Vatican removes German ‘bishop of bling’ over luxury home

March 28, 2014

(A car drives past the residence of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst next to Limburg Cathedral (L) in Limburg October 14, 2013.REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)

The Vatican has removed a German bishop because he spent 31 million euros ($43 million) of Church funds on an extravagant residence when Pope Francis was preaching austerity.

It said the atmosphere in the diocese of Limburg had become such that Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst could no longer carry out a “fruitful exercise” of his ministry there.

Tebartz-van Elst, dubbed the “bishop of bling”, had been ordered to stay out of his diocese temporarily last October during a local Church investigation and audit of cost over-runs. He offered his resignation at the time.

A statement on Wednesday said the Vatican department that oversees bishops had now studied the investigation’s findings and accepted his resignation.

The 108-page report for the German Bishops’ Conference said Tebartz-van Elst had demanded that all those involved in the project should observe “strict secrecy” about its costs.

It said the accounting and construction procedures used “a system that was not transparent either to the diocese or the public”, adding that the bishop “alone must also carry the full responsibility” because he did not share information.

Another prelate, Monsignor Manfred Grothe, has been appointed to run the diocese as an administrator on the Vatican’s behalf for the time being and a position will be found for Tebartz-van Elst in due course, the Vatican said.

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