Pope accepts resignation of high-spending German “bling bishop”


Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of The Most Reverend Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, Bishop of Limburg, Germany. The Bishop had come under heavy criticism over the rising costs of diocesan building projects in 2013.

His Excellency had offered to resign in October 2013, before Pope Francis granted him five months of leave to let the situation cool down while investigation was conducted, says the Vatican. According to the Holy See’s press office, there is “a situation which prohibits a fruitful exercise of the Episcopal office by H.E. Mons. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst”. The Auxiliary Bishop of Paderborn, Manfred Grothe has been appointed Administrator Apostolic for the time being. The Holy See also communicated that the Bishop would be assigned other duties at the appropriate time.

Here is the Vatican announcement: press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/03/26/0211/00470.html
Vatican Radio: en.radiovaticana.va/news/2014/03/26/vatican_press_office_issues_note_on_resignation_of_german_bishop/en1-785033

Good I think he has done the right thing and I believe this is a sign of repentance. He is still a Bishop though so let’s pray for him :slight_smile:

Good for the Pope. I hope he keeps on digging out the squanders. It is about time someone got serious about errant spending in the Church.

Whether there has been “errant spending” is a matter of much debate. A press conference is going on this very minute, during which the official 100-page report to the Vatican was published.

My prayers go out for this Bishop who attempted to do good to only be labeled a squanderer. It was not just a residence but a jewel of good for the community.


It is an absolute shame that this Bishop had to wait to be absolutely humiliated before he was finally compelled to do the right thing, and i am sure the property he bought will not even come close to being sold and the money distributed to those in dire need.

Does anyone know about the intricacies of episcopal assignments, that can tell me whether his term in office ended with his suspension in October, or if it ended today with the acceptance of his resignation? Details, details. Wikipedia wants to know.

He was still formally the Bishop up until today, but his Vicar General managed diocesan affairs in the time the Bishop was allowed to withdraw from the diocese. He was thus the Bishop until 12 noon today.

Living in the diocese of Limburg, I’m highly disappointed with the loss of our bishop. It is really sad that it turned out to be such a tragedy, especially for the many Catholics who kept supporting their bishop in spite of all the accusations…

:confused: All that money could have been used to feed the poor the world over. I highly doubt Jesus would approve of such lavish spending on nothing. I’m sure those paying the church tax in Germany were just thrilled to hear of his expenditures as well. :rolleyes: Nope, this was a good move yet there’s still housecleaning to be done in Germany and elsewhere.

Well, let me give you some details.

The total spending was c. $42 Million (€31.5 M) and the Diocese could afford it with no problems. The project was initiated by the Bishop’s predecessor as much as four years in advance, though subsequent amendments were made, many of which came from the person of Bishop Tebartz-van Elst himself and caused increase in costs.

Indeed, you are right that this has been used to attack Church tax, but it has not caught on. After all, only a small fraction of the costs was paid by Church tax. The rest came from the dioceses coffers, investments and reserves.

It should be noted that the reason the Bishop’s resignation was accepted is that the situation in the diocese does not permit his return. His flock, both clergy and laity, are viciously opposed to and disappointed by him. Forcing a Bishop they strongly oppose on them would get nowhere, neither the flock, nor the Bishop. Thus, it was a prudent decision to take.

The problem was not the amount of money spent. Other German dioceses, such as Mainz, Trier and Munich, have recently had very expensive projects like this and drew no scandal. The reason was that the costs were transparent from the very beginning, unlike Limburg which was deliberately played-down and lied about. It has been established that Bishop, Vicar General and other people involved knew the true cost, but lied about it.

They did this, because they thought such costs could not be justified in public and therefore wanted to keep it quiet. To be honest, I think it’s tragic. Wanting and having to build a oboe project initiated by the predecessor, but at the same time knowing that the costs would cause a huge fuss. The project itself is a very commendable thing, and generations to come will thank the Bishop for it.

A beautiful house of worship enriches generations of the poorest with the kind of hope that offers a chance at lifting them out of the poverty of despair.

Money thrown at the poor as the scolds suggest only increases their number and has created a permanent underclass. Such monies turn bread into stones weighting the poor down so they can never escape their poverty.

True hope lies in Jesus Christ. We go to meet Jesus, rich and poor alike, in a particular way in the house of worship. Money should be spent on the Church first and only then to the poor, because funding the Church is the best use of it for the poor.

If the courts found justly against the man, he perjured himself multiple times, and has a history of trying to hide his own taste for luxury. I do not understand how anyone on this website can defend him, unless they are outright denying that he committed perjury.

Surely a person’s desire to lie about his own expenses is an indication of a guilty conscience. Let us pray for God’s mercy.

And let’s pray that our tithes be used fundamentally for evangelism, which was clearly not the central focus of this project.

What a false dilemma! As if any money not spent on the poor should be spent mostly on buildings!

What about spending money on retreats, on advertising, on evangelists, on religious orders, on vocations, on youth events, and so on? The Church is not mostly about inspiring people, nor about feeding them. It is about saving their souls.

Indeed, the Bishop has accepted the charge of perjury and paid a hefty fine of 20.000€.

I do defend him against certain charges, though. The way he was treated in the media is still not appropriate. He was insulted and persecuted in the most vile manner, trodden to the ground and humiliated. No one deserves that.

The way he handled the building project, however, is indeed scandalous, and I do not defend his behaviour in that regard. The complex itself is something I do defend, though.

There is plenty of errant spending in the Church. Anyone doubting that has their eyes closed.

I didn’t say there wasn’t. That referred to this specific case.

Yes, I feel for any bishop or priest who is pilloried by the news media. The assaults are endless, and from so many sources. The very phrase “Bling Bishop” passed judgment on him as someone who deserved to be mocked. The bishop had little ability to defend himself. just as someone in a pillory has little way to defend himself from the crowd.

As someone has mentioned, Mons.Tebartz-van Elst needs our prayers. As someone else mentioned, he deserves our prayers too, as someone who tried to serve the people of his diocese and paid a real price for doing so.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, is modeling what it means to be a priest and bishop. Most likely, there are certain matters in which he participates that he would rather change. Yet, either because of perceptions, or his recognition there is property that is not his, or he hasn’t tackled them yet, he has made no decision to change. In other ways, as we have seen, he has made public changes. We don’t know what else may be going on. The true edifice that we all ought to be concerned about building is a “foundation” in Christ Jesus, Son of God, Salvation of the world!

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.