THE Lutheran Bishop of Saxony, in eastern Germany, Dr Carsten Rentzing, resigned last Friday after only four years in the post, after criticism of connections to the extreme right-wing political movement “New Right”.
His resignation came after more than 800 pastors and church members signed an online petition asking him to distance himself from, and renounce links and membership to far-right organisations in Saxony.
“In order to avert damage to my Church, I have decided to make my office available as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.
One of the initiators of the petition Nächstenliebe verlangt Klarheit (“Neighbourly love demands clarity”), a Leipzig pastor, the Revd Frank Martin, told the Saxony Sunday newspaper Sonntag that the petition “can perhaps be seen as the reason for the resignation, but not as its cause. I would like a more detailed explanation from the Bishop.”
Dr Rentzing is considered to be a Conservative bishop who is against blessing same-sex partnerships and clashed with the grassroots church organisation Frei und Fromm (Free and Pious) that propagates an open society. He was elected in May 2015 by the Saxony Synod, after six rounds of voting, and won narrowly by only one vote. He was unable to bridge the strong political divide in the Church that reflects the divisions in society in the former East German state.
Dr Rentzing was also the Deputy Presiding Bishop in the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany. On Friday evening, the Presiding Lutheran Bishop of Hanover, the Most Revd Ralf Meister, issued a statement saying that he hopes unity can now be achieved, and that together they have “displayed the diversity of the theological spectrum within the Evangelical Lutheran churches in Germany”.