Photo via NBC
You may already be familiar with the plight of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the so-called "bling bishop" of Limburg, Germany, who was widely criticized earlier this month for spending as much as $55M in church funds renovating his official residence. It should come as no surprise that a Vatican headed by the ascetic Pope Francis—who made headlines earlier this year when he decided to hang his large white hat not at the opulent Apostolic Palace, but at a Vatican guesthouse—has temporarily suspended the bishop from his post, saying that Tebartz-van Elst "could not follow his duty as a bishop," and encouraging him to spend "some time outside the diocese," as it were.
Of course, it's hard to say how much a home renovation should cost, aside from "not anywhere in the ballpark of $55M," but as is usually the case with these kind of high-profile spending dust-ups, the devil was in the details. The particular fineries that landed Tebartz-van Elst in hot water: a $35K conference table, a private chapel costing $4M, and, most infuriating of all, a bathtub that set the good Catholics of Germany back about $20K. Which, had he stopped and thought for a moment, might have struck him as a little excessive during a time of global financial uncertainty. But hey, at least we all know where to find a Christmas present for a man of his tastes, right?
Anyway, a church commission has been called to investigate the renovation costs of the Limburg residence, but in the mean time, bishops the world over can blame Tebartz-van Elts for why they can't have nice things—maybe leave the fancy, funky architecture to the Mormons, hmmm?
The lavish compound, as viewed from above, with the private chapel in black. Photo via SCMP
· Pope suspends German 'bling bishop' [The Guardian]
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