Main | Thursday, October 10, 2013

GERMANY: Catholic Bishop Called To Resign Over $37M Private Residence

A Catholic bishop in Germany is facing demands to resign after it was revealed that his under-construction private residence will cost $37M. Via Reuters:
Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, bishop of Limburg, was investigated by a Vatican envoy last month after protests in his diocese against lavish spending at odds with Pope Francis's shift of the Church's focus towards simplicity and poverty. The soaring cost of the stately residence next to Limburg's hilltop cathedral was made public by the diocese on Monday and was immediately criticised by churchgoers and officials. "Such prestige projects simply don't fit with Catholicism," said local Catholic Raimund Champert. "The Church, like the Pope, has a responsibility to be humble and lead by example. We are not in the Middle Ages anymore." Christoph Hefter, a lay member of the diocesan council, said: "The cost is shocking, it is beyond belief." Pope Francis, whose simple style contrasts with the more baroque tastes of his predecessor Benedict, whom he replaced in March, said last week he wanted the Church to serve the poor and strip itself of "vanity, arrogance and pride."
Der Spiegel reported on the mansion last year.
Men in red T-shirts immediately appear whenever one approaches the construction site. "No photos!" they warn passersby, even though one can still make out very little from behind the high brick wall. Workers on the mystery-enshrouded construction site keep quiet as if they'd been forced to swear a vow of silence. Members of Limburg's building board haven't even been allowed to take a quick look at everything. And county council officials haven't been able to check on any of the rumors that have been circulating in the city. Taken together, these hold that the complex boasts dedicated rooms for reliquaries, a sauna, a fireplace, a wine cellar, gemstone detailing, statues of holy figures and a heatable roof that can protect the bishop's private chapel from snow and ice. The magnificent estate can only be seen from outside from a nearby balcony. But the woman with access to the balcony seems intimidated when asked about it. Certain "gentlemen," she says, have strictly forbidden her to allow interested visitors access to the balcony.
The bishop recently visited India on a mission to help "poor children who worked breaking stones." He flew there on a first class ticket that cost almost $10,000. (Tipped by JMG reader Rolf)

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