The Holy See today announced that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, following an investigation into the construction of a new residence.
The German bishop was heavily criticized when it was revealed that an estimated €31 million ($42 million) was spent on the construction of a new residence and offices. Much of the spending had been authorised by his predecessor.
The German prelate was later placed on administrative leave pending the investigation carried out by the Congregation of Bishops.
“Awaiting the diocese of Limburg to ascertain a situation that impedes the fruitful exercise of his ministry on the part of Msgr. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the Holy See has accepted the resignation presented by the prelate on 20 October 2013,” a communique from the Holy See stated.
The Holy See has named Bishop Manfred Grothe, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Paderborn, as Apostolic Administrator of the diocese. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst will receive another assignment “at an opportune time,” the Vatican said.
Knowing that the scandal has caused much divisions within the diocese, the communique stated that Pope Francis has asked the faithful “to accept the decision of the Holy See with docility and to commit to regain a climate of charity and reconciliation.” (J.A.E.)