German bishop under fire for spending ordered to Rome
BERLIN — A German bishop under fire for lavish spending traveled to Rome on Sunday for talks at the Vatican, church officials said, placing his future in the hands of a pope who has espoused a simple lifestyle.
Allegations of lavish spending by the Rev. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, bishop of Limburg, have stirred controversy among Roman Catholics in the country where Martin Luther began the Reformation five centuries ago in response to what he said were excesses and abuses within the church.
A spokesman for the diocese of Limburg, Martin Wind, told the German news agency dpa that Tebartz-van Elst was meeting with church officials in Rome but gave no further details. German media said he made the trip aboard a budget airline.
At the center of the controversy is the 31 million euro ($42 million) price tag for the construction of a new bishop's residence complex and related renovations. Tebartz-van Elst told the Bild newspaper that the bill was for 10 projects and there were extra costs because of regulations on buildings under historical protection.
Last week, Hamburg prosecutors asked a court to levy an unspecified fine against the bishop for false testimony in a case he filed against Der Spiegel magazine, which reported he had flown first class to India to visit poor children. The bishop insisted he had flown business class.
Pope Francis has followed a modest lifestyle and encouraged other church leaders to do the same.
In a statement on Sunday, the Limburg diocese said the bishop was “concerned about the escalation of the current discussion” and regrets the suffering of “many of the faithful in the diocese and beyond” because of the “current situation.”
“It is obvious to the bishop that the decision on his episcopal ministry in Limburg lies in the hands of the Holy Father,” the statement added.
German media say the controversy has split the 24 million-member Catholic community at a time when the church is struggling with diminishing numbers of followers.
“It hurts me because of the impression that wasting money is a core feature of the Church,” Julia Kloeckner, deputy chairwoman of Chancellor Angela Merkel's party, told the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Russia stakes claim to energy-rich Arctic
- N. Korean ship sought to pay judgement in lawsuit
- Israeli militant jailed in West Bank arson
- German prosecutor fired amid treason inquiry
- Taliban leader quits amid leadership rift
- Comets hold life building blocks
- Al-Qaida group in Syria targeted by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes
- Human rights issues cloud Strategic Dialogue meeting between U.S., Egypt
- Turkey aims guns at Kurdish rebels
- Zimbabwe suspends hunts amid outcry over lion’s death
- Taliban fracture outcome unclear