News / Europe

German 'Luxury Bishop' Settles With Court Over First-class Flight

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst presides over a church service in the diocese of Limburg, Sept. 9, 2013.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst presides over a church service in the diocese of Limburg, Sept. 9, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
— A German court has dropped for the time being an investigation into a Roman Catholic prelate - known as the “luxury bishop” - over accusations that he lied under oath about taking a first-class flight to visit poverty projects in India.

State prosecutors had sought to have Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg fined for making false affidavits about the flight, but the court accepted a 20,000-euro settlement.

The bishop also has been under scrutiny over separate revelations that he let costs for his new residence in Limburg run to 31 million euros, over six times the original estimate, triggering calls for his resignation.

Last month Pope Francis ordered him to leave his diocese while an investigation and audit into high costs were conducted.

In the case of the flight, prosecutors were investigating whether Tebartz-van Elst had lied under oath when he denied a report in Der Spiegel news magazine that he flew first-class to India to visit poverty projects.

Tebartz-van Elst, 53, said he flew business class. But Der Spiegel made public a mobile phone video recording of a conversation that triggered action by prosecutors in Hamburg.

“The criminal proceedings against the Bishop of Limburg have been suspended provisionally in exchange for 20,000 euros,” the Hamburg court said in a statement.

The decision had the consent of the state prosecutors, it said.

The Vatican sent an envoy in September to investigate protests in the diocese. Pope Francis then banished Tebartz-van Elst from his diocese on October 23 for spending so much of Church funds at a time when the pontiff is stressing austerity. He stopped short of dismissing him outright, though Tebartz-van Elst was ordered to leave his diocese. The issue is an embarrassment for the pope, who has called for a more austere Church that sides with the poor.

Tebartz-van Elst, dubbed “the luxury bishop” by German media, has apologized for any “carelessness or misjudgment on my part,” but denied wrongdoing.

The scandal also put pressure on bishops for more financial transparency in the entire Church in Germany, forcing them to scrap centuries of secrecy over the reporting the value of their private endowments.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid