'Bling bishop' takes refuge in abbey
A controversial bishop has found sanctuary in a Bavarian monastery after being suspended indefinitely by Pope Francis last week.
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, dubbed “the bling bishop” for spending €31 million on a new headquarters in western Germany, has been in the Benedictine abbey in Metten in southeast Bavaria since Wednesday.
The diocese said on Thursday that the Bishop of Limburg had "taken part in the community and life of the monastery” and was spending "spiritual days" there.
"The Benedictines are glad to see the Bishop spending a spiritual period of relaxation in Metten," said a diocese spokesman in a statement. "We ask for the understanding that no more explanations will be given, and that you respect the monastery as a special place of peace."
Tebartz-van Elst has reportedly often spent time at the monastery since he started teaching pastoral theology and liturgical science at the nearby University of Passau in 2002.
Pope Francis ordered Tebartz-van Elst to take a leave of absence last week after the bishop attracted a storm of controversy over the extravagant renovations on his Limburg diocesan headquarters, as well as allegations of dictatorial leadership.
The council of German bishops has commissioned an investigation into the building costs of the headquarters, which currently stand at €31 million.
Tebartz-van Elst's duties as Bishop of Limburg were temporarily taken over this week by vicar general Wolfgang Rösch, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported.
It is not yet clear how long the beleaguered bishop will remain in Metten.