October 23, 2013 / 10:47 AM / 4 years ago

Pope banishes Germany's 'luxury bishop' from his diocese

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis has ordered the German Roman Catholic prelate known as the “luxury bishop” for spending some 31 million euros (£26.46 million) on a residence to leave his diocese for an unspecified period, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst's residence and his private chapel (2ndR) are pictured in Limburg October 14, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

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

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 issue has been an embarrassment for the pope, who 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 euros, a conference table that cost 25,000 euros and a private chapel that cost 2.9 million euros.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by James Mackenzie

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