Guarda le foto1 di 4 (ANSA) - Vatican City, October 23 - Pope Francis will permit a German bishop, accused of being a spendthrift, to keep his job but will send him away from his diocese while his actions are investigated, the Vatican announced Wednesday.
The bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, has been accused of spending 31 million euros on extensive renovations to the complex of the bishop's residence, triggering the ire of many inside his diocese.
In a statement, the press office of the Holy See said the vicar general of the diocese will take the bishop's place in managing affairs there.
"The Holy Father has been continually informed in detail and objectively on the situation regarding the diocese of Limburg," the Holy See statement said.
"In the diocese, a situation has arisen in which Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst cannot, at the present moment, continue to exercise his episcopal ministry," it said, adding that the German Bishops' Conference has established a commission to investigate the case.
"Pending the results of this examination and of an analysis of responsibility for the matter, the Holy See considers it appropriate to authorize for Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst a period of stay outside the diocese".
Wolfgang Roesch, who had been appointed as vicar general effective January 1, 2014, will instead take up his duties immediately to "administer the diocese of Limburg during the absence of the diocesan bishop, within the sphere of competence associated with this office".
Besides the spending allegations, Tebartz-van Elst is in hot water concerning a lawsuit against German newsmagazine Der Spiegel over an earlier article about his spending and has also been accused of lying in a separate matter.
Earlier this month a prosecutor in Frankfurt, which falls within the diocese of Limburg, requested the bishop's indictment for making false statements over an airline claim.
The bishop, who is accused of spending as much as 15,000 euro to renovate a bathroom during the restoration of his home, has said the project involves as many as 10 buildings, some of historic significance, inside the complex.
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the president of the German Bishops' Conference, had written to the pope about the matter earlier this month.
Later, Tebartz-van Elst flew to Rome for a meeting with Vatican officials and on Monday, sat down with the pope to discuss the case.
That was likely uncomfortable as the suggestions of overspending by the bishop clash dramatically with Francis's simple and frugal lifestyle.
The pope continues to live at Saint Martha's House, the Vatican guesthouse with priests from around the world, eating a communal breakfast.
He has said he would feel "lonely" in the lavish papal apartments used by his predecessor.