Pope holds crisis talks on fate of Germany's 'luxury bishop'

VATICAN CITY Thu Oct 17, 2013 9:01pm IST

1 of 2. Pope Francis meets Archbishop Robert Zollitsch (R), head of the German bishops' conference, during a private audience at the Vatican October 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Osservatore Romano

Related Topics

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis held crisis talks on Thursday on the fate of Germany's "luxury bishop" who is under intense pressure to resign for spending some 31 million euros ($42 million) on an ultra-luxurious residence.

The pope, who has tried to set an example of austerity by renouncing the spacious papal apartments for a small residence in a Vatican guest house, held talks with Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German bishops' conference.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg in western Germany has stirred anger and calls for his resignation among German Catholics and media over huge cost overruns on his residence at a time when Pope Francis is stressing humility and serving the poor.

"All sides are interested in finding a good and rapid solution so that the situation in the diocese of Limburg can be settled and we can find a way out of this difficult situation," Zollitsch told reporters after his meeting with the pope.

Tebartz-van Elst, who has apologised for any "carelessness or misjudgment on my part" but denies wrongdoing, is in Rome waiting to be called to meet the pope and is believed to have met in Rome with Zollitsch, one of the highest ranking figures in the Roman Catholic Church in Germany.

Zollitsch, speaking to reporters outside a residence near the Vatican, said an audit commission would begin work on Friday to investigate what has become a major embarrassment for the Roman Catholic Church in Germany.

The German media has dubbed Tebartz-van Elst "the luxury bishop" after an initial audit of his spending, ordered after a Vatican monitor visited Limburg last month, revealed the project cost at least 31 million euros, six times more than planned.

Tebartz-van Elst, whose baroque style was more in line with the conservative model of Roman Catholicism projected by retired German-born Pope Benedict, has also been accused by German magistrates of lying under oath about a first-class flight to visit poverty programmes in India.

German media, citing official documents, said the residence had been fitted with a free-standing bath that cost 15,000 euros, a conference table that cost 25,000 euros and a private chapel that cost 2.9 million euros. ($1 = 0.7373 euros).

Zollitsch said earlier this week that Tebartz-van Elst should examine his conscience over the crisis he has caused in the German Church and the image problem he has presented for the pope, who has told bishops not to live like "princes".

(Reporting By Philip Pullella and James Mackenzie; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Cinema

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Movie Review

Movie Review

Farah Khan brings back SRK, self-deprecating jokes, six-pack abs and lots of bling.  Full Article 

La Renta's Funeral

La Renta's Funeral

Designer Oscar de la Renta's funeral to be private New York affair.  Full Article 

Stratospheric Career

Stratospheric Career

Matthew McConaughey enjoying his 'Interstellar' career heights.  Full Article 

Horror Role

Horror Role

From 'Bates Motel' to 'Ouija,' Olivia Cooke finds breakout in horror.  Full Article 

Debut Tweet

Debut Tweet

Britain's Queen Elizabeth sends her first tweet.  Full Article 

Job Hunting

Job Hunting

Rebekah Brooks in New York 'explores' job opportunities.  Full Article 

"John Wick"

"John Wick"

Actor Keanu Reeves returns to the dark side in 'John Wick'.  Full Article 

For A Cause

For A Cause

Elton John joins with U.S. agencies on new AIDS programme.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage