Cost explosion in limburg: “bishop should resign”

cost explosion in limburg: 'bishop should resign'

The theologian thomas schuller of the university of munster and the spokesman of the "hofheimer circle" of 20 critical pastors, ludwig reichert, demand his resignation. The priests’ council of the diocese sees trust destroyed.

The construction costs for the new bishop’s residence add up to around 31 million euros, according to an internal cost calculation by the administration. This had communicated the press office of the bishopric on monday evening – and at first against the will of the bishop, how it hieb at the property and administrative board.

The bishopric itself had rejected reports just a few weeks ago that the construction costs could be as high as 20 million euros. There had recently been talk of more than 10 million euros, but the original estimate was only about 2.5 million euros. Critics accuse the bishop of bartering.

"We have been misled," said a spokesman for the assets and administration council, which is responsible for controlling the finances of the bishop’s chair in limburg. This amount of costs was completely unknown. In 2012 and 2013, the required budget had not been submitted.

The bishopric explained that "monument preservation and technical considerations" had caused the costs for the old vicarage to skyrocket. Bishop tebartz-van elst has his office in the 500-year-old half-timbered house, which has been completely renovated.

According to the state office for the preservation of historical monuments, however, the high costs are not due to government requirements. Churches did not have to get permission to rebuild or renovate their monuments according to the law, the authorities declared. For the renovation of the old vicarage, there had only been an exchange of information, no requirements.

Tebartz-van elst must take responsibility for the cost increase, professor schuller told radio station hr-info. "This is a gross scandal, not only in the bishopric of limburg. This affects the entire church in germany. This is a scandal and it must have consequences."Reichert of the "hofheimer circle" told the same station: "i think that the credibility is severely shattered."If the bishop’s own administrative council feels it has been misled, he can no longer exercise his office responsibly.

The spokesman of the priests’ council of the diocese, pastor reinhold kalteier, sees the vatican in the duty: "the task now lies in rome and with the german bishops to deal with it."However, he could not imagine how the bishop could restore confidence.

"Such high costs for the living and working space of a single person cannot be communicated to the believers", said frankfurt pastor werner otto, also a member of the "hofheimer circle". Even more frightening, however, was the fact that the bishop had apparently swapped the bishop’s chair and the bishop’s board of directors. "If this is true and he has not presented the budgets, then his office is extremely damaged."Tebartz-van elst will now have some explaining to do.

This cancelled on tuesday but only once an open appointment in wiesbaden. He is counting on the review by the german bishops’ conference: "we are waiting to see what the review report reveals," said diocese spokesman martin wind. Because of the continuing criticism of the expensive building, a commission of the bishops’ conference is to examine the financing. The commission will begin its work shortly, said the spokesman for the bishops’ conference, matthias kopp. Wind also pointed out that the bishop is the spiritual leader of the diocese. Others are responsible for administrative matters.

Tebartz-van elst has long been criticized within his own ranks for his leadership, accused of authoritarianism and waste. The situation in his diocese was also considered problematic by the vatican. Pope francis, who stands for modesty and devotion to the poor, had therefore sent an envoy to limburg in september.

The public prosecutor’s office in hamburg is also investigating tebartz-van elst. This concerns the accusation of false statements in connection with an expensive flight to india. Whether charges will be brought, was still unclear on tuesday.

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