, and will not heed calls that he resign.

Allegations of cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse have swirled around the Church of Iceland this year.  After meeting with Bishop Sigurbjörnsson last week, the Minister of Justice said it was up to the church to implement clear policies on reporting and combating sexual abuse.

The clergy of the state church have been divided over how far they will go in reporting sexual abuse, with one priest, the Rev. Geir Waage of Reykholt telling reporters last week that the sanctity of the confession overrides a law requiring every Icelandic citizen to report sex crimes against children.

In 1996 three women complained to then Pastor Sigurbjörnsson that they had been sexually harassed by his superior, Bishop Skúlason.  The complaints were not forwarded to the police, and one of the victims has since claimed Sigurbjörnsson attempted to “hush up” the incidents and urged them to drop their complaints.

“I was just a small pastor,” Bishop Sigurbjörnsson told the Fréttabladid newspaper. “Of course you don’t want to believe something like that. It is the first reaction of all people to be on the defensive. Without a doubt, that’s what the church did in this instance.”

“We have learned from these mistakes,” the bishop conceded.  “I regret that there are women out there who have grievance and anger towards the church’s servants, myself included, for having failed them in these matters. It is intolerable to be the subject of such accusations, both for myself, given my position, and the church’s priests in general. Simply intolerable.”

The bishop said in 1996 he attempted to mediate between Bishop Skúlason and his accusers.  However, Bishop Skúlason denied the charges and the National Church, a partner of the Church of England under the Porvoo Agreement, took no further actions.