FaithWorld

Vatican removes German ‘bishop of bling’ over luxury home

(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.

German Catholic bishops pick pope aide Cardinal Marx as their new leader

(German Cardinal Reinhard Marx at the Vatican March 4, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi)

Germany’s Catholic bishops elected Munich Cardinal Reinhard Marx their new leader on Wednesday, picking a close associate of Pope Francis already working on Vatican reform to also guide them at home.

Marx’s election in Germany, one of the richest and most influential national churches in the 1.2-billion-strong Roman Catholic world, enhanced his status among the men the pope has called on to help him revitalize the Catholic Church.

Known in Germany as a spokesman for social and economic justice, he gave his 2008 book on a just world economy the title “Das Kapital” in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the magnum opus of Karl Marx, the German founder of communism.

Australian Christian missionary arrested on second trip to North Korea

(North Koreans pay their respects in front of statues of North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung and former leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, on the second anniversary of the death of Kim Jong Il,  December 17, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA)

An Australian man has been arrested while doing missionary work in North Korea, his wife told Reuters on Wednesday, making him the second foreign Christian missionary to be held by the North.

The wife of 75-year-old John Short told Reuters her husband was arrested in Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, on Sunday and had been open about his religious work on his second trip to the isolated country.

from Photographers' Blog:

Prayers during wartime

Midyat, Turkey

By Umit Bektas

Sunday mass has just begun in Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church. It is seven o’clock in the morning and the streets of Midyat, where the majority of the population is Muslim Kurdish, are empty.

But despite the calm outside, the historical church is overcrowded with a community of three hundred people, mostly children. Candles are lit, hymns are sung and prayers are made.

The reason that the mass is so crowded today is not because it is the festival of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. It is because for over two years now, Syriac Christian families escaping the bloody war in Syria just across the border have been joining the congregation, adding to the Turkish Christian citizens of Midyat.

German bishops tell Vatican: Catholics reject sexual morality rules

(Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (R), head of the German Bishops’ Conference, speaks during a news conference in Vatican October 14, 2013. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi)

Germany’s Catholic bishops, responding to a worldwide Vatican survey, said on Monday that many Church teachings on sexual morality were either unknown to the faithful there or rejected as unrealistic and heartless.

They said the survey, drawn up for a synod on possible reforms in October, showed most German Catholics disputed Church bans on birth control and premarital or gay sex and criticized rules barring the divorced from remarriage in church.

Hungarian Jews threaten boycott of Holocaust commemoration over anti-Semitism

(A boat sails past a memorial on the banks of the Danube river in Budapest January 27, 2006, symbolizing shoes of Hungarian Jews who were shot at the riverside during World War II. International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is being marked around the world today. REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh)

Hungarian Jewish leaders said on Tuesday they may stay away from commemorations of the Holocaust in 2014 because of resurgent anti-Semitism in a nation that has struggled to come to terms with a wartime role in deporting Jews.

The Hungarian government is planning to mark the 70th anniversary of June 1944, when 437,000 Jews were sent to Nazi death camps within weeks. In total, about half a million Jews perished before the Budapest ghetto was liberated in 1945.

Pope’s choice of new Catholic cardinals puts emphasis on the poor

(Faithful watch a maxi screen as Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from the window of the Apostolic Palace in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican January 12, 2014. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini)

Pope Francis put his first stamp on the group at the top of the Roman Catholic hierarchy on Sunday, naming 19 new cardinals from around the world and emphasizing his concern for poor countries.

Sixteen of them are “cardinal electors” under 80 and thus eligible to enter a conclave to elect a pope. They come from Italy, Germany, Britain, Nicaragua, Canada, Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Chile, Burkina Faso, the Philippines and Haiti.

Pope Francis to set up special committee on child sex abuse by priests

(Workers erect a Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican December 5, 2013. This year’s Christmas tree to decorate St Peter’s Square comes from Bavaria in Germany, and is 25 meters tall and weighs 7.2 tons. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini )

Pope Francis is to set up a special committee to help protect children against sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, the archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, said on Thursday.

The move is Francis’ first major step to address the crisis that has discredited the church, in the face of charges the Vatican has not done enough to protect children or make amends.

German bishops push reform to welcome divorced and remarried Catholics

(Stuttgart’s Catholic Bishop Gebhard Fürst, seen here at a memorial service for victims of a school shooting, on March 21, 2009. REUTERS/Bernd Weissbrod)

Germany’s Roman Catholic bishops plan to push ahead with proposed reforms to reinstate divorced and remarried parishioners despite a warning from the Vatican’s top doctrinal official, according to a senior cleric.

Stuttgart Bishop Gebhard Fürst told a meeting of lay Catholics at the weekend that the bishops had already drafted reform guidelines and aimed to approve them at their next plenary meeting in March.

German “luxury bishop” settles with court over 1st class flight-to-poverty case

(Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst makes his inaugural address during a service of worship in Limburg Cathedral January 20, 2008. REUTERS/Wolfgang Radtke/KNA-Bild)

A German court has dropped for the time being an investigation into a Roman Catholic prelate known as the “luxury bishop” over accusations he lied under oath about taking a first-class flight to visit poverty projects in India.

State prosecutors had sought to have Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg fined for making false affidavits about the flight, but the court accepted a 20,000-euro settlement.