Action Alert!
Catholic World News

Free-spending German bishop removed from diocesan leadership

March 26, 2014

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who last October was suspended as head of the Diocese of Limburg, Germany, because of complaints about lavish spending, has been permanently removed from that post.

The Vatican announced on March 26 that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation that Bishop Tebartz-van Elst offered last October. Bishop Manfred Grothe, an auxiliary of the Paderbon archdiocese, was named apostolic administrator of Limburg, to lead the diocese until a new bishop is appointed.

Last year, intense criticism of Bishop Tebartz-van Elst, focused on the expenditure of more than $40 million for a new episcopal residence and diocesan headquarters complex, had prompted the Vatican to launch an investigation. The results of that inquiry, the Vatican announced, prompted the Congregation for Bishops to conclude that the situation in Limburg “prevents a fruitful exercise of the ministry of Bishop Franz-Peter Terbartz-van Elst.”

Pope Francis asked the faithful of Limburg to accept the Vatican move and work to restore unity in the diocese, which has also been torn by tensions between liberal and conservative Catholics. Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the president of the German bishops’ conference, agreed that “we will need reconciliation, new trust, and the power of prayer” to restore the diocese.

The Vatican announcement indicated that Bishop Tebartz-van Elst, who is 54 years old, “in due course will receive another assignment.” He had served in the Limburg diocese since 2007.


Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Mar. 26, 2014 2:50 PM ET USA

    The Crisis article mentioned by dfp here is worth a read; it may indeed be the "story behind the story." Even if it's not, though, this removal begs an important question, viz. Why, if the pope can remove a bishop for spending, is he powerless to remove bishops who covered up criminal actions for decades? That is what we were told again and again when we protested the continuance of bishops deeply involved in protecting homosexual predators! There is scandal, all right, but not just in Limburg!

  • Posted by: dfp3234574 - Mar. 26, 2014 11:14 AM ET USA

    Was the German bishop really as "free-spending" as the media has made him out to be? In truth, there is another side to this story that hasn't been told :::