Kurschus steps down as chair EKD Council
Annette Kurschus (60) resigned with immediate effect on Monday. The reason is an abuse scandal she should have acted against. The Protestant Church in Germany will need to find a new leader.
She steps down from her position as president of the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany (EKD) and is also leaving the council. Annette Kurschus stated this at a press conference in Bielefeld on Monday. Bishop Kirsten Fehrs (62) will take over the presidency of the Council on an interim basis, the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad writes.
Kurschus has come under fire following allegations of abuse against a former employee of the church in Siegen during the time she was pastor there. A church employee from Siegen allegedly coerced young men into sexual acts many years ago, the Siegener Zeitung reported in recent days. According to the newspaper, Kurschus, who was first pastor and later superintendent in Siegen, had known about the accusations since the late 1990s. However, she would not have done anything with the charges because she was closely related to the accused: she was godmother to one of the alleged perpetrator's children.
"For more than a week, a conflict has been stirred up in public," Kurschus said in Bielefeld on Monday. "The situation has now escalated so much that for me, there is only one way to avert damage to my church: I am resigning from both leadership positions of the church." She is resigning not only as president of the EKD Council but also as president of the Evangelische Kirche Westfalen.
"The suspicion is directed against a man with whose family I was a long-time friend. I never had a working relationship with him, including during my time as a pastor and superintendent in the Siegen church district. I wish twenty-five years ago, I had been so attentive, trained and sensitive to behavioural issues that would alarm me today. I was only aware of the accused's homosexuality and marital infidelity," Kurschus said Monday. "I have never, ever shirked my responsibility, withheld important facts, covered up facts or tried to cover up for an accused."
But now that she is under fire in an area which the EKD and she herself have made "a top priority", namely fighting sexual abuse and violence, she has no choice but to step down, she said. "I cannot do my job effectively if my sincerity is publicly doubted," she said.
According to the Siegener Zeitung, several victims of the abuse in question told Kurschus about it at the time, in the garden of her house. Since there was also a teacher-pupil relationship involved, it should have been immediately clear that, in addition, this was an abuse of power, the daily said.
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