OXFORD, England (CNS) — A spokesman for the new bishop of Limburg, Germany, said he would not live in the luxurious residence built for his predecessor.
Stephan Schnelle, Limburg diocesan spokesman, said the residence would be used for offices, meetings and exhibitions. The diocese has said Bishop-designate Georg Batzing would live at a convent after his Sept. 18 installation, then move to a nearby church house.
Bishop-designate Batzing replaces Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who resigned in March 2014 after protests over his personal expenditures, such as disputes over the costs of renovating his residence and office when diocesan staffers faced salary cuts. A Vatican audit placed the cost of the renovations at 31 million euros. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst, dubbed “Bishop Bling,” also was fined for perjury and investigated for criminal charges after being accused of misusing church funds. The Diocese of Limburg dropped legal proceedings against him in September 2015.
Schnelle told Catholic News Service Aug. 31 that church leaders were confident about ending the bad publicity surrounding Bishop Tebartz-van Elst’s luxurious lifestyle. He said initial reactions to the appointment of Bishop-designate Batzing suggested local Catholics believed he was bringing the “best prerequisites” to the post.
“He’s someone who wishes, first and foremost, to be a listener and a watcher,” Schnelle said. “Developing pastoral care will clearly be his major concern after our recent troubles, as well as looking at how faith can speak to the future.”