'Lavish' bishop flies Ryanair for Pope talks

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Franz-Peter Tebartz van Elst's future will be decided in Rome. Photo: Fredrik von Erichsen/DPA/AFP
10:00 CEST+02:00
A German bishop who is under fire for spending €31 million on his new headquarters, including €15,000 on a bath tub, was summoned to Rome on Sunday – and flew with budget airline Ryanair.

The Bishop of Limburg, Franz-Peter Tebartz van Elst, has splashed out €15,000 on a bath tub, €738,000 on a garden and €25,000 on a conference table at his new residence in west Germany, angering the public and press and attracting the attention of Pope Francis.

The Pope has brought a more modest style of leadership to the Catholic church, but the bishop’s extravagance has brought criticism from all corners that the church being out of touch.

On Sunday he boarded the 6.35am Ryanair flight from Frankfurt-Hahn airport to Rome where his future will be decided, the Bild newspaper reported.

He will have to explain, how he has spent €31 million of church money on his headquarters next to Limburg cathedral when the original estimate was €3 million. According to newspaper the Welt am Sonntag the costs will be even higher, reaching €40 million.

He will meet the head of the Catholic Church in Germany, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, while in Rome.

The financial committee of the diocese claims their members were left in the dark about the spending. Costs on the residence escalated as churches closed.

The chairman of the administrative council in one parish in the bishop’s diocese Benno Hofmann told the Welt am Sonntag the bishop was “living 300 years too late”. “Our bishop has no sense that what he has done is wrong,” he said.

The 53 year-old is also accused of lying under oath and taking first class fights to visit the poor in India last year.

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A statement from the diocese said: "The bishop has made it clear that any decision about his service as a bishop lies in the hands of the Holy Father [Pope Francis].

"The bishop is saddened by the escalation of the current discussion. He sees and regrets that many believers are suffering under the current situation."

READ MORE: Catholic bishop spends €350,000 on wardrobes

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