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
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.
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.
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.
The post first appeared on www.ndr.de