14/10/13 18:42 CET
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The Catholic Church and German prosecutors are investigating a bishop over allegations of wildly extravagant spending and lying under oath.
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst is said to have flown first-class to India to visit the poor.
Summoned to Rome where he reportedly flew with Ryanair, he met senior Vatican officials who are set to decide whether he can stay in office.
While the new pope stresses humility and helping the poor, the bishop reportedly spent 31 million euros on a luxury home and office.
The head of the Church in Germany said a commission would investigate starting this week.
“They’re experts in canon law, finance and construction. They must find out what the building costs should have been and how decisions were made,” Archbishop Robert Zollitsch said.
A church audit revealed the bishop’s building project in Limburg near Frankfurt went six times over-budget.
It featured a chapel, a museum, private flats and a 15,000 euro bath.
“It’s catastrophic what the bishop has done. He needs to be deposed for wasting our money like that,” said one local man.
“What the man has done is not good. He needs to be punished for that. You cannot do that with other people’s money, you cannot beg for money all the time and then build a place like that,” added another.
The case has thoroughly embarrassed the Catholic Church in Germany, just as Pope Francis had boosted its popularity.
The bishop has apologised for “any carelessness or misjudgement”.
The German church’s report is due by the end of the year.
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