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September 24, 2017

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Pope accepts resignation of Germany's 'bishop of bling'

VATICAN CITY--Pope Francis has formally accepted the resignation of Germany's controversial bishop of Limburg, who had come under fire for his luxury lifestyle.

Franz-Peter Terbartz-van Elst, nicknamed the "bishop of bling" by the international media, had been indefinitely relieved of his clerical duties by Francis last year after details emerged of his high-roller lifestyle.

The Roman Catholic bishop had faced outrage over an ostentatious building project at his official residence, which included a museum, conference halls, a chapel and private apartments, in the ancient town of Limburg in central Hesse state.

The project was initially valued at 5.5 million euros (US$7.5 million) but the cost ballooned to 31 million euros, including a 783,000-euro garden and a 15,000-euro bathtub — using the revenue from a religious tax in Germany.

Tebartz-van Elst, 53, had also come under fire for lying under oath about flying first class to visit slum dwellers in India.

He had told a journalist with the Hamburg-based news weekly Der Spiegel that "we flew business class," but then in sworn testimony denied having said those words.

However, the reporter had videotaped him making the comment, and the embattled bishop settled the court case with a 20,000-euro payment in November.

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