Pope meets with controversial bishop

'Gold-plated' Limburg cleric reassigned after spending scandal

(ANSA) - Vatican City, March 28 - Pope Francis met briefly Friday with German Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst from the Limburg diocese, whose resignation was accepted earlier in the week as a result of a spending scandal. The pope met for about 10 minutes with Tebartz-van Elst, who is to be assigned to a new post as a result of an investigation into his spending. Dubbed the 'gold-plated bishop' for allegedly spending 31 million euros to remodel his residence next to the cathedral, Tebartz-van Elst was suspended by the Vatican last October, when he tendered his resignation. According to some reports, the so-called 'bishop of bling' outfitted his residence with a $20,000 bathtub, $500,000 built-in closets and a $35,000 conference table. Tebartz-van Elst is also in hot water concerning a lawsuit against German newsmagazine Der Spiegel over an earlier article about his spending and has also been accused of lying in a separate matter.
    Last September, a prosecutor in Frankfurt, which falls within the diocese of Limburg, requested the bishop's indictment for making false statements over an airline claim.
    The allegations of overspending have clashed dramatically with Pope Francis's simple and frugal lifestyle.
    The pope continues to live at Saint Martha's House, the Vatican guesthouse with priests from around the world, eating a communal breakfast.
    He has said he would feel "lonely" in the lavish papal apartments used by his predecessors.