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Church leader Käßmann resigns for driving drunk

DDP/The Local · 24 Feb 2010, 16:13

Published: 24 Feb 2010 10:04 GMT+01:00
Updated: 24 Feb 2010 16:13 GMT+01:00

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Käßmann said she no longer had the moral authority to comment on issues such as the war in Afghanistan, which she has sharply criticised.

“On Saturday I made a serious mistake that I deeply regret,” she said at press conference in Hannover. “But I cannot overlook that fact that my office has been damaged and my heart tells me very clearly I can’t stay in office with the necessary authority.”

Käßmann said she would step down from all positions effective immediately aside from her job as pastor of a congregation in Hannover.

Her decision to resign came only hours after Protestant church council leaders publicly gave their support to Käßmann.

The 14 members of the Evangelische Kirche Deutschland (EKD) council backed the bishop during a teleconference on Tuesday evening, they said.

Käßmann has their “undivided confidence” to make a “decision over the path that will then be pursued together,” the council said.

She was pulled over on Saturday evening after running a red light in the Hannover city centre. She was found to have a blood alcohol content of 1.54 per mill, public prosecutor Jürgen Lendeckel confirmed on Tuesday.

The bishop, who was driving a church vehicle, apparently smelled of alcohol, and police asked her to undergo a breathalyser test. Well over the legal limit, Käßmann was taken to a nearby police station for a blood test.

“I’m shocked at myself,” Käßmann told Bild. “I am aware of how dangerous and irresponsible drunk driving is. I will, of course, confront the legal consequences.”

A church spokesperson told news magazine Der Spiegel that Käßmann’s blood alcohol content was 1.1 per mill, not 1.3 per mill as initially reported by Bild. The former is at the threshold of the legal limit, while the amount of 1.54 per mill as confirmed by the state prosecutor constitutes being “absolutely unfit to drive” according to German law.

Meanwhile Hannover police told the magazine that they had taken Käßmann’s driver’s license and begun an investigation into the matter.

Margot Käßmann became the first woman to lead the 25 million members of Germany's Protestant churches in October 2009 after the majority of the synod voted in her favour.

Käßmann has proposed a radical course of reform for the EKD, which suffers from shrinking congregations and revenues. In addition to streamlining the clergy, she plans to increase the church’s profile and improve strained relations with Catholics.

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Since taking her leadership post she has called for Germany to withdraw its troops in Afghanistan, calling the military action there "unjustified."

In 2006 the mother of four was diagnosed with breast cancer, but has since recovered.

She also divorced her husband of 26 years in 2007, a decision that sparked initial reactions varying from “open criticism to the point of malice, contempt and hatred,” as she described it in a memoir published last September.

The EKD was founded in 1945 as a multi-denominational federation of Lutheran, Reformed, and United Protestant church bodies. After Germany’s reunification, the EKD combined both East and West German Protestant churches in 1991.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

11:52 February 24, 2010 by The-ex-pat
This should cause a string of politicians who have not had any face time in the papers of TV of recent to get a look in. Still it makes a change from church sponsored paedophilia for once LOL
11:54 February 24, 2010 by Fredfeldman
That halloween costume she's wearing looks as ridiculous as the position she now finds herself in. Its events like this and all the child abuse revelations that have surfaced that bring into sharp relief the difference between todays clergy and the 1st christians. Christianity in modern europe has become just a job.
12:21 February 24, 2010 by pepsionice
We shouldn't be too hard on her or the group of fourteen supporting her (they probably all have had a little run-in with the law on DWI's).

