Thursday, 27 March 2014

Catholic bishop Under Fire For Spending £25million on new palatial home


A German Catholic bishop faced pressure to resign on Wednesday after it emerged that his new palatial residence would cost £25m, over six times the original estimate.

Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, bishop of Limburg, was investigated by a Vatican envoy last month after protests in his diocese against lavish spending.

His luxurious choice of home is at odds with Pope Francis's shift of the Church's focus towards simplicity and poverty.

The soaring cost of the stately residence next to Limburg's hilltop cathedral was made public by the diocese on Monday and was immediately criticised by churchgoers and officials.

Local Catholic Raimund Champert said: 'Such prestige projects simply does not fit with Catholicism

'The Church, like the Pope, has a responsibility to be humble and lead by example.

'We are not in the Middle Ages anymore.'

Christoph Hefter, a lay member of the diocesan council, said: 'The cost is shocking, it is beyond belief.'

Pope Francis, whose simple style contrasts with the more baroque tastes of his predecessor Benedict, whom he replaced in March, said last week he wanted the Church to serve the poor and strip itself of 'vanity, arrogance and pride.'

Tebartz-van Elst's finances will now be audited by a commission appointed by Germany's bishops conference.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch has indicated a final report could be ready in about two months.

Asked whether Tebartz-van Elst should step down, Rev. Reinhold Kalteier, head of the Limburg priests' council, said 'it is up to the bishops' conference and Rome now'.

Diocese spokesman Martin Wind said the 53-year-old bishop had appealed for trust and patience.

He said: 'We will have to wait to see how the audit turns out to see where responsibilities lie, and who is to blame or not to blame'

Last month's visit by Vatican monitor Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo marked a new willingness in Rome to focus on the leadership styles of bishops.


One of the key messages of the current Pope's leadership is that he wants to be less aloof and closer to their congregations.

After Lajolo spent a week interviewing Tebartz-van Elst, his staff and his clerical and lay critics, the bishop said: 'I am very sorry for any carelessness or misjudgement on my part


During the more conservative reign of Pope Benedict, Tebartz-van Elst was tipped as a candidate to replace the soon-to-retire Cardinal Joachim Meisner, a close ally of the German-born pontiff, as head of the country's largest and richest diocese, Cologne.

That speculation cooled after Pope Francis was elected in March and ended as the extent of his spending emerged.

Tebartz-van Els already has legal problems after prosecutors on Thursday accused him of lying to a court.

Chief Hamburg prosecutor Nana Frombach said in a statement that she had asked the court to fine Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst an unspecified amount for providing false testimony in a case he brought against Der Spiegel magazine.

The Bishop had brought action against the magazine after they ran a piece in which he was quoted as saying that he would only fly business class on aeroplanes.

Tebartz-van Elst's office had no comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...