Vatican summons Berlin cardinal
19 November 2002 , BERLIN - The Catholic cardinal of Berlin, Georg Sterzinksy, has been summoned to the Vatican to explain himself after priests complained he was riding roughshod over church staff as he applies drastic spending cuts, a newspaper said Tuesday.
19 November 2002
BERLIN - The Catholic cardinal of Berlin, Georg Sterzinksy, has been summoned to the Vatican to explain himself after priests complained he was riding roughshod over church staff as he applies drastic spending cuts, a newspaper said Tuesday.
In a story to appear in its Wednesday edition, the Tagesspiegel said he had been at church headquarters in Rome since Monday to meet the prefect of the congregation of bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.
Sterzinksy, who earlier admitted to financial laxness, was forced to apply the brakes in his archdiocese this summer, sacking non-essential personnel such as carpenters, typists, journalists and historians, and halving the number of parishes.
The new austerity has set him at odds with priests and employees, though none have offered any better remedy for a capital-city diocese that would be bankrupt already if it were a business concern.
In an unprecedented letter, they wrote to Re, demanding an apostolic visitor, or envoy from Rome, come and investigate, asserting there had been a loss of confidence in Sterzinsky.
The letter was signed by about 10 priests and 10 lay people, led by Rev. Josef Rudolf of Sacred Heart Parish in Zehlendorf district, who said Catholics were angry and no longer trusted Sterzinsky to solve the archdiocese's financial problems on his own.
Giovanni Lajolo, the chief Vatican diplomat or nuncio in Berlin, was quoted telling the Tagesspiegel a week ago: "The Holy See is monitoring the crisis with concern."
The archdiocese is struggling under EUR150 million of debt. Germany's other 26 dioceses have promised financial aid, on condition Sterzinsky puts his house back in order and accepts cost-cutting advice from an outside team of German bishops.
Earlier this year Sterzinsky made a public apology for failing to reduce spending sooner as the crisis mounted.
Subject: German news