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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Doubting Danish priest suspended
Thorkild Grosboel
Thorkild Grosboel is accused of sowing confusion
A Danish Lutheran priest has been suspended from his duties after confessing that he does not believe in God.

Thorkild Grosboel, pastor of Taarbaek, a town near the capital Copenhagen, said in a recent interview that "there is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection".

Local bishop Lise-Lotte Rebel suspended the priest for a week after a meeting with him on Tuesday at which she demanded that he retract his comments.

In Denmark, Lutheran priests are employed by the state and bishops do not have the power to dismiss them.

Ms Rebel described Mr Grosboel's comments as "totally unacceptable".

"With his comments, the pastor has created confusion and uncertainty about what the Church stands for," she said.


Ms Rebel said the priest could be allowed to return to his job, but added: "He will have to consider making significant concessions, clarifying that he did not want to sow doubt about the Church's confession, but rather trigger a debate.

"There should be no doubt that priests have committed themselves to act within the Church's confession of faith."

Mr Grosboel declined to comment. He is due to meet Ms Rebel again next week.

Tove Fergo, the Minister for Ecclesiastic Affairs and a Lutheran priest herself, said it was impossible to be a pastor without believing in the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ.

However, Mogens Lindhardt, the leader of Denmark's Theological College of Education, described Mr Grosboel's claims as "refreshing".

Country profile: Denmark
03 Jun 03  |  Country profiles

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