In the midst of accusations that she ignored sexual assault allegations at a church she presided over in the 1990s, the head of the Protestant Church in Germany has resigned.
Senior theologian Annette Kurschus, who oversaw Germany’s largest Protestant federation, announced on Monday that she would resign in order to “prevent damage to my church” despite being unaware of the alleged abuse at the time.
At a press conference where Kurschus announced her resignation, she said, “I acted to the best of my knowledge and conscience.” However, the public’s confidence in me has been harmed.
According to media reports, the 60-year-old theologian was “in detail” informed of sexual abuse allegations against a church colleague in the 1990s but chose not to take any action.
Police are currently looking into the colleague, who was a vicar in the Siegen church district where Kurschus worked.
Kurschus claimed that although she was aware of the man’s “homosexuality and unfaithfulness in marriage” at the time, she had only recently come across allegations of sexual abuse.
She remarked, “I have never attempted to avoid my responsibility, withhold crucial information, conceal facts, or even conceal information for an accused person.”
The synod leader of the Protestant Church, Anna-Nicole Heinrich, stated that Kurschus’ resignation “demonstrates the church’s importance on firm action on the issue of sexual violence.”
German Protestant institutions, which represent 19 million people, have not received much attention, despite the Catholic Church’s long history of being shaken by allegations of sexual assault against clergy.
According to a study conducted in 2018 by the German Bishops’ Conference, 3, 677 minors were sexually assaulted by 1, 670 Catholic clergymen nationwide between 1946 and 2014.
It is believed that there are significantly more victims in reality.
From 1975 to 2018, 314 victims and 202 alleged sexual assaulters were found in an 800-page report on just the Cologne diocese that was published in 2021. The majority of victims were under the age of 14.
Campaigners claim that the Catholic Church’s payouts for abuse victims in Germany were raised from roughly 5, 000 euros ($5, 460) in 2020 to up to 50, 000euros ($54, 600), but the amount is still insufficient.