'Bling bishop' ordered to leave German diocese

Thursday 24 October 2013 10.08
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Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has become known as the 'luxury bishop'
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has become known as the 'luxury bishop'
Aerial view of the bishop's residence in Limburg
Aerial view of the bishop's residence in Limburg
The residence has cost around €31m
The residence has cost around €31m
People look into a garden of  residence in Limburg, which includes the bishop's apartment and a chapel
People look into a garden of residence in Limburg, which includes the bishop's apartment and a chapel
Bishop Tebartz-van Elst met the pope to discuss the scandal
Bishop Tebartz-van Elst met the pope to discuss the scandal
Renovation costs exploded from an initial €5m to over €30m
Renovation costs exploded from an initial €5m to over €30m

Pope Francis has ordered the German Roman Catholic prelate known as the "bishop of bling" for spending around €31m on a residence to leave his diocese for an unspecified period.

The move, just short of a resignation, was taken against Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg.

It comes two days after he met the pope to discuss the scandal in the German church at a time when the pontiff is stressing the importance of humility and serving the poor.  

The renovation costs went from an initial €5m to over €30m, with an additional €10m also likely due because of damage to surrounding streets and structures caused by the construction work. 

A Vatican statement said the bishop "was currently not in a position to carry out his episcopal ministry" and that he was ordered to leave the diocese while an investigation and audit into cost over-runs is held.
              
The diocese will be administered in the bishop's absence by a vicar.
              
The pope has called for a more austere church and has told bishops not to live "like princes".
              
German media, citing official documents, said the residence had been fitted with a free-standing bath that cost €15,000, a conference table that cost €25,000 and a private chapel that cost €2.9m.