December 12, 2013
Pope Francis to decide on cleric’s fateMonday, October 14, 2013
German ‘luxury bishop’ flies to Rome
BERLIN — A German Catholic bishop under fire for huge cost overruns on a luxury residence and allegedly lying under oath has flown to Rome to meet Vatican officials and possibly Pope Francis to decide if he can stay in office.
A spokesman confirmed yesterday that Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst had departed but would not say when or how long he would be away.
Tebartz-van Elst has caused a crisis in the German Church for building a luxury residence and office complex at a time when the new pope is stressing humility and service to the poor.
“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,” it said.
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 has also been accused of lying under oath about a first-class flight to visit poverty programmes in India.
The pope’s decision will be closely watched as a barometre of how far he will go to promote frugality and simplicity in a Church plagued for decades by scandals of clerical sexual abuse and opaque financial transactions at the Vatican bank.
The Limburg case presents special problems because Tebartz-van Elst, at 53, is too young to simply be retired off as some bishops in abuse scandals have been.
State prosecutors in Hamburg said last week they wanted the bishop to be fined for making false affidavits about the first-class flight to India while denying a report about it by the magazine Der Spiegel.
522 killed in spain’s
1930s turmoil beatified
In related news, the Vatican beatified 522 people yesterday — mostly priests and nuns — who were killed in the turmoil that led to Spain’s civil war.
The beatification, the last step the Roman Catholic Church takes before sainthood, was conducted by Cardinal Angelo Amato in an outdoor ceremony attended by thousands in the northeastern Tarragona region. Among the congregation were almost 4,000 relatives of those being beatified.
In the 1930s, Spain was engulfed in instability that saw the head of state, King Alfonso XIII, abandon the country and anti-clerical mobs attack clergy and burn churches.
The mayhem culminated in the 1936-1939 war, won by forces allied to Nazi Germany and fascist Italy and led by General Franco.
Reuters and AP