Big spending German bishop comes up before the pope
Holy See tight lipped on details of encounter
Picture: Vatican Insider/La Stampa
“The meeting went well...”. This is all the Bishop of the German diocese of Limburg, Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst, had to say about his meeting with Francis this morning. The bishop has been criticised for a costly renovation of a diocesan centre and Episcopal residence. The cost of the project skyrocketed from €5 to €21 million. The Pope met with the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, just before receiving Van Elst.
The Holy See Press Office has not published any information regarding potential decisions that may have been taken during the meeting between Francis and the bishop, who arrived in Rome a few days ago and is staying in the Santa Maria dell'Anima residence. The bishop has received a visit from the Prefect of the Papal Household and Benedict XVI’s secretary, Georg Gänswein. The German prelate may not return to his diocese straight away, partly because of the public opposition Limburg’s priests have shown towards him.
Van Elst has been at the centre of a fierce media campaign for weeks. He is accused of having an “authoritarian style” and squandering the diocese’s money. German journalists say the cost of renovating the diocesan centre near Limburg Cathedral, which is where the Episcopal residence is also located, ballooned to €31 million after it was originally estimated at €5,5 million. It is not clear to what extent the diocesan finance council was involved. The German episcopate has set up a commission which is currently looking into the matter. According to the Sunday issue of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the bishop’s resignation is “out of the question” but that a public apology may be made.
Source: Vatican Insider/La Stampa
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