Top bishop resigns after driving drunk | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 24.02.2010
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Top bishop resigns after driving drunk

The head of Germany's Protestant Church has resigned from her post as the top-ranking Lutheran bishop. Police had caught her driving drunk.

Margot Kaessmann

Kaessmann's blood alcohol level was three times the limit

The head of the Lutheran Church in Germany, Margot Kaessmann, announced her resignation at a press conference on Wednesday after being pulled over for drunk driving days before.

"One of my advisers said stick to what your heart tells you to do," Kaessmann told reporters. "And my heart tells me clearly that I cannot stay in office without losing much of the authority I'd need for the post."

Her resignation as head of Germany's Protestants and Hanover's bishop is effective immediately, but she will remain a pastor in the local Hanover church.

Kaessmann's decision to resign came despite a vote of confidence from fellow Protestant leaders.

Police had stopped the 51-year-old, who was driving a car provided by the Church, for running a red light in Hanover on Saturday night. A test showed her blood alcohol level to be 0.154 percent, three times the legal limit for driving in Germany, prosecutors said.

"I am shocked at myself for committing such a grievous error," Kaessmann had told Bild newspaper. "I am aware how dangerous and irresponsible it is to drink and drive. I will accept the legal consequences."

She will face criminal proceedings for drunk driving, which could include a fine of one month's salary and loss of driving privileges for up to a year, prosecutors said.

Historic election

Kaessmann was elected in October 2009 to be the first woman to head the Protestant Church in Germany, an umbrella organization that unites Germany's 25 million Protestant Christians. She was a controversial choice, because she was divorced. Kaessmann was viewed as a modernizer and a supporter of improving ties with Catholics.

She gained attention recently by calling for a pullout of German troops from Afghanistan, saying there was no such thing as a just war.

Editor: Nancy Isenson

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