Bishop’s Lavish Spending Angers Germans

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!

The article says Archbishop Zollitsch will meet with the Pope, not the bishop of Limburg. I think they mixed that up.

This should be interesting. But before anyone completely unloads on the bishop, it should be noted that his predecessor was the one who ordered the renovation.

I don’t know. I did some additional reading on this and his predecessor never lived there; choosing to live in an apartment in a local seminary and opening the building as a home for refugees instead. That doesn’t sound like a man who would order a $20,000 bath tub let alone spend $42 million to turn the traditional residence into a private palace. From what I’ve read, the current bishop made some rather expensive changes to the original renovation plan (which only had an estimated cost of $4 million dollars for the whole complex). For example, ordering that a standing advent wreath be hung from the ceiling of the chapel instead; increasing the cost by a factor of 10!

The Bishop of Limburg has flown to Rome, along with Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, although on different planes.

The Bishop is being hammered by media and laity intensely. He has made mistakes, and grave ones at that, but he doesn’t deserve such treatment at the moment. In the state things are in and the public image he now has, he cannot really hope to effectively head the Diocese any longer.

It appears that the building complex will cost € 31 000 000, which equals about $ 42 000 000. Among the controversial fittings are a luxury bathtub for €15 000, adjustments to the chapel to hang (rather than stand) an Advent wreath from the ceiling for approx. € 100 000, constant alterations and demolitions of already completed buildings at the Bishop’s wish and quite a few others.

This whole affair is causing untold damage to the Church here in Germany. It’s a pity, I really liked him, but now I am seriously doubting what I thought he was. We will of course never know the complete truth, but what is out there at the moment doesn’t look good.

This is one story that I’ve heard a lot of conflicting things about. I’m just going to list what I’ve heard, in no particular order.

*]The current bishop ordered an expensive renovation
*]The former bishop ordered the renovation
*]The renovation is of the Episcopal residence
*]The renovation is largely of the pastoral center, which the bishop’s residence is attached to
*]Various expensive things
*]Parishoners are complaining
*]The bishop invited several people from each parish over to show that it isn’t excessive


I’m not really sure what to think, because there’s so much in the air.

Let me help you out.

The previous Bishop ordered the renovation project, but its current form came into being under the current Bishop.

The renovation is of the entire area, which includes Bishop’s flat, administration, chapel, museum, garden, guest and conference rooms.

The other things are correct, although the Bishop’s private quarters were not part of the tour.

The problem is less about the costs than the Bishop’s conduct. He hid the costs from the Vatican, it appears. The administration is even saying he told them to conceal the true costs and publish a false and much too low number. That’s the accusation.

The man is clearly ill and needs therapy and prayer time at a monastry.

And the Vatican investigation cleared the bishop of wrong-doing.

Many of our popes seemed to have lived in luxury; the Vatican is a palace; somehow this has always been justified

Alrighty, that brings things together. Thank you.

The Vatican is a piece of land, and the City is the little country and jurisdiction built on it. The Apostolic Palace is a large building with lots of hallways, rooms and offices. The Popes have usually lived in the Papal Apartments, which are a series of rooms in one corner of the top floor of the Palace. The Apartments themselves are beautiful and well-decorated but are by no means palatial in the sense that they can be compared to the palaces of the various monarchs of the world. The Pope’s bedroom in the Apostolic Palace is quite small actually. =p

No one should hear “Apostolic Palace” and think “Buckingham Palace.” These are not comparable.

No, they didn’t. That’s a headline, but nowhere has such a conclusion ever been reached.

The one thing that I find curious, since so few are going to Church now in Europe, is where is all that money coming from in the first place?!!!

Germans have a Church tax, which makes the Catholic Church in Germany have quite a bit of cash.

Yes. In addition, the Church doesn’t pay her Bishops and other clergy herself, the state does. Dioceses have a second source of money, the “Bischöflicher Stuhl”, the See of the Bishop. Those are funds that hail from the past, endowments, investment, shares, real estate… that’s where the money for the Limburg Diocesan Centre came from.

This thread has gone beyond the line as far as uncharitably speculation, gossip and derogatory comments towards one of our clergy who is not here to defend himself.

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