When is a Lutheran Bishop not a Lutheran Bishop?

When she is a “German protestant” Bishop. Yes, Lutherans in Australia and the Missouri Synod can console themselves: the EKD is not a “real” Lutheran Church, but an amalgam of “22 Lutheran, Reformed and United Churches” – just the thing my ancestors fled from 170 years ago by emigrating to Australia.

Knowing that the Evangelische Kirche is not a “real” Lutheran Church might be some consolation for Lutheran readers of this blog. Some. In any case, you have to admit, she is one hell of a lot better looking than any other Lutheran bishops I know. OR Catholic ones, for that matter.


Bishop Margot Käßmann (Photo: Reuters)

Anyhow, let’s see how she scores according to this Reuters report:

German Protestants pick woman to head church
Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:07pm EDT
By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) – German Protestants on Wednesday elected Margot Kaessmann, a divorcee [one point off] and the Lutheran bishop of Hanover, to lead them, the first woman to take the post and only the third woman to head a major Christian church.

Kaessmann, 51, a regular on television talk shows and known in the media as the “pop bishop” [three points – any leader of a Christian Church today with a “pop” following has to have something going for them] was considered something of a controversial candidate to lead Germany’s roughly 25 million Protestants because she is divorced. [On further consideration, another point off ]

But she still won 132 of a possible 142 votes [add another point] at a synod of the EKD, an umbrella group for 22 Lutheran, Reformed and United Churches, to replace the retiring Berlin Bishop Wolfgang Huber, 67, as EKD chairman.

“It is a sign that we are saying: for biblical and theological reasons, it is possible for women as well as men to assume any office in the Protestant Church,” she said after the vote. [minus another point]

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) welcomed the choice. “The election sends a signal to the Church worldwide that God calls us to leadership without consideration of gender, color or descent,” Rev. Ishmael Noko, LWF general-secretary told the Ecumenical News International news agency at the synod in Ulm.

The mother of four will be charged with reviving the appeal of the Church, which has been losing members in recent years. [Mother of four?! That’s quite something for a career woman in Europe, isn’t it? Very appealing. Add three points.]

She has a reputation as a modernizer [lose two points] and supporter of closer dialogue between Catholics and Protestants [add three points]. “We Are Church,” a reform group of Catholic lay people, said the election sent a signal of hope for Catholics who support women clergy. [Subtract four points – any one who “We Are Church” endorses has to be a bit of a worry…]

“I very much want to strengthen ecumenicism in our country,” she was quoted by German media as saying. [Okay – we’ll take that on face value, though I don’t really know what she means other than increase friendliness between the EKD and the Catholic Church. The EKD has less chance of restoring full communion with the Catholic Church than the Anglican Communion. Add two points]

German-born Pope Benedict is firmly against any change in the celibate male clergy in Catholicism, the world’s largest Church, and offered last week to take in conservative Anglicans opposed to female priests and gay bishops in their churches. [Um. Tell us something we don’t know. But I guess this is the journalist’s way of saying: “Fat Chance” to future Catholic/Protestant unity in Germany.]

The only other female heads of large churches are Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the Episcopal Church in the United States and National Bishop Susan Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. Queen Elizabeth is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England but Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams is its head. [hmm. We won’t quibble] The Church of England has women clergy and a recent decision to allow women bishops could open its top post to women, but conservatives are trying to limit their powers.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers in Berlin and Tom Heneghan in Paris; editing by Noah Barkin)

So, Bishop Käßmann scores three points from me. What does that mean? I don’t know…

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6 Responses to When is a Lutheran Bishop not a Lutheran Bishop?

  1. William Tighe says:

    I seem to remember that some years ago she threw a kind of “hissy-fit” at a World Council of Churches meeting over the demand of the Orthodox member-churches to change the manner of voting, so that resolutions like, e.g., in favor of WO or recognizing homosexual relationships couldn’t pass by mahority vote, but would have to be agreed by a majority of members of each of the “church families” that made up the WCC. As I recall, the Orthodox made it pretty clear that for the WCC to go on record as supporting WO or other “liberal” innovations would make their continued membership in it impossible, and so they demanded changes.

    “Our Margot” went on about how objectionable the Orthodox stance was, and how it “hurt” female clergymen like herself, and she added (I think) that perhaps the WCC itself would no longer have any point if its actions were to be hamstrung in this way.

    • Schütz says:

      Minus five points then for talking the talk of ecumenism but not walking the walk…

      I think that brings her to -2. That’s more like it.

    • Antonio says:

      Dr Tighe:

      I’ve read somewhere that there is a group of anglo-lutheran-catholics (or something lie that) that have already sent a letter to the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. The letter -so it is said- was letter forwarded to the CDF.
      Even if this is not the case, do you think that something similar to what may be happening with anglo-catholics could happen with groups of Lutherans?
      I think that Lutherans in Sweden even have benedictine monasteries… (something I never though).
      Thanks in advance.

      • William Tighe says:

        I know something about this, but not very much; and what I know makes me wonder what kind of response Rome will make, especially as the group to which you refer is small, even tiny, and I have little sense of how many lay members it has.

        There is one Swedish Lutheran Benedictine monastery, Ostanback, which I have visited, and whose Prior is the noted Biblical scholar Hans Cavallin (Brother Caesarius). There are a number of woman religious communities, some of which have gone quite liberal and have “pastoresses” among them, others of which are more “service-oriented” than anything else, and then there is Alsike cloister, the one truly “traditional” house among them. I would say that neither Ostanback nor Alsike have any realistic hope for the future of the Church of Sweden or for them in it, but while Ostanback has a “wider vision” than Swedish high-churchianity, or even than “Anglican alliances,” Alsike seems (or seemed in 2006) less willing to look further afield than Ostanback.

  2. Dixie says:

    I think a few more points should be taken off for throwing a “hissy-fit”. It reflects poorly on all females if, to make her point, she has to throw a fit. And–the divorcee thing should require more than one point off since bishops in Rome and Constantinople are only men and only unmarried.

    • Peregrinus says:

      Don’t see that throwing a hissy fit is any worse for a woman than for a man. Do men throw hissy fits? Hell, yes; elsewhere on this page is a link ot a monumental hissy fit lately thrown by Hans Kung. And, in the interets of balance, when Peter Jensen finds something better to do that going to Lambeth, what is that but a very public hissy fit?

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