This is a massive tragedy. Margot Käßmann resigned earlier today both as Bishop of the Hannover Landeskirche and as Chair of the EKD Council (Ratsvorsitzende).
Following the incident a few days ago when she drove through a red light, was stopped by the police and found to be well over the alcohol limit, she resigned all her posts. The Council had a teleconference last night and gave her unanimous support – and I gather support has come in from just about everywhere. She made no excuses and made no attempt to duck her responsibility. So, her resignation press conference demonstrated just what the EKD and Germany have lost: a woman of stature, humility, dignity, clarity and courage. She is the best communicator the EKD has and is by far the best media operator in the Church.
When she finished her statement and rose to leave the press conference, the journalists applauded her.
It is too early to say why she resigned so quickly and against the will of so many in and outside of the church. She said that her ability to offer a prophetic critique had been compromised, but I am not sure that is true. I think many people are more ready to listen to the challenging voice of one who has ‘fallen’ and speaks with humility from a place of realism (and not from a pedestal of righteousness). Her departure is a tragedy and I have emailed her personally to assure her of my personal support, prayer and love.
Her statement ended with this affirmation:
Zuletzt: Ich weiß aus vorangegangenen Krisen: Du kannst nie tiefer fallen als in Gottes Hand. Für diese Glaubensüberzeugung bin ich auch heute dankbar.
‘You can never fall deeper than the hands of God.’ James Jones once wrote a Lent book called Falling into Grace. In it he makes the point that whenever we fall into sin we then fall further into the grace of God. Clearly that is what Margot is saying. That same grace must lead her through this trauma and then restore her gifts and experience to the service of the world through her service of the Church. She must be encouraged to speak, to preach and to write – she is brilliant. That’s what I am praying for her on a very sad day.