Pope Francis Gets Tough with ‘bling Bishop’

Irish Examiner
October 24, 2013

However, the pontiff stopped short of dismissing him outright, a step which many German Catholics and the media had called for.

In a highly unusual move, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg was ordered to leave his diocese while an investigation and audit into cost over-runs is held, a Vatican statement said.

The bishop, who met the Pope on Monday, “was currently not in a position to carry out his episcopal ministry”.

It said he should stay outside his diocese “for a period,” and that it would be administered in his absence by a vicar-general.

The issue has proven a major embarrassment for the Pope, who has called for a more austere Church that sides with the poor. He has told bishops not to live like princes, and has also promised to clean up the murky finances of the Vatican bank.

The German media has dubbed Tebartz-van Elst “the bling bishop” after an audit of his spending, ordered after a Vatican monitor visited Limburg last month, revealed the residence cost at least ˆ31m — six times more than planned.

He has apologised for any “carelessness or misjudgment on my part”, but denies wrongdoing.

Tebartz-van Elst has also been accused by German magistrates of lying under oath about a first-class flight to visit poverty programmes in India.

German media, citing official documents, said the residence had been fitted with a free-standing bath that cost ˆ15,000, a conference table that cost ˆ25,000 and a private chapel for ˆ2.9m.

The Pope’s decision on the fate of Tebartz-van Elst was unusual because it appeared to leave him in limbo, falling somewhere between a suspension and an outright dismissal.

This was apparently to buy time for the Vatican and German Church leaders to review the situation in the troubled diocese.








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