German bishop says 'forces at work' against Bishop Tebartz

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg Germany in Rome Septermber 11 2013 Credit Estefania Aguirre CNA 2 CNA 9 11 13 Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, Germany in Rome Sept. 11, 2013. | Estefania Aguirre/CNA.

A German bishop has voiced his support of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, who made headlines recently for being accused of leading a luxurious lifestyle.

"There are forces at work that I cannot see, so everything is a bit puzzling for me," Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer said on Sept. 11 during a conference for new bishops in Rome.

"I know him personally and I consider him a modest man," the Bishop of Regensburg, Germany, told CNA at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum Institute.

Bishop Voderholzer said the flurry of media reports that the Bishop of Limburg had built a luxurious new home amounts to nothing more than a "big circus."

German news magazine Der Spiegel wrote in June 2013 that the design of the structure resembled "a monstrous luxury complex" and was built "according to the wishes of Franz-Peter Tebartz van Els."

However, it was his predecessor that ordered the home to be built, not Bishop Tebartz-van Elst.

"It is a very complicated story and I have heard that the house has been opened now and everyone that sees the house asks themselves why a big circus and theater has been made out of this," Bishop Voderholzer said.

"There seems to be other reasons that I cannot see quite clearly," he added. "He has my full support and he has my full solidarity."

A second accusation against Bishop Tebartz-van Elst involves him flying first class when returning from a trip to India. But the diocese had paid for the bishop to fly business class and due to miles accumulated by his Vicar General, he was upgraded to first class.

It is believed the fairly-young bishop is cleaning house after former leader Bishop Franz Kamphaus caused controversies with Rome.

The former bishop of Limburg continued to allow for years church centers to provide counseling to women wanting to have an abortion, despite a papal order for the practice to cease.

Abortion is technically illegal in Germany, but women face no penalties if they have previously received a counseling certificate from a state approved center.

Bishop Tebartz has been among the names considered as a possible candidate to succeed the current Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner. However, critics say the recent media attacks could now hinder his possibilities to succeed the cardinal.

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