Allegations of abuse against ex-employees: EKD boss Kurschus resigns |

As of: November 20, 2023 12:15 p.m

The pressure on the council chairwoman of the Evangelical Church of Germany (EKD), Annette Kurschus, was great. The trigger was allegations of abuse against an ex-church employee in Siegen. Now Kurschus has resigned.

Annette Kurschus announced on Monday in Bielefeld that, in addition to her position as council chairwoman of the Evangelical Church in Germany, she was also giving up her role as president of the Evangelical Church in Westphalia. But she is at peace with herself about the matter.

According to a report in the “Siegener Zeitung”, Kurschus is said to have been informed early on about allegations of abuse against a former colleague in the Siegen church district who is now suspected of criminal offenses. However, she is said to have done nothing. The theologian said she was friends with the man’s family. She had heard something about the homosexual tendencies of the man who was married to a woman and about his marital infidelity, but nothing about possible acts of abuse. She was never interested in covering up an accused.

Hamburg Bishop Kirsten Fehrs becomes interim council chairwoman

Kirsten Fehrs © dpa-Bildfunk Photo: Daniel Bockwoldt

Kirsten Fehrs from Hamburg is now the acting EKD council chairwoman.

The Hamburg bishop Kirsten Fehrs becomes provisional chairwoman of the council of the Evangelical Church in Germany. She will take over the office immediately on a provisional basis, as the EKD announced on Monday. Fehrs expressed her respect for Annette Kurschus’ decision. For the Council of the EKD, the resignation of Annette Kurschus brings with it an obligation to consistently continue to pursue the path it has taken in dealing with and preventing sexual violence.

Printed according to clear research results from the “Siegener Zeitung”

When the allegations against her became known last week, Kurschus was at an EKD conference and spoke to those present: “I examine myself intensively: Have I missed something, have I overlooked something? Is there a misunderstanding?”

When she was elected church leader in 2021, Kurschus promised to focus on those affected by abuse. That should be a matter for the boss.

A woman sits at a microphone and looks into space © dpa-Bildfunk Photo: Stefan Puchner

AUDIO: EKD Council Chairwoman Annette Kurschus under pressure (3 min)

But then in the last few days came the research from the “Siegener Zeitung”. Editor Tim Plachner spoke to people who accused a former church employee in Siegen of misconduct. “There are descriptions from those affected about very specific sexual acts that were carried out in a church in Siegen.”

The council chairwoman has since been under pressure because of the decades-old allegations of abuse against the former church employee.

Kurschus denies knowing about it

Kurschus was a pastor in Siegen in the late 1990s. At that time, according to the “Siegener Zeitung”, one of the victims and three other people reported sexual misconduct to her. Kurschus denies this, saying that the only topic in discussions was the employee’s sexual orientation. But editor Plachner says he has two affidavits from those who were said to have sought a conversation with Kurschus at the time.

“So we’re clearly talking about sexual misconduct by the person accused today. There was also talk about this student-teacher relationship, which is assumed to be an abuse of power. That’s what was described to us by the two witnesses or informants we have.”

“Slap in the face for those affected”

In Korntal near Stuttgart, Detlev Zander is committed to coming to terms with the Protestant church. He was also a victim of sexual violence as a child. He and others concerned fear that the fuss surrounding the council chairwoman will damage their work.

“If I stand up and say that I’m making this issue a matter for the boss, and then she gets involved in such a scandal, then it’s simply unbelievable,” says Zander. For every single person affected who now notices this, it is a slap in the face.

Further information

Kerstin Claus © picture alliance/dpa |  Kay Nietfeld

The federal government has appointed Kerstin Claus as the new abuse commissioner. She will take office on April 1st for five years.

Kerstin Claus, the Federal Government Abuse Commissioner, believes that churches in particular today need to communicate offensively and not reticently for the benefit of those affected.

“Anything that leads to an issue taking on another dimension day after day is harmful. And it is especially difficult for those affected, who must have the right to have the issues dealt with appropriately, quickly and transparently becomes.”

The Siegen public prosecutor’s office has not yet brought any charges against the accused. The investigation continues.

With information from Christina Zühlke.

Further information

Building of the Protestant North Church © NDR

As part of a summer camp run by the Pomerania church district, photos of young people showering were taken.

Cross on a dictionary with the word abuse.  © picture alliance / Bildagentur-online/Ohde Photo: Bildagentur-online/Ohde

An EKD disciplinary court found it proven that the man had repeatedly abused children and young people.

Vicar General Sascha-Philipp Geißler heads the staff office "Prevention and intervention", which processes reports of sexual assaults in the Archdiocese of Hamburg.  © Christian Charisius/dpa

Since the “Prevention and Intervention” staff unit was set up in 2011, the Archdiocese of Hamburg has received 272 incident reports.

Karl Haucke, affected person and member of the steering group, is reflected in a picture in the exhibition that shows himself as a child.  © dpa-Bildfunk Photo: Friso Gentsch/dpa

Photos and short texts shed light on the fates of those affected. Behind this is a research project at the university.

A woman speaks via a monitor at the 2021 Synod in Hanover.  © dpa-Bildfunk/EKD Photo: Jens Schulze

The church parliament voted for Anna-Nicole Heinrich from Regensburg at the digital spring synod on Saturday.

Ex-bishop Margot Käßmann speaks in the Marktkirche in Hanover on March 18, 2012 © picture alliance / dpa Photo: Peter Steffen

She was Hanover’s regional bishop, chairwoman of the EKD council and is still the “bishop of the hearts” today. A portrait of the theologian Margot Käßmann.

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NDR Culture | The morning | November 20, 2023 | 12:20 p.m

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