The news of the Vatican’s suspension yesterday of Limburg Germany’s Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst because of his lavish spending is rippling around the world. Many have pointed out how his lifestyle clashes with that of Pope Francis, who has urged his clergy to “smell like their sheep.” Bishop Franz-Peter’s actions are an egregious example of the clericalism infecting the Church, with the following story about the Church in Germany as a further example. We’re left to note, as well, that although Bishop Franz-Peter’s suspension was swift, the Vatican has yet to censure any bishop for credible allegations of involvement in covering up clergy sexual abuse.
The $20,000 bathtub and $482,000 walk-in closets ordered by “Bishop Bling-Bling” — the moniker of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the now-suspended bishop of Limburg — have scandalized the German public.
But Tebartz-van Elst, 52, is only the latest German clergyman to run into trouble since Pope Francis took the helm of the Roman Catholic Church. Francis temporarily suspended the bishop on Wednesday while a church commission investigates the expenditures on the $42 million residence complex.
As the new pontiff tries to reform the way the church does business, German dioceses, which reportedly include the world’s wealthiest in Cologne, are chafing under the new direction as membership numbers continue to dwindle. By Nele Mailin Obermueller and Jabeen Bhatti, Religion News Service
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