Vatican suspends ‘bishop of bling’-A Sonko?
The Vatican has suspended a senior German Church leader dubbed the “bishop of bling” by the media over his alleged lavish spending.
The Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, is accused of spending over 31m euros (Â£26m; $42m) on renovating his official residence.
The Vatican said it deemed “appropriate… a period of leave from the diocese” for the bishop.
The suspension comes two days after he met the Pope to discuss the matter.
“A situation has been created in which the bishop can no longer exercise his episcopal duties”, a Vaticanstatement said.
The bishop – and his spending habits – had become infamous in Germany, where many people pay tax to the Catholic Church.
Calls were made for the bishop to resign after he was accused of lying under oath about his spending.
He was criticised for a first-class flight to India to visit the poor.
But his official residence is at the heart of the criticism, after originally being costed at 5.5m euros.
German media are reporting that the residence had been fitted with a bath that cost 15,000 euros, a conference table for 25,000 euros and a private chapel that cost 2.9m euros.
The allegations have stoked controversy among Catholics in Germany, where five centuries ago Martin Luther launched the Reformation in Europe in response to what he said were excesses and abuses within the Church.
The BBC’s Alan Johnston, in Rome, says all this was bound to play badly with the new Pope, who has repeatedly expressed his disapproval of senior clerics whose lifestyles seem a little too lavish.
There is no surprise in Rome that the Vatican has ordered the bishop’s suspension from his duties while the spending row is investigated, our correspondent adds.
Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is the daughter of a Protestant pastor, said that she had expressed “hope that there will be an answer for believers, for people’s confidence in their Church”.
In his absence, the bishop’s diocese will be administered by a vicar.-standardmedia