German Bishop of Bling suspended over spending

A German bishop who has been criticised for his allegedly luxurious lifestyle has suspended from his episcopal ministry and instructed to live outside his diocese for an unspecified time.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg had travelled to Rome to see Pope Francis after the head of the German bishops’ conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, had briefed the Pontiff on the row created in Germany by reports of the bishop’s spending.

The 53-year-old bishop — who has been called the Bishop of Bling — had come under fire for spending at least $NZ50 million renovating his residence and diocesan offices. Then German prosecutors accused him of filing false affidavits in a lawsuit over reporting on his spending habits.

After an investigation by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the retired president of Vatican City, in September, the Limburg diocese issued a statement claiming that the bishop had been cleared of wrongdoing.

But on October 23 the Vatican announced that “a situation has arisen in which Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst cannot, at the present moment, continue to exercise his episcopal ministry”.

The announcement said the German Bishops’ Conference had set up a commission to carry out a detailed examination of the matter of the building of the bishop’s residence.

Pending the results of this examination, the Holy See considered it appropriate for the bishop to stay outside the diocese.

In the meantime, Father Stadtdekan Wolfgang Rosch, who had been due to become vicar general next January 1, has been named by the Vatican as the administrator of the diocese.

The Central Committee of German Catholics, which represents Catholic lay associations, said it was satisfied with the decision to suspend the bishop.

“Pope Francis’s decision offers a chance at a new beginning in the diocese of Limburg where the situation has become heavy in recent weeks both for believers there and for the Church in Germany as a whole,” said its president, Alois Glueck.


Catholic News Agency

ABC News

Vatican Information Service

Image: Deutsche Welle

Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , ,