Pope Francis has formally accepted the resignation of suspended Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the Vatican has announced in a statement on Wednesday.
The senior German Church leader has been suspended over his alleged lavish spending.
Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, 53, has been accused of spending more than 31 million euros ($43 million) on renovating his official residence.
The cleric, dubbed the “bishop of bling” by the media, offered to resign when the scandal broke last October.
Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has been accused of spending more than 31 million euros on renovating his official residence
In response, Pope Francis temporarily suspended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst and instructed a Church commission to investigate the matter.
Pope Francis has repeatedly expressed his disapproval of senior clerics whose lifestyles seem too lavish.
On Wednesday, the Vatican said the inquiry found that the senior cleric could no longer exercise his ministry.
The Church called on the diocese of Limburg to accept the decision “with docility” and to work toward restoring a “climate of charity and reconciliation”.
The Vatican did not further elaborate on the future of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, but said he would get a new position “at the opportune time”.
Auxiliary Bishop Manfred Grothe has been appointed to run the Limburg diocese.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst and his luxury lifestyle have become infamous in Germany, where many people pay a Church tax to the state. The tax raised 5.2 billion euros for Catholics and 4.6 billion euros for Protestants in 2012.
At the heart of the criticism was the refurbishment of the cleric’s official residence, originally set to cost 5.5 million euros.
German media reported that the quarters were fitted with a 15,000-euro bath, a conference table for 25,000 euros and a private chapel worth 2.9 million euros.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was also under fire for a first-class flight to India to visit the poor.
Prosecutors in Germany have agreed to drop proceedings against the “bishop of bling”, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, in return for a payment of 20,000 euros ($27,000).
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Limburg was accused of lying under oath over his flights to India.
Claims that Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst spent more than 31 million euros ($42 million) on renovating his official residence caused outrage.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was accused of lying under oath over his flights to India
Pope Francis ordered the bishop to take a leave of absence from his post.
An investigation into Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst’s apparently lavish spending is taking place.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst was facing prosecution in Hamburg over claims he gave false statements in a case against Der Spiegel magazine, which had reported that he took first-class flights to visit slum dwellers.
Church members in Germany pay a compulsory church tax out of their income.
German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has flown – reportedly with a budget airline – to the Vatican in Rome to discuss his lavish spending.
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst – dubbed the “Luxury Bishop” – is facing calls for his resignation after spending 31 million euros ($42 million) on his residence.
He is also accused of lying about the over-spend on the property in Limburg.
In Rome, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst will meet the head of the Catholic Church in Germany, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch. It is not clear if Pope Francis will intervene.
Since taking office in March, Pope Francis has urged the Church to promote a lifestyle of frugality and simplicity.
The allegations have stoked controversy among Catholics in Germany, where Martin Luther launched the Reformation in Europe five centuries ago in response to what he said were excesses and abuses within the Church.
Active German Catholics also pay a tax to the Church as part of their income tax, and many are shocked by the apparent financial waste – prompting some to stage demonstrations outside the bishop’s residence in Limburg, a town in Hesse near Frankfurt-on-Main.
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, dubbed the “Luxury Bishop”, is facing calls for his resignation after spending $42 million on his residence
“The bishop has made it clear that any decision about his service as a bishop lies in the hands of the Holy Father [Pope Francis],” said a statement issued by the diocese on Saturday.
“The bishop is saddened by the escalation of the current discussion. He sees and regrets that many believers are suffering under the current situation,” it said.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, 53, is also accused of twice lying under oath about a flight he took to India on a trip to visit poor children.
He had filed a civil court claim against Der Spiegel magazine, which is based in Hamburg, for reporting that he had flown first-class on the trip.
After being forced to print a retraction, the magazine filed a legal complaint of its own. As evidence, it published mobile phone video (in German) of its interview with Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, in which he clearly stated that he had flown business class.
Asked by the German daily Bild about the high cost of his new residence, the bishop said: “I understand that the high cost of 31 million euros sounds frightening. Those who know me know that I don’t have a pompous lifestyle.”
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch said he had set up a commission to investigate the finances of Limburg diocese.
Robert Zollitsch said he would “speak to the Holy Father and the relevant people” about the issue in Rome.