Voices from Russia

Saturday, 14 November 2009

MP Threatens To Break Ties with the EKD over Female Bishop as Head of the German Body

Margot Kässmann 2

Margot Kässmann (1958- ), new head of the EKD. Shall her election lead to the breakdown of the dialogue of the MP and EKD? Shall it lead to a general declaration on Orthodox relations with bodies that accept female ordination?

Dialogue between the MP and the Evangelical (Lutheran) Church of Germany (EKD) was amicable for 50 years. In fact, the two churches are planning to celebrate this long relationship in late November. However, that celebration will be the last official contact between the two religious groups, according to the Russian newspaper Kommersant. The election of a divorced female as the head of the EKD outrages many clergy in the MP. The Orthodox Church does not allow women to become priests, let alone take on leadership roles. Rev Georgy Zavershinsky noted that this election now makes dialogue between the two churches impossible. “A female bishop is a contradiction of evangelical principles”, Fr Georgy said. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all the Russias still has to rule on the matter. Conservative members of the MP support threats to ostracise German Protestants [over this matter]. Russian Orthodox priest Alexander Prilutski called the election of a woman [as the presiding bishop of the EKD] a “sign of crisis in Western society”.

However, the woman at the centre of the debate, Margot Kässmann, expressed surprise at the reaction from the Russian church [to her election] and sent a letter to Patriarch Kirill expressing her bewilderment about the attacks on her from Russia. She said that while she understood some churches do not allow women to become leaders, she also expected those churches to accept that this was possible in some [other] denominations. “Ecumenism (religious cooperation) is about accepting different churches and the roles within them”, Ms Kässmann said. “Mutual respect” was the basis for this, she added.

13 November 2009

Susan Houlton

Deutsche Welle (Voice of Germany)



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