Roman Catholic bishops rarely serve as Page 1 tabloid fodder or top the national television ratings. But the prelate of Limburg earned this dubious distinction in 24 hours this week as outrage swelled after the news media reported the cost of the renovation of his residence, about $42 million, and a state prosecutor in Hamburg charged him with lying in a legal case.
The bishop ordered up a palatial living room, and his apartment alone cost $3.9 million, according to Jochen Riebel, the spokesman for the body administering church property in Limburg. Mr. Riebel said the bishop lied last summer when confronted over the cost, estimating the renovation at just $13.5 million.
Citing Mr. Riebel, the German news agency DPA itemized the work: $474,000 for carpentry and built-in cupboards, $610,000 for art, $135,000 for windows for a private chapel, $34,000 for a conference table, $20,000 for a bathtub.
“For heaven’s sake!” the headline atop the nation’s largest-selling tabloid, Bild, screamed on Friday. Over a graphic that showed the bishop’s living quarters and offices, it asked, “Why does the bishop need a €783,000 garden?”
By Friday, calls for the resignation of Bishop Tebartz-van Elst were multiplying.
Apparently the Bishop has an appointment with Pope Francis to explain all of this. It appears that Pope Francis is putting his calls for a more humble Church into action!