(No matter how complicated the problems facing the church, how sticky the wicket, or how high up it goes — this simple, pious and utterly devoted man of God seeks always, how best to serve the Lord by manifesting love through service to his flock. Once again, I am in awe of his loving single-mindedness.
When I first read about this German Bishop with the great, long, imperious sounding name and the idiocy of such an individual who lavishes such royal comforts upon himself while so many in the rest of the world – struggle — I thought – “how is this even possible?” I do remember reading that voting members of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church were seeking a Pope with problem-solving abilities – so I would say — they did their job very well. In this day and age, Francis is very close to my idea of a miracle. Jan)
AP FILE PHOTO The foreground of this aerial view shows the residence of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst in Limburg, Germany. A scandal over $41 million in building projects led to the bishop’s removal.
Pope removes German bishop notorious for lavish spending
By Alison Smale THE NEW YORK TIMES (10-24-13)
BERLIN — Pope Francis, who has made humility and modesty his hallmark, sent a swift and clear message to Roman Catholics around the world yesterday that he wants all representatives of the church to do the same. He suspended a German bishop accused of spending millions on lavish renovations to his residence and forced the chief administrator of the bishop’s diocese into early retirement.
The bishop, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, of Limburg, Germany, was reported to have allowed costs for his residence and other church buildings to run to more than $41 million. The project drew ridicule in the German news media for luxuries like a $20,000 bathtub, a $1.1 million landscaped garden and plans for an 800-squarefoot fitness room.
The pope acted just two days after receiving the bishop in Rome, where he was summoned to explain himself.
Tebartz-van Elst’s lifestyle and stern manner had upset German Catholics for months. The pope’s decision to suspend him suggested that Francis will enforce his values across the church hierarchy.
The pope is living in a spartan guesthouse in the Vatican, rather than the opulent apartments his predecessors used.
German church experts said the bishop would probably never return to his post, even though the Vatican presented his suspension as temporary.
(And also from 10-18-13, a little further background. . . Jan)
FRANK AUGSTEIN ASSOCIATED PRESS Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst’s residence, right, is near the cathedral in Limburg, Germany. He is accused of remodeling the residence for $42 million.
Pope Francis discussing fate of ‘luxury bishop’
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis held crisis talks yesterday on the fate of Germany’s “luxury bishop,” who is under intense pressure to resign for spending $42 million on an ultraluxurious residence.
The pope, who has tried to set an example of austerity by renouncing the spacious papal apartments for a small residence in a Vatican guest house, held talks with Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German bishops’ conference.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, in western Germany, has stirred anger and calls for his resignation among German Catholics and media over huge cost overruns on his residence at a time when Pope Francis is stressing humility and serving the poor.
“All sides are interested in finding a good and rapid solution so that the situation in the diocese of Limburg can be settled and we can find a way out of this difficult situation,” Zollitsch said after his meeting with the pope.
Tebartz-van Elst, who has apologized for any “carelessness or misjudgment on my part” but denies wrongdoing, is in Rome waiting to be called to meet the pope and is thought to have met in Rome with Zollitsch.
Zollitsch said an audit commission would begin work today to investigate what has become a major embarrassment for the Roman Catholic Church in Germany.
The German media has dubbed Tebartz-van Elst “the luxury bishop” after an initial audit of his spending, ordered after a Vatican monitor visited Limburg last month, revealed the project cost at least six times more than planned.
German media, citing official documents, said the residence had been fitted with a free-standing bath that cost about $20,000, a conference table that cost about $34,000 and a private chapel that cost nearly $4 million.