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Turn it into a homeless center! Bishop of Bling's residence may be converted

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Germans are speculating on what will become of the Bishop of Bling's residence, now that he has been suspended. Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst was suspended by Pope Francis last week possibly over German outrage regarding his lavish residence and lifestyle.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Germans are speculating that the bishop's residence in Limburg could become a soup kitchen or a homeless center, following the suspension of Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst.

Bishop Tebartz-van Elst was suspended last week after the German media expressed outrage over his new residence, which cost around $40 million to construct. The Bishop maintained the money was actually spent on 10 different projects, not just his home. Included in that expense were public facilities. Still, an official investigation suggests he has not been forthright with his answers over the spending.

A recent investigation suggests he spent $20,000 on a bathtub and $450,000 on walk-in closets. However, these expenditures took place amid a pledge for fiscal austerity in the Church. In 2002, salaries  Church employees was cut along with spending cuts in other areas. Despite the austerity, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst managed to construct his facility.

It should be noted that the Vatican has not given the official reason for his suspension.

The German people were especially upset because they pay an official church tax which is collected by the state and given to the clergy. This sets Germany apart from other nations where the clergy are entirely reliant on donations from the faithful. The Garman people would rather see their tax money go towards more humanitarian causes.

The substantial public ire gained the attention of Pope Francis who is known for his frugal and humble lifestyle. He has already admonished the clergy for living lavish lives and called upon them to be poor and to serve the poor, in the tradition of Christ and Saint Francis.

The Independent quoted a spokesman for the Caritas Organization, a homeless advocacy organization in Germany, "The residence is like an inherited sin which the bishop has left in his wake. People who seek sanctuary with us could be given food in the residence."

According to the Independent, a former bishop of Limburg set a better example when he allowed a family from Eretria to live with him in the former residence.

For now, it is unclear what will happen to Bishop Tebartz-van Elst and if he will return to official duty. In the meantime, the vicar general of the diocese, Wolfgang Roesch, is managing the affairs of the diocese.

Whatever happens, the lavish residence is unlikely to be used as an exclusive home for the bishop or his successors. It is more likely the facility will be renovated into something that is more suited to public use. Whether that will be a soup kitchen, or a homeless center, or something else entirely, remains to be seen.

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