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New Protestant leader

February 28, 2010

The German Protestant church has selected a new leader. Nikolaus Schneider is to replace former head bishop Margot Kaessman, who resigned last week after police caught her driving drunk.

Nikolaus Schneider
Schneider is the new leader of Germany's 25 million LutheransImage: AP

The German Protestant church has apparently settled on a new leader to replace the popular Margot Kaessmann, who was arrested for drunk driving earlier in the week. Leaders are backing Nikolaus Schneider to take over.

The church council held a two-day summit in the town of Tutzing on the Starnberger See in Bavaria to decide who they would recommend as Margot Kaessmann's successor.

Bishop of Bavaria Joachim Friedrich and Synod chair Katrin Goering-Eckardt lent their support to 62-year-old Nikolaus Schneider, who has been fulfilling the role provisionally since Kaessmann's resignation earlier this week following for a drunk-driving arrest.

If all goes according to the church's plan, the synod will elect Schneider for another five years in November. Schneider also reiterated his interest in taking over the role. "I am open to answering positively," he said, when asked whether he would accept the role if offered.

Following Kaessmann's plan

Goering-Eckardt described Schneider's appointment as the natural continuation of Kaessmann's tenure. "The plan that we began with Margot Kaessmann we will continue successfully under the direction of Nikolaus Schneider," she said.

But the council's recommendation is not official, and must be ratified by the church parliament in any case. An official recommendation will not be made until the synod convenes in November.

Margot Kaessmann stepped down from her post as leader of Germany's 25 million Lutherans after she was pulled over by police for running a red light in a car provided by the church. She was found to have a blood-alcohol level three times above the legal limit.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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