The Bishop of Iceland has apologised for his, and the church’s, part in a sex scandal involving a previous bishop, but said that he intends to remain on at his post. Other priests take issue with the bishop sharing his responsibility with others.
As reported, Guðrún Ebba Ólafsdóttir, daughter of former bishop Ólafur Skúlason, spoke out last year about the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. After several other women came forward saying the same, an investigation was launched.
Among the conclusions of the investigation was that Bishop of Iceland Karl Sigurbjörnsson – at the time of the incident just a priest on the church council – hid the initial letter of complaint submitted by Guðrún Ebba, and in fact did not file it with the church office for a year and a half.
This has prompted criticism and outrage, and not just from the general public – numerous priests have also expressed shocked and sadness over this, and have said they want the bishop to resign.
Eyjan now reports that the bishop apologised today, on behalf of himself and the church, for how the matter was handled. He said that he never intended to hurt anyone, and that the church was ill prepared to handle a sex abuse case.
The bishop added that he has no control over the findings of the investigation, and he intends to stay on as bishop.
Not everyone is satisfied with this response, however. Lutheran priest Toshiki Toma, for example, writing on his blog, takes issue with this bishop sharing responsibility for his own actions with everyone else in the church.
“How can we ‘ordinary’ priests share the responsibility for Guðrún Ebba’s letter being forgotten in a drawer for so long?,” he asks, “(In the end, this means that it was more important to protect Bishop Ólafur than to lend a helping hand to this woman, to my understanding.) Was it because of the church’s system? Or because of the bishop’s own decisions?”