First woman Lutheran bishop resigns over sex abuse

Last Updated: Saturday, July 17, 2010 - 00:09

Berlin: The first woman ever elected as a Lutheran bishop has resigned from her post in northern Germany amid allegations she failed to thoroughly investigate reports of a sexually abusive pastor.

Hamburg bishop Maria Jepsen said in a statement Friday that she was stepping down from her post after coming under fire for allegedly deciding not to take action on claims that a priest within her diocese was involved in sexual abuse.

"My credibility has been put in question," Jepsen said. "Consequently, I feel that I am no longer able to spread the good word, as I vowed to do at my ordination."

Jepsen, 65, was elected bishop of the Lutheran church in northern Germany in 1992, becoming the first woman worldwide to hold the post.

In recent months, she was charged with covering up for a priest in the northern town of Ahrensburg for years, despite allegations of his sexual abuse.

"I expect that the abuse cases in Ahrensburg and elsewhere will be swiftly investigated and that the truth will come to light," Jepsen said. She has insisted that she could not recall being told of the abuse.

During her tenure, Jepsen was frequently seen at anti-discrimination rallies and demonstrations and strongly supported the rights of the unemployed and homeless people.

Germany has been rocked by a widespread abuse scandal involving allegations of sexual and physical abuse of children by priests in both the Protestant and Roman Catholic churches. Hundreds of people claiming abuse have come forward since January.

Bureau Report



First Published: Saturday, July 17, 2010 - 00:09

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