Pope Francis calls infamous 'Bishop of Bling' to answer for himself
Pope Francis has personal meeting with bishop, presumably over extravagant lifestyle.
A German bishop known for his personal extravagance has been summoned to Rome where he met with Pope Francis presumably to discuss his personal expenditures and lifestyle.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, also known as the bishop of bling, is legendary for his extravagance.
Public outcry over his expenditures brought him to Pope Francis' attention. Pope Francis has called for the Church to be poor, for the poor. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst's habits appear contrary to this call to action.
Tebartz-van Elst was appointed in 2008 by Pope Benedict. As Bishop of Limburg, Tebartz-van Elst authorized €31 million in spending on a new residence and community center. He reportedly dropped €15,000 on his bathtub alone.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst is so famous he's practically followed by paparazzi.
According to a statement released by his diocese, the 20 minute meeting was "an encouraging encounter."
Meanwhile Pope Francis has been clear stating that money is a destructive force that should be used to support humanity, not luxury. It is true that the €31 million spent on the community center and residence could have fed a lot of hungry people.
In Germany, people pay a state tax to churches which helps to find these projects. This is unique from many other countries where churches are funded entirely by donations from the faithful. Since donations are typically sporadic and small, churches in most of the world have little choice but to serve in a state of perpetual austerity.
This is the Bishop's residence. The cathedral is off the picture to the right.
For his part, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst said the money was actually spent on 10 separate building projects. He also told Bild, a national publication, that "People who know me know that I don't need a pompous lifestyle."
Bishops are unchallenged heads of their diocese, holding office until they die. Bishops normally cannot resign or be dismissed. However, the Pope does have the ability to dismiss a bishop. If Bishop Tebartz-van Elst does not make changes that satisfy Pope Francis, it is possible he could find himself in just such a situation. After that, he could be ordered into any station within the Church by the bishop that replaces him.
Right now, there is no apparent move to see the "bishop of bling" replaced, but he has been put on notice, and it is certain that Pope Francis is watching.
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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