Here’s proof that money really can’t buy happiness. Yesterday, Pope Francis announced the immediate suspension of German Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst from the diocese of Limburg.
The official statement from the Vatican press office states that, “Pending the results of this examination and the related investigations on the responsibilities in this regard, the Holy See considers it appropriate to authorize Bishop Franz -Peter Tebartz-van Elst a period of stay outside the diocese.”
Bishop Tebartz-van Elst, also known as the Bishop of Bling, ignored Pope Francis’ suggestion that prelates live more humbly. According to reports, the bishop’s home renovations may reach $55 million, which is $13 million over budget.
While Pope Francis famously shuns the papal residence in favor of a smaller abode, the Bishop of Bling’s new digs reportedly includes walk-in closets that cost approximately $475,000; a $20,000 bathtub; $34,00 conference table, and a heated roof for his personal chapel. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst defended his spendy new home, saying the money was divided up over the historical preservation of 10 buildings.
But the bishop’s habits of over spending don’t stop there. He is also coming under fire for using church money on a recent trip to India where he visited charitable projects. The bishop flew first class, though his diocese says he used frequent-flier miles for the upgrade from coach.
Prior to news of the expensive renovations, thousands of members of the Limburg diocese signed a letter complaining about his leadership style and according to the priest’s brother, Johannes, the church is receiving daily death threats.
Until the bishop is reinstated, the diocese will be run by a substitute vicar general.