Dr. Marie M. Fortune, one of the world’s leading specialists on sex violations in religious associations, commented that when people no longer have faith in their religious leaders it might be best for them to step aside so that a new leader can attempt to regain that trust.
Bishop of Iceland Karl Sigurbjörnsson. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
Fortune is currently in Iceland to lead a symposium and course for the employees of the National Church of Iceland on reactions to sexual violations within the institution.
She was asked by Fréttabladid about the position of Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson who has been criticized for his handling of reports of abuse committed by his predecessor.
Fortune described his reaction, which by some was considered insufficient, as typical among church leaders.
She added it is possible for religious associations to regain trust after such events but only if abuse victims are supported and the abusers made to face the consequences.
Betrayal of individuals within the church can be dealt with but not betrayal of the church as a whole which will repel its members, she stated.
Abuse victim Gudrún Ebba Ólafsdóttir and Dr. Berglind Gudmundsdóttir, a psychologist at the Landspítali national hospital who had a seat on the Church Council’s investigative commission, also spoke at today’s symposium, held at the University of Iceland.
Click here to read more about Ólafsdóttir’s story.