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Pope Francis calls infamous 'Bishop of Bling' to answer for himself

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A German bishop known for his personal extravagance has been summoned to Rome where he met with Pope Francis presumably to discuss his personal expenditures and lifestyle.

ROME, ITALY (Catholic Online) - Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, 53, is a relatively young and extravagant bishop, so extravagant in fact, he has been dubbed "the bishop of bling."

Public outcry over his expenditures brought him to Pope Francis' attention. Pope Francis has called for the Church to be poor, for the poor. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst's habits appear contrary to this call to action.

Tebartz-van Elst was appointed in 2008 by Pope Benedict. As Bishop of Limburg, Tebartz-van Elst authorized 31 million in spending on a new residence and community center. He reportedly dropped 15,000 on his bathtub alone.

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According to a statement released by his diocese, the 20 minute meeting was "an encouraging encounter."

Meanwhile Pope Francis has been clear stating that money is a destructive force that should be used to support humanity, not luxury. It is true that the 31 million spent on the community center and residence could have fed a lot of hungry people.

In Germany, people pay a state tax to churches which helps to find these projects. This is unique from many other countries where churches are funded entirely by donations from the faithful. Since donations are typically sporadic and small, churches in most of the world have little choice but to serve in a state of perpetual austerity.

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For his part, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst said the money was actually spent on 10 separate building projects. He also told Bild, a national publication, that "People who know me know that I don't need a pompous lifestyle."

Bishops are unchallenged heads of their diocese, holding office until they die. Bishops normally cannot resign or be dismissed. However, the Pope does have the ability to dismiss a bishop. If Bishop Tebartz-van Elst does not make changes that satisfy Pope Francis, it is possible he could find himself in just such a situation. After that, he could be ordered into any station within the Church by the bishop that replaces him.

Right now, there is no apparent move to see the "bishop of bling" replaced, but he has been put on notice, and it is certain that Pope Francis is watching.

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