VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis met Friday (March 28) in a closed-door meeting with the German churchman known as “Bishop Bling,” Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, whose extravagant and expensive lifestyle cost him his job.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany, leaves a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican in this Oct. 19, 2012. Photo by Alessia Giuliani, courtesy CNS

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany, leaves a meeting of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization at the Vatican on Oct. 19, 2012. Photo by Alessia Giuliani, courtesy of CNS


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Tebartz-van Elst, 54, spent more than $40 million of church money renovating his home in Limburg, Germany. He became a worldwide phenomenon, in part because his lifestyle clashed so sharply with that of Francis, known for living in spartan and humble surroundings and for preaching restraint and austerity.

Vatican sources confirmed Tebartz-van Elst met with the pontiff at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. But there was no information about what the two men discussed or what conclusions were drawn.

Among the expenses from the refurbishment of the residence: $300,000 for an ornamental fish tank, $2.4 million on bronze window frames, and $240,000 on a spiral staircase. Tebartz-van Elst blamed the expense on a deputy who failed to keep track of cost overruns.

“As I am not an authority in the area of church management, as my qualification is in pastoral theory, I have to relinquish responsibility to (Vicar General Franz) Kaspar, who was the only person with an overarching view of the seat’s assets,” he said, according to The Washington Post.

Francis accepted Tebartz-van Elst’s resignation on Wednesday, saying the situation “impedes a fruitful exercise of the episcopal office.” The Vatican said the bishop would be reassigned at some future date.

It is not clear what he will do until then, or what will happen to his palatial former residence.

KRE/AMB END LYMAN

9 Comments

  1. “Bling” to be reassigned! So he can continue to use religion and the church for his regal aspirations–and then blame it all on others. If he’s “not an authority in the area of church management,” which should be pastoral as Francis has often proclaimed, then he should not be a bishop, not exercise the role of bishop anywhere.

    Put “Bling” out to pasture because he is in need of much shepherding himself, by a shepherd “who smells like the sheep,” not a regal personage who considers the office of bishop a position “to strut about in church finery like a peacock!” Even peacocks don’t live in multi-million dollar barns!

    When will the church–all the People of God–wake up. The only solution is for the people in the pews to have a say in the clergy who are supposed to serve them in their parishes and their dioceses. All the Reformation churches do that, and it has proved very effective for centuries. Very pastoral. Very aromatic of sheep and shepherd all smelling alike!

    • Sergio Fontoura

      I’m catholic, but I think he’d better jump in the sea with a stone tied to neck. Or at least be sent to Africa to work with people in starvation. If I lived in German, I will be the first to throw tomatoes in his $2.4 million bronze window frames.

  2. By “pastoral theory,” “Bling” obviously means reigning at the top, above vicars who know very well what life style he wants and are sure to arrange it for him. “Bling” is not only selfishly greedy, he is a liar.

    • Well said! Typical of what we hear from those clergy called to account the world over. ‘Pastoral THEORY’ indeed! Get out there and do it! Hevis the sad indictment of what the church actually is – a lying bunch of nen in dresses who think they are above the law – and God’s law at that. I did not believe this news of a so-called Bling Bishop, until I saw the photos online. After being a Catholic for 50-odd years, no more. I don’t need his kind of tawdry, untouchable irreligious men telling me to repent, to give generously (please!), or the thousands of clergy who use the Vatican-protected office that condones the raping and destruction of innocent children’s futures; those who survive, that is.

  3. Rev 18:7-8 reads: To the extent that she (Babylon the Great) glorified herself and lived in shameless luxury, to that extent give her torment and mourning. For she keeps saying in her heart: ‘I sit as queen, and I am not a widow, and I will never see mourning.’  That is why in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.

    IDENTIFYING BABYLON THE GREAT
    How do we know that the symbolic woman named Babylon the Great, described in the Bible book of Revelation, pictures all false religion? Consider the evidence:
    ● She could not be a literal woman because the imagery in Revelation is in the form of “signs,” or symbols.—Revelation 1:1.
    ● Babylon the Great sits on waters, which represent “peoples and crowds and nations.” (Revelation 17:1, 5, 15) A literal woman cannot do that. False religion, however, gets its support from its huge membership.
    ● This symbolic woman is a “great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” In other words, she is organized and has international influence.—Revelation 17:18.
    ● A spiritual harlot, Babylon the Great forms alliances with “the kings of the earth.” Moreover, these mourn her destruction. (Revelation 17:1, 2; 18:9) So she cannot be a political entity.
    ● The commercial leaders also mourn her destruction. (Revelation 18:15) Hence, she cannot be a secular commercial power.
    ● The Bible describes the blending of the worship of God with a love for the world as spiritual adultery. (James 4:4) Babylon the Great fits that profile. Also, she promotes spiritism, a religious practice.—Revelation 18:23.
    ● The ancient city of Babylon, after which Babylon the Great is named, was a profoundly religious city.—Isaiah 47:1, 12, 13; Jeremiah 50:1, 2, 38.
    Thus, we can say with confidence that Babylon the Great pictures the combined false religions of the world.

  4. Shouldn’t the Church approach this case and this man with charity and as a brother in Christ? Has the bishop made mistakes? Obviously. Should he reflect upon his errors and seek to amend his ways. Certainly! I think there is room for mercy here and I trust the Church and the Holy Father to be loving in its response to this case. There is a lesson for all of us here and, personally, I will use this episode to reflect upon my own lavish lifestyle and seek to live more simply, trusting in the grace of God.

    • Yes, he has made mistakes: 43 million of them. Disgraceful. Here in Australia, 11 per cent of Catholics go to mass. I think that’s rather a generous figure that should be rejigged, especially since the royal commission, which has only scratched the surface of the horrors. The “secret system” is long entrenched. More power to the brave priests, even braver nuns and other religious who are stadingbup for the abused. The church is on a hiding to nothing.

    • Shame the church has shown such a paucity of mercy, charity and love to the ‘tens and tens of thousands’ of potential cases and witnesses in Australia. That quote is from my case worker (I have two before the royal commission). The response came after I was told my case number was five figures, meaning they have already decided the merits of more than 10,000 cases against clergy. Dumfounded to find that, after talking to some of my 42 cousins, that I am sorely not alone. One cousin has had a priest’s baby. Over it. Catholics need to sort out their priorities, educate themselves on the true extent of the hush-up (across 150 countries!), then work out how the truth sits with their idea of how a religion should be administered. Certainly not like this! Jesuscwept! And I am sure he is weeping more than ever. And so it goes, evil flourishes when good people do nothing.

  5. Too bad the Pope isn’t as quick to call up the bishops who have protected child molesters. The Bp. of Bling is not one of them.
    Also, it would be good if the Pope would speak out about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
    Just because he’s into a no-frills lifestyle, does that mean everyone has to.

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