Anyone following Irish current affairs in the past few months will hardly have failed to notice the subject of resigning – I use this term in preference to “resignation” as it implies a certain ambiguity in the sense that one might also comment that anyone who has been following Irish current affairs in the past few months will hardly have failed to experience a feeling of resignation. A number of bishops have (reluctantly) offered their resignations following the scandals resulting from the investigation of child abuse in the church. Some others have not. Two government ministers have resigned in the past week as a result of what can be best described as inappropriate conduct.
This evening, the top headline in the German media is the resignation of Bishop Margot Kässmann, the head of the Council of Protestant Churches in the country, both from her position as bishop of
Last Saturday evening, Margot Kässmann ran a red light in
I am not generally an admirer of church functionaries, however this evening I have nothing but admiration for Margot Kässmann. Her resignation is an act of courage, a clear recognition of the responsibility involved in holding a position of leadership, particularly when this position defines itself or is defined as one which gives a particular authority regarding moral and spiritual issues.
The contrast to the Irish Catholic bishops is, to say the least, striking. Given the current daily increase in reports of abuse of children within the German Catholic Church, I also have the feeling that some bishops here may be feeling a little uncomfortable this evening. Of course, that would only be the case if they are really listening to what she said today; the freedom to critically voice challenges to society from a privileged public position is only there when one’s own personal integrity is unquestioned. Somehow I have the feeling that this moral clarity is something absent in the vast majority of Catholic bishops and church leaders.