Pope Francis I has suspended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg for pimping out his official residence like some kind of Romish rap star, at a cost estimated to be as much as $55 million. The Vatican press office released a brief statement couching the suspension and investigation in the sort of bureaucratic language that smiles blandly as someone in the background is being hustled out a side door by burly men in nice suits:
“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,” the statement said.
We bet the Pope wishes him well in his future endeavors, too.
Just to add an extra dollop of WTF, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst has insisted that most of the cost of the lavish renovations were beyond his control, claiming they were required by German historic-preservation laws.
The renovations to the bishop’s residence have been a growing scandal since the summer; 4000 members of the Limburg diocese have signed an open letter complaining about the bishop. A New York Times article earlier this month brought international attention to the excesses, including a $34,000 conference table, a $20,000 bathtub, and $134,000 for windows in the bishop’s private chapel (total cost for the chapel alone: $4 million). Tebartz-van Elst has refused to resign, because of course he’s certain that doing God’s work requires a man to be comfortable. Plus, you know, the law. Can’t skimp on freshening up an 800-year old cathedral, and everything within sight of it.
The suspension is one step short of removing Bishop Tebartz-van Elst altogether; that decision will be made after a Bishops’ Conference completes an investigation. The leader of the German bishops conference said that he hoped Tebartz-van Elst would use his timeout to Think About What He’s Done:
“I am convinced that the bishop of Limburg… will confront this situation in a spirit of self-criticism,” Archbishop Robert Zollitsch,
We’re kind of hoping that the Pope will demote the bishop to the ecclesiastical equivalent of a buck private and send him to spend a decade or two emptying bedpans in an AIDS hospice, except we’d feel really bad for any patients who’d have to encounter him.
By Doktor Zoom