Vatican suspends German Bishop for lavish spending
The Vatican has suspended a German Bishop over his alleged lavish spending. Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst is accused of spending more than 31m euros on renovating his official residence. He is under investigation for his spending after his residence in Limburg, Germany. The Vatican said it deemed "appropriate... a period of leave from the diocese" for the bishop. The suspension comes two days after he met the Pope to discuss the matter. The Vatican says Tebartz-Van Elst cannot carry out his ministry as long as the investigation in ongoing and he's been ordered to stay outside his diocese.
The head of Germany's main lay Catholic group, the Central Committee of German Catholics, Alois Glueck, welcomed the Vatican's decision. He said, "Pope Francis's decision offers the chance of a first step toward a new beginning in the Limburg diocese, because the situation has become an increasing burden for the faithful there, and in all of Germany, over recent weeks."
Bishop’s spending habits - had become infamous in Germany, where many people pay Church tax to the state. The tax raised 5.2 bn euros for Catholics and 4.6 bn euros for Protestants in 2012. He was criticised for a first-class flight to India to visit the poor. His official residence is at the heart of the criticism, after renovations were originally costed at 5.5m euros.
Some German media have come down hard on the bishop, with Der Spiegel criticizing him for taking a first-class flight to India, where he visited with the poor, but Tebartz-Van Elst said that he had only gotten an upgrade and that he's no fan of champagne or caviar. German media are reporting that the residence was fitted with a bath that cost 15,000 euros, a conference table for 25,000 euros and a private chapel that cost 2.9m euros. The story has attracted heavy coverage and has stoked controversy among Catholics.
Pope Francis has also signalled his intention to clean up the Vatican's finances, appointing a commission to advise him on reforms. There is no surprise in Rome that the Vatican has ordered the bishop's suspension from his duties while the spending row is investigated.
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