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February 24, 2010

German Lutheran bishop to resign after alleged drunk-driving offense


A German Lutheran bishop, elected in October to lead the 24-million Protestant members of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), said she is resigning days after she was apprehended for an alleged drunk-driving offense.

Bishop Margot Kaessmann said she will immediately give up her posts as a bishop and as head of the EKD, but will continue as a pastor, according to Ecumenical News International (ENI).

Kaessmann, chairperson of the EKD, the umbrella organization of Germany's Protestants, was stopped by police while driving Feb. 20 in Hannover, Germany, the news release said. She allegedly ran a red traffic light, and her blood alcohol level was three times over the legal limit, ENI reported.

"Last Saturday, I made a big mistake," the BBC reported Kaessmann as telling reporters Feb. 24. "I hereby resign from all my church responsibilities."

The EKD had reported earlier Feb. 24 that all 14 members of its leadership council voiced their confidence in Kaessmann during a conference call.

Kaessmann, 51, was the first woman to become the highest representative of German Protestants when she was elected last year. The German church leader, a mother of four children, became the youngest-ever chairperson of the EKD council. She was elected to succeed Bishop Wolfgang Huber, 67, who retired at the end of 2009.

The EKD is the umbrella organization for 22 regional Lutheran, United and Reformed churches. It accounts for most of the country's Protestant Christians.

Kaessmann had been bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hannover since 1999.

Ecumenical News International contributed to this report.

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