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Friday, July 16, 2010

First female Lutheran bishop resigns in Germany

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2010 will go down as the year of Bishop resignations in German church history

Bishop Maria Jepsen of Hamburg has resigned from her post. She made this known at a press conference on Friday in Hamburg. Jepsen was moved to do so in consequence of increasing criticism of her handling of an abuse case in the Church of the North Elbe. The 65-year-old Jepsen was the first Lutheran bishop in the world.

Because her "credibility was questioned" she did not see herself as being in the position, "to pass on the glad tidings, as I promised at my ordination and my enrolement as a bishop before God and the community," Jepsen said in a statement. 

The sister of one of the victims had published on Thursday a sworn statement about the meeting with Bishop Jepsen of Hamburg in the late 1990s. She had raised the matter with the bishop after a lecture in Lübeck and provided information about the sexual abuse by Pastor Dieter K. of children and adolescents.

Jepsen had told her then that she would take care of it. The victim is from Ahrensburg, which had been sexually abused bythe pastor on own admssion between the ages of 16 and 20.

Pastor K. allegedly sexually abused in the late 70s to mid 80s, several male and female adolescents. The now retired pastor was after first indications in 1999 was dismissed from the community, but had continued to work in a youth prison in Schleswig as a pastor and in a school in Ahrensburg as a religion teacher.

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