The key thing here is that she's got a chauffeur now...and on Saturday night...can sip all the wine she wants, and have a couple hours before Sunday mass to recover.
12:22 February 24, 2010 by E-Roc
I did not know Scott Baio was a Bishop...
13:38 February 24, 2010 by Edmond Schindler
So it's better to cosign a drunken colleague than look at yourself, typical drinkers behavior. Denial allows all to carry on...until the next incident kills innocent people in another auto, then maybe there was a slight problem with drinking and grandiosity thinking...great. Power corrupts.
14:05 February 24, 2010 by lordkorner
Fredfeldman, first Christians,early Christians as far as I'm aware had the habit of burning women at the stake.Anyway,for a church leader I think she looks pretty hot.Let her stay I say,she's divorced and she likes to party,maybe under that "costume" she wears kinky underwear,now there's a thought as you kneel,bow your head and prey..oops I meant pray...
14:17 February 24, 2010 by Heinrich der Zweite
Since the present Pope invariably drops a clanger by forgiving everybody including Bishop Williamson, a written clemency for Frau Käßmann is probably on it's way per express. If he does support the decision of the EKD to keep her on, the holier than thou brigade will go mad. They should leave her in peace and must accept she is also a human being. I wish her all the best and hope that she had a good time last satuday.
14:58 February 24, 2010 by FreiburgandCambridge
If that's Scott Baio, then where's Fonzie!!??
16:36 February 24, 2010 by KBCraig
lordkorner, when it comes to burning at the stake, you missed "first" and "early" by about a thousand years.
16:50 February 24, 2010 by romber58
I think that she has had enough and found an excuse to give up her job and that the thing she is looking for is a GREAT BIG HUG.
17:09 February 24, 2010 by hanskarl
In light of her lack in judgment and position of responsibility she did the right thing in stepping down. How long has it taken and has the the RC Church really completely admitted to their paedophilia?
19:33 February 24, 2010 by fair1day
Sad. Very sad. One very unhappy lady trying to be PC. She is avoiding her only solution. Hard to believe Martin Luther started in Germany with his 95 thesis on the church door.
20:24 February 24, 2010 by Jues1954
I think she need'n step down from her office,because her driving drunk was a single incident. Hoever her trustworthiness was damage, and no one will believe her in the future. this is her biggest problem, nevertheless I'd given her a second chance. And she shoud have given herself a second chance too.I wish her good luck and all the best perhaps she will find a new challenge in a new job. I admire her for being so straight and consequent, only a few politicians might have had reacted in the same way.
22:22 February 24, 2010 by wxman
I'm probably the last person to agree with the Bishop's positions on either religion or politics, but I think she should not have resigned. She should have apologized to her followers, asked forgiveness and moved on. Resignation is so deferent to the pc crowd.
22:25 February 24, 2010 by cklb
I fully agree with Jues1954 and wxman...
23:22 February 24, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, the good thing about difficult moments and crossroads, is that they offer a wonderful opportunity to change and grow. All it takes is new ideas and commitment.

I would be absolutely delighted to become the leader of the German Protestant Church. With a very profound understanding of God, ethics and morality, I would do very well.
05:03 February 25, 2010 by Eagle1
Resigning gives her more time to drink. This woman is a genius.
07:39 February 25, 2010 by bearded1
There are a few POLITICIANS who could LEARN from this at least she showed BALLS and went and resigned when she made a serious mistake and didnt GLUE herself to her SEAT and make a ridicule of herself.well done for that

RESPECT lady bish(not for the drinking driving thing)
09:28 February 25, 2010 by auniquecorn
Yep, she´s gonna stay as the Pastor because thats where all the little boys are.
14:37 February 25, 2010 by Fredfeldman
Of course she had to quit. The "bishop" pretended to be a role model or why else was she a bishop in a christian church. That some people defend her shows how low expectations of the clergy have fallen in the western world. "Kine wunder" Islam is surplanting Christianity in europe
00:25 February 27, 2010 by Cincinnatus
Very interesting! A politically correct appointment as "Bishop" not only becomes the first female leader of Protestant Churches, she becomes the first Bishop to be divorced, the first Bishop to resign because of drunk driving, and comparing the photo to "older" photos of the "Bishop", it looks like she was also the first Bishop to have had a "face lift." Now that is a lot of "firsts!"
13:58 March 1, 2010 by Johnny Cash
This is great entertainment. Keep the blog going. When did drinking become a bad thing that one should resign your position in a Christian church? Didn`t JC and the boys get a bit hammered once in a while on wine? Maybe she was attending a reinactment of the last supper. Being such a good Christian wouldn't God see that she didn't mow anyone down while she was stewed. Yea of little faith
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