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German bishop to be probed over luxury lifestyle
Diocese visit shows Vatican's new focus on prompt action
- Tom Heneghan for Reuters
- September 10, 2013
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.
Mismanagement by bishops and the Vatican’s slow response were at the root of the sexual abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church over the past decade. There are no sexual abuse allegations in the Limburg controversy.
The diocese published a letter to Tebartz-van Elst from Marc Ouellet, the Vatican cardinal in charge of bishops, saying the controversy “strains the unity of the bishop and his people” and “threatens the integrity of your office and your person.