While the church struggles to re-invent itself after grossly mishandling a sex scandal within its walls, the demand for the next bishop of Iceland to be a woman appears to be stronger than ever.
As reported, the current bishop of Iceland, Karl Sigurbjörnsson, announced that church elections for his replacement would take place six months early, and that he would not run again. For at least the past year, he 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.
Talk has already begun over who might be a possible replacement. Priests, theologists, and other church officials take part in the elections, both in running for the bishop’s seat and voting on it. Two names are becoming more prominent in the discussion about potential front runners: Rev. Kristján Valur Ingólfsson of the historic Skálholt church, and Rev. Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir, who hails from the Westfjords.
The magazine Fréttatíminn spoke with eight priests about the matter, who all brought up her name as a contender. While a woman has never held the position of Bishop of Iceland, professor of theology Hjalti Hugason is quoted in Fréttatíminn as saying, “Increasing trust [in the church] depends on voting a woman into office when followed by the two men who preceded her.”
Elections for a new bishop will be held next summer.