You may already be familiar with the plight of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the so-called "bling bishop" of Limburg, Germany, who was widely criticized earlier this month for spending as much as $55M in church funds renovating his official residence. It should come as no surprise that a Vatican headed by the ascetic Pope Francis—who made headlines earlier this year when he decided to hang his large white hat not at the opulent Apostolic Palace, but at a Vatican guesthouse—has temporarily suspended the bishop from his post, saying that Tebartz-van Elst "could not follow his duty as a bishop," and encouraging him to spend "some time outside the diocese," as it were.
Of course, it's hard to say how much a home renovation should cost, aside from "not anywhere in the ballpark of $55M," but as is usually the case with these kind of high-profile spending dust-ups, the devil was in the details. The particular fineries that landed Tebartz-van Elst in hot water: a $35K conference table, a private chapel costing $4M, and, most infuriating of all, a bathtub that set the good Catholics of Germany back about $20K. Which, had he stopped and thought for a moment, might have struck him as a little excessive during a time of global financial uncertainty. But hey, at least we all know where to find a Christmas present for a man of his tastes, right?
Anyway, a church commission has been called to investigate the renovation costs of the Limburg residence, but in the mean time, bishops the world over can blame Tebartz-van Elts for why they can't have nice things—maybe leave the fancy, funky architecture to the Mormons, hmmm?
· Pope suspends German 'bling bishop' [The Guardian]