The Vatican launched a rare review of a German Catholic diocese on Monday following accusations its bishop spent lavishly on a new residence, putting him out of step with the new “church of the poor” promoted by Pope Francis.
The inquiry is officially called a “fraternal visit” to Limburg diocese by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the former Vatican nuncio (ambassador) in Berlin, and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst said in a statement he was looking forward to it.
Limburg diocese, which includes Germany’s financial capital Frankfurt, has been in turmoil for months as reports of high cost overruns put pressure on Tebartz-van Elst, 53.
A growing number of critics had already accused him of staging pompous church services and communicating poorly.
The visit marks a new willingness by the Vatican to get involved quickly when a bishop’s management is under fire.