Report on Icelandic Bishop’s Sexual Offences Skip to content

Report on Icelandic Bishop’s Sexual Offences

A Truth commission set up to record the church’s reaction to allegation by a number of women about the sexual offences of former Bishop Ólafur Skúlason (d. 2008) is highly critical of many of the church’s institutions. Among the women is the late bishop’s daughter who says that he violated her when she was a teenager.

The allegations first came to light in 1996 when Skúlason was still Bishop of Iceland. Three women (or more) came forward claiming that the bishop has assaulted them. The Church council and the Deans’ Society both supported bishop Skúlason with resolutions. A year later Skúlason resigned as bishop over Iceland and the current Bishop Karl Sigurbjörnsson was elected in his place.

Bishop Sigurbjörnsson and Pastor Geir Waage. A painting of Bishop Skúlason in between. Photo: GVA/

In 2009, a year after Skúlason’s death, his daughter wrote a letter to Bishop Sigurbjörnsson saying that she wanted a meeting with the Church council (of which the bishop is chairman) to discuss her father’s offences against her. Sigurbjörnsson did not react to the letter until a year later and the letter was not officially registered in the bishop’s archives for months.

The report is highly critical of the reaction of the church and how it reacted when the allegations came up, which they say bordered on a conspiracy of silence. The commission said that Sigurbjörnsson should have reacted earlier to the letter from the bishop’s daughter. She finally did get a meeting with the Church council about a year after another woman who was the first to come forward with her allegations.

The report is long and very critical in many aspects. Bishop Sigurbjörnsson said that he will react in a special session of the Church assembly on June 14.


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