It’s as if the Reformation never happened. Five hundred years after Martin Luther attacked the excesses and exorbitance of the Catholic Church, it appears one German bishop missed the memo.
The Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has been temporarily relieved of his pastoral duties and is under investigation after it emerged that he had spent nearly $40 million renovating the mansion that serves as his official residence.
The Bishop was summoned to the Vatican by Pope Francis, who is attempting to re-cast the church as a friend of the impoverished, and promote a simpler, more frugal lifestyle. This clearly was not the style His Grace was accustomed to. Not only is he accused of having lied in court regarding the cost of the renovation, it has also emerged that he took a first-class flight to India on an outreach trip for the poor.
An itinerary reveals that, among some things, Bishop Tebartz-van Elst spent $475,000 on a walk-in closet and $20,000 on a new bathtub.
The Independent newspaper in Britain has now learned that plans are under consideration for the home to be converted into a refugee centre or a soup kitchen. Though an act of blatantly self-serving PR, the speed of this decision is progress for the Church; it wasn’t until the advent of the millennium that they admitted Galileo was right all along.
The revelations have caused outrage in Germany, where, although there is no state religion, Germans are required to pay a tithe to a church as part of their taxes.
We can assume that ostentatious bathtubs and multimillion dollar home renovations were not what ordinary Germans had in mind.