German bishop accused of extravagance, perjury

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch

October 21, 2013

The president of the German bishops’ conference said he is following with “great attention and great concern” the case of a bishop accused of making false statements in court and under fire for allegedly spending close to $40 million in renovations and new construction on his residence and diocesan offices.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the bishops’ conference president, told reporters Oct. 14 that the conference has formed a commission to investigate the project in the Diocese of Limburg, and he expected the head of the diocese, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, to do some serious “self-examination.”

“It is not my place to judge the bishop of Limburg, but I am convinced he will undergo the necessary self-examination in the light of this situation,” said Zollitsch.

Tebartz-van Elst has been accused of living extravagantly while cutting diocesan programs.

Questions also have been raised about how the renovation and construction project was funded and whether the bishop followed the requirements of canon law that large expenditures be approved by the diocesan finance council, the Vatican, or both.