Not the cheese. I mean the Catholic bishop of Limburg, Germany, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, born in 1959 in Twisteden, Lower Rhine, now suspended from his bishopric by Francis. According to a Vatican statement, “a situation has been created in which the bishop can no longer exercise his episcopal duties.” Was it the 783,000 euro garden? Or the 20,000 dollar bathtub? The courtyard fountain was perhaps a touch flamboyantly phallic, but hey, building projects sometimes get away from busy servants of the Lord, even those in direct apostolic line of succession. Who is the pope to judge whether Franz-Peter’s haus ist nicht auszuhalten?
The statement from the curia asserts that “the Holy Father has been continuously and objectively informed of the situation.” Blah di blah blah. In fact Bishop Tebartz-van Elst, in his private meeting with Francis the other day, informed the pope that his advocacy of austerity and humility was merely a passing phase, and one ideology among others, soon to be forgotten by the next pope–spoiler alert–Pontiff Baroque Rococo Reconquista II. The Limburger raised his right eyebrow, normally a signal for an altar boy to feed him fresh lingonberries. The Pope then raised his right eyebrow, normally a signal to pull the plug, and the audience ended in mutual recrimination and incomprehension.
- Pope Expels German ‘Luxury Bishop’ From Diocese (nytimes.com)
- Pope bans Germany’s ‘luxury bishop’ from his diocese – The Globe and Mail (theglobeandmail.com)
- Pope Francis temporarily suspends German bishop in wake of scandal involving $42 million renovation project – @dw_english (dw.de)
- Vatican Not Amused by the ‘Bling Bishop’ and His $20,000 Bathtub (theatlanticwire.com)