First female Bishop of Iceland to be elected?

Since Bishop of Iceland Karl Sigurbjörnsson announced at the last synod that he will step down in 2012, preparations have been under way for the election of a new Bishop. Many of the likely candidates are female.

Elections within the National Church of Iceland are voted on by bishops, priests, teachers at the University of Iceland theology department and some laymen. But a recent rule change means that chairpersons of congressional councils, and their deputies in southwest Iceland, now also have the right to vote. That means some 500 people will be eligible to vote in the upcoming election for a new church leader.

Speculation on probable candidates is already rife within the church, although nobody has formally put themselves forward yet. Vísir.is spoke to many different priests around the country, searching for who they think should/will stand. A lot of women were named and some priests said that a female Bishop of Iceland is inevitable either at the next election or the one after that.

Many priests were united in the belief that the next bishop must have the common touch and be good with the public, whether male or female.

One of the most often named possible candidates was University of Iceland theology professor Arnfríður Guðmundsdóttir – although she remained candid when asked; saying that discussions on the role and function of the Bishop’s position should be completed before candidates are named publicly.

Three other women and two men were also named as potential candidates for Bishop; while Hjálmar Jónson, the priest at Reykjavík’s Dómkirkjan cathedral, will definitely not be standing for Bishop, he told Vísir.is.

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