A huge number of Catholics are leaving the Church in Germany in protest at the behavior of the Bishop of Limburg who has spent an estimated $40 million on renovations to his palace, the Catholic News website reports today (October 16, 2013).
The thousands leaving -- both locally and nationally -- has alarmed the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Moreover, the crisis caused by the behavior of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has divided the most senior German Catholics.
Besides having spent an estimated $40 million on his residence -- including $20,000 on his bathtub -- Bishop Tebartz has also received two court orders for perjury from a Hamburg court and nine for breach of trust from a court in Limburg.
Under the German system, people leave the Church by signing the appropriate documents. They then no longer pay the automatic church tax, but lose church-linked privileges. Consequently, dioceses can easily monitor numbers, and register sudden trends.