The costs for the new seat of Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst are significantly higher than previously amed. They are now put at around 31 million euros.
Even the harshest critics of Limburg Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst (53) had not expected this: Around 31 million euros is now to cost the new Diocesan Center with Bishop's House on Limburg Cathedral Hill. This figure was given on Monday evening by the diocese of Limburg with reference to the asset management council of the episcopal chair.
When the construction work began in 2010, it was amed that 5.5 million euros would be needed. When the Diocesan Center was opened at the end of June, after three years of construction, the cost was estimated at 9.85 million euros. One reason cited was stringent Denkmlas protection requirements. But soon this figure was corrected, the diocese amed far more than ten million euros. Now it is 31 million euros. How to explain the cost explosion? Where will the money come from?
All available documents would now be forwarded to the special commission of the German Bishops' Conference requested by Tebartz-van Elst in early September, the diocese said. This had the mandate to "review the various individual projects of the entire construction project in terms of cost and financing". The result would then be presented to the bishop and the public.
If the president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, is followed, November could be it. On the fringes of the autumn plenary meeting of the Bishops' Conference in the last week of September in Fulda, Zollitsch had said that he was in the process of putting together the commission requested by Tebartz-van Elst. It should possibly get an overview already in the next six to eight weeks. Zollitsch stressed that the impression must not be given that something is being put on the back burner. It is a matter of regaining trust, he said.
To finance the diocesan center, the diocese of Limburg had at the time, according to reports, formed a reserve of 2.5 million euros from church tax funds. Further necessary funds should be taken from the assets of the Episcopal See, a public corporation. To oversee this, the bishop set up an asset management council.
According to the diocese, it was precisely the latter who on Monday "established and discussed" an internal administrative cost calculation announced by Tebartz-van Elst for October, from which the sum of around 31 million euros results. The members of the Asset Management Council are: Jochen Riebel (CDU), former Minister for Europe in Hesse, who was recently awarded the Pontifical Order of St. Gregory; Theodor-Michael Lucas, spokesman for the board of the Cologne-based Josefs-Gesellschaft; and Carl-Friedrich Leuschner, a certified public accountant.
In its Tuesday edition, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" (FAZ) quotes a statement ied by the three on Monday: "The costs incurred so far by the Diocesan Center St. The construction of the St. Nicholas Cathedral with the Bishop's Residence, the Old Vicarage, the Sisters' House and the other associated individual projects on the Cathedral Hill in Limburg amount to around 31 million euros to date. We members of the asset management council were not aware of the total cost until the hour. It is forbidden to go into details. In this context, we would like to point out that, in accordance with the statutes of the Episcopal See of Limburg, no budgets have been submitted for the years 2012 and 2013, nor have any corresponding individual projects been approved." And this is also what the members of the asset management board declared, according to the FAZ: "We have been led behind the light by the Bishop of Limburg."
Tebartz-van Elst has not yet commented on the accusations. Late Tuesday afternoon in Wiesbaden, the bishop wanted to present a book on Popes Benedict XVI. and introduce Francis. This appointment was canceled.
Chronology of recent developments in the Limburg diocese
2. February 2007: Limburg Bishop Franz Kamphaus resigns after 25 years in office. He is considered a representative of the more liberal wing of the German bishops.
2007: The cathedral chapter decides to rebuild Limburg Cathedral Hill with the aim of building an apartment and residence there for the future bishop.
20. January 2008: Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, previously auxiliary bishop in the diocese of Munster, is inaugurated as bishop of Limburg.
Pentecost 2008: In pastoral letter, Tebartz-van Elst urges a "willingness to move" beyond previous parish boundaries.
A little later, it launches a process to create "pastoral spaces" in which parishes will be grouped together. It enforces strict observance of liturgical rules in church services. Criticism arises in some places.
August 2008: Tebartz-van Elst relieves Wetzlar pastor Peter Kollas of his duties as district dean after he blessed a homosexual couple. He appoints Franz Josef Kaspar as his provisional successor and at the same time appoints him Vicar General of Limburg.
May 2010: Construction of the "Diocesan Center of Saint Nicholas," which will include the bishop's residence and official residence, will begin on Limburg Cathedral Hill.
2010/2011: Der Spiegel" magazine and other media report on voices in the diocese accusing the bishop of an authoritarian leadership style, "clerical self-absorption" and waste of money.
2012: Publik will be a first class flight of the bishop and his vicar general to India. Bishop denies first class flight to "Spiegel" magazine. When the magazine accuses him of lying, he gives an affidavit denying the denial. The public prosecutor's office starts investigations on suspicion of a false affidavit.
29. June 2013: "Saint Nicholas Diocesan Center" to be inaugurated. Costs put at around 10 million euros, estimated at 5.5 million. Strict requirements of monument protection are cited as reasons for the increase.
Early to mid-August 2013: Frankfurt's city dean Johannes zu Eltz indirectly asks the bishop to let his office rest for a few years. The bishop then reminds him of his duty of loyalty.
25. August: Frankfurt Catholics' town meeting submits open letter. It says the diocesan leadership must immediately take a different path "if it wants to represent the Catholic Church in our diocese and beyond in a credible and trustworthy way".
28. August: Tebartz-van Elst travels to Rome to see head of Vatican Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet. The Limburg episcopal press office later says the bishop "has received great support and solidarity in the current situation".
29. August: Forum of German Catholics launches solidarity campaign for Tebartz-van Elst.
31. August: In a letter to Catholics in his diocese, Tebartz-van Elst asks for trust and indirectly admits mistakes.
He promises clarification on the construction of the diocesan center.
5. September: Around 200 people accept the bishop's invitation to guided tours of the Diocesan Center.
6. September: Tebartz-van Elst takes the from nearly 4.500 Catholics signed critical "Frankfurt Appeal" vs. In parallel, a list of signatures circulated by some 5.000 supporters of the bishop.
7. September: The Vatican intervenes. On behalf of Pope Francis, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo (78) of the Curia is to visit the country to see for himself. Cardinal Ouellet calls this visit a "fraternal visit".
14. September: A joint statement by the bishop and the Limburg Cathedral Chapter announces that a special commission of the German Bishops' Conference is to review the financing of the Diocesan Center and the Episcopal House. Tebartz-van Elst had requested such a special examination, the result of which would subsequently be published.
15. September: At the Diocesan Cross Festival in Konigstein, Tebartz-van Elst asks for forgiveness and forbearance from all the people he has "disappointed and hurt"
16. September: Lajolo expresses cautious optimism after his visit to Limburg. Tebartz-van Elst has taken important steps to overcome current tension, he said.
18. September: The head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, speaks of a "campaign" against Tebartz-van Elst. Rome trusts him "fully and completely".
27. September: After the autumn plenary meeting of the German Bishops' Conference in Fulda, its president, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, ares the Limburg bishop of his "collegial solidarity" and support.
2. October: Tebartz-van Elst accepts the resignation of Vicar General Kaspar (75) and appoints 1. January the Wiesbaden city dean Wolfgang Rosch as successor.
7. October: The construction and renovation costs of the diocesan center turn out to be much higher than previously amed even by critics. They amount to about 31 million euros, according to the diocese after a meeting of the asset management council of the Episcopal See.