The Roman diocese in Limburg Germany now has a recently renovated diocesan center which includes a bishop’s residence that secretly cost twice what it was publicly stated to cost. The renovation cost about $11 million. Renovations to the bishop’s residence, the diocesan center and the diocesan seminary in total cost about $34 million. (Previous reports state that the renovations were approximately $42 million.) That’s 6 times the original reported estimate for the project. Close to $4 million was due to cost over runs, last minute changes and studies & plans that the bishop requested, but were never used. A private chapel attached to the bishop’s residence cost a little under $3 million.
The diocese exploded when these figures were released by aids to the bishop in AUG 2013. Pope Francis was finally forced to step in by sending the bishop on a leave of absence, said to be a retreat in Bavaria, During the retreat the auxiliary bishop began an investigation of the actual costs and the extent of the losses to the diocese. Many quietly expected that the bishop wouldn’t be returning at the end of his time away. He was later assigned a low level post in the Vatican Curia. However, he still lives a bit large, his monthly salary from his Vatican post is $3,300. Add to that his current retirement pension of $7,700 per month from the diocese in Limburg as bishop emeritus.
Now the diocese is seeking how to recoup some of the losses by adjustments to the bishop’s retirement, in leu of his Vatican salary. The retirement agreement made allowances for future adjustments should the bishop receive other income. This is now a delicate matter that diocesan leaders are attempting to bring up with folks in the Curia.
German dioceses are some of the wealthiest in the Roman Catholic Church. They have income from revenue sources, donations and a German taxes on parishioners. Many of the dioceses in the former West Germany have huge sums tucked away. And one source of unreported funding completely at the disposal of the German bishops are giant nest eggs called the bishop’s chair. This is the fund the bishop in Limburg used for the costly renovations.
Photo from the National Catholic Reporter.