The bishop of the national church of Iceland has called for early elections for a new bishop, and will not run again.
For at least the past year, Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson has been beset by a sex scandal involving the previous bishop – the late Ólafur Skúlasson – whom several women, including his own daughter, have accused of sexual abuse. Karl, who was a priest at the time of the abuse, concealed evidence of this bishop’s crimes.
Since then, the calls for him to step down have resounded from inside and outside the church. On Saturday, the bishop announced that church elections for his replacement would take place six months early, and that he would not run again.
Priests and theologists can all run for the office of bishop, but only other priests, theologists, and related church officials have the right to vote for one. Addressing church council, he called for elections for his replacement to take place next summer, six months before they would normally take place.
Karl admitted that the sex scandal played a part in his decision. “It is very trying to sit under accusations, not only on one’s self personally, but also on his replacement.”
He emphasised, though, that he is not quitting per se. “I am not quitting, but will definitely resign at peace with God and men, and look forward to taking on new projects.”