Margot Käßmann Steps Down
Statement by the Chairperson of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD)
24 February, 2010
Last Saturday evening I committed a terrible mistake that I deeply regret; but however much I regret it and accept the-in this situation-entirely justified reproaches that are being leveled against me, not least by myself, I cannot and will not dismiss the fact that my office and my authority as presiding bishop and chairperson of the Council have been damaged. I would no longer have the freedom to identify and measure ethical challenges in the future as I had in the past. The harsh criticism to a sermon such as "Nothing is good in Afghanistan" can only be faced when one's personal power of persuasion is unquestionably acknowledged.
Yesterday, one of my advisers shared with me this quotation from Jesus Son of Sirach: "Heed the counsel of your own heart" (Sir 37:13); my heart tells me clearly: I do not have the necessary authority to remain in office. So many things that I read [about myself] are not reconcilable with that office. But apart from my office, I am also concerned about my esteem and respect for myself and for my integrity, which I value greatly.
I hereby announce, effective immediately, that I am resigning from all my ecclesiastical positions. For over 10 years I have been a bishop in body and soul, and have given this task my utmost. I shall remain a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover. In the 25 years since my ordination, I have gathered a wealth of experiences that I will gladly put to use elsewhere.
I am sorry to disappoint the many people who asked me to remain in office, who placed their trust in me by electing me to these functions. I thank everyone for carrying and supporting me so wonderfully, for all the messages and flowers the past several days that soothed my soul. I am extremely grateful to the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany for having reiterated its confidence in me yesterday evening.
I thank the staff of the church of Hanover, both volunteers and those in salaried positions, who have supported me, especially my closest team of collaborators who remained faithful to me through many a storm. I thank all my friends and able advisers. And I thank my four daughters for unambiguously and resolutely supporting my decision and who are here today.
Lastly, I know from past crises: You cannot fall deeper than into the hand of God, and I am grateful for the faith that I have.
Hanover, 24 February 2010
Dr Margot Käßmann