“Open questions” in the rentzing case

Carsten Uwe Rentzing © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

Since announcing his resignation on Friday, Saxony's regional bishop Rentzing has gone into hiding. The church leadership wants to decide on Monday about the further procedure. Meanwhile, an online petition calls for Rentzing to remain in office.

The president of Saxony's regional church office, Hans-Peter Vollbach, has expressed regret at the way regional bishop Carsten Rentzing has handled the accusations against him. The current problem situation is due to the fact that Rentzing "has been hesitant in dealing with his past or at least has left questions unanswered," Vollbach told the Evangelischer Pressedienst (epd) in Dresden on Wednesday. Whether this happened consciously or unconsciously, he could not judge.

Rentzing, who is considered to be extremely conservative, had surprisingly announced his resignation on Friday after continued criticism of his person. An online petition launched Wednesday, however, advocates for Rentzing to remain in office. Until 17.30 o'clock on Wednesday had just under 1.200 people signed the petition to the regional church office. Who wrote the document initially remained unclear.

At the same time, there is a petition that has been running since the end of September, initiated among others by some pastors of the Saxon regional church, in which Rentzing is called upon "to take a stand and distance himself from the New Right". These had on Wednesday to 17.30 o'clock just under 1.000 people signed.

Church leadership: 'elitist, nationalistic, anti-democratic'

The background to the resignation announcement includes texts Rentzing is said to have written as a student for the right-wing conservative magazine "Fragments". In addition, he is said to have acted as its co-editor. Church leaders on Sunday classified the texts before them as "elitist, nationalistic in parts and anti-democratic". They were "unjustifiable from the point of view of that time and from today's point of view". Rentzing, 52, has been at the helm of the state's Protestant church for four years.

Vollbach stressed that the regional church ames that Rentzing also had contact with the head of the Berlin "Library of Conservatism", Wolfgang Fenske, to this day. This "naturally raises new questions," but only Rentzing can answer them. The library is assigned to the environment of the New Right. According to the regional church, Fenske had also attended Rentzing's inauguration as bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony in 2015.

Rentzing rejects, among other things, the blessing of homosexual couples.

He was repeatedly criticized, among other things, because he did not clearly distance himself from the AfD. Criticism had most recently been leveled at his membership in a beating student fraternity as well as a 2013 lecture at the "Library of Conservatism".

No contact with Bishop Rentzig

The petition promoting his retention in office states, among other things: "We emphatically reject the judgments that a small but vocal part of the regional church is making about Bishop Rentzing's opinions and activities, some of which date back 30 years."

Vollbach said in response to the question of whether the past of bishop candidates in Saxony will be examined more closely in the future: "I firmly ame that will be the case."

Rentzing is currently on vacation. Vollbach said the church leadership has no contact with him, but is making efforts, including to clarify whether the bishop needs personal or spiritual assistance. Church leadership to decide Monday whether to accept Rentzing's offer to resign.

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