Priests denounce non-believer decision

The Copenhagen Post (Denmark), Aug. 14, 2003

A scandal over the status of a Lutheran priest who openly avowed agnosticism continued with a joint statement from 158 members of the clergy.

A joint statement issued by 158 priests and theologians denounced the decision by Elsinore’s bishop to lift a seven-week suspension order on a priest who confessed he did not believe in God.

In July, Elsinore diocese bishop Lise Lotte Rebel formally withdrew her suspension of Pastor Thorkild Grosboell of Taarbeck, north of Copenhagen, and allowed him to resume his work as a priest “under supervision.”

The priest had caused a stir in June by openly expressing doubt in the basic tenets of the state Lutheran church: the eternal life, the existence of a heavenly father and the resurrection, in a newspaper interview.

The 158 priests said they found Grosboell’s statements incompatible with his role as priest in the Lutheran church and damaging to the church’s credibility.  They urged the bishop to take action and described the lifting of the suspension as “unacceptable.”

Denmark is a largely secular society with minimal church attendance.

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