Pope Francis is once again proving his awesomeness by suspending Germany’s ‘Bishop of Bling’ for ridiculous spending on his private residence. It’s another bold move for the Pope, and it once again has everyone talking.
The Bishop in question, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, has been temporarily removed of his duties pending the outcome of an investigation by a special commission created by Germany’s Bishops Conference. The charges? Overspending. More to the point, the bishop is accused of spending the ungodly sum of $42 million for renovations to his private residence. He is also facing charges that he made false statements under oath during a legal case he has going against a magazine.
Last week Pope Francis removed Bishop Tebartz-van Elst from his blinged out home in Limburg to stay in a more paltry residence at the Vatican while the investigation takes place. It was not immediately certain whether or not the bishop would remain in Rome while awaiting the outcome of the investigation.
‘The Bishop of Bling,’ as he has been dubbed, was ordained by the Catholic Church in 1985. After studying in France and at the University of Notre Dame in the late 80’s, the bishop was installed by Pope Benedict XVI in January of 2008. At the time he was Germany’s youngest bishop.
And not a popular one, at that. Back in 2012 Bishop Tebartz-van Elst suffered with dissention from his congregation over a protest in his leadership abilities. Several thousands of Germans signed a petition against the bishop at the time. And with the latest round of scandal at the hands of the bishop, his followers are now calling for his removal.
Last month, after a representative from the Vatican came to Limburg to perform a mandatory audit on Tebartz-van Elst’s spending. The monitor was appalled to learn that the renovations to the bishop’s residence had cost nearly 31 million euros, roughly six times more than was budgeted. Tebartz-Van Elst apologized profusely for any carelessness or what he referred to as misjudgement on his part, but is denying any wrongdoing.
Among some of the more decadent renovation items that have been cited in the German media are a free-standing bath costing 15,000 euros, a 25,000 euro conference table, and a private chapel for the bishop’s personal use at the cost of 2.9 million euros.
The fate of Bishop Tebartz-van Elst lies in Pope Francis’ hands. As of right now he is in a temporary limbo, somewhere between a temporary suspension and a full dismissal. This leaves time for the leaders from the Vatican and the German church to review the situation in its entirety. Head of the German bishops’ conference, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, is hoping that a decision would allow a return to inner serenity and renew basis for dialogue.
Pope Francis’ suspension of the ‘Bishop of Bling’ has proven that once again we aren’t dealing with a standard, Vatican issued Pope. He is a gentle man of God, a man who sides more with the poor and destitute. This latest development is nothing short of an embarrassment for him. His direct orders to his bishops to not live like princes has clearly fallen on deaf ears.
By: Mary Kay Love