Bishop of Bling's $43 Million Spending Spree Included a $21,000 Bathtub

| by Lina Batarags

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst's $43 million dollar renovation of his home has earned him a new nickname: The Bishop of Bling.

The funds he spent were Church funds, which he questionably allocated to install features such as a $21,000 bathtub and a $1.1 million garden into his residence.

The spending spree has also cost the German bishop his title: after a local Church investigation and an audit of church over-runs in October, the Vatican temporarily removed him from his position in the diocese of Limburg, at which point Tebartz-van Elst offered his resignation.

In a statement, the Vatican announced that it had studied the investigation's findings, and accepted Tebartz-van Elst's resignation.

A 108-page report for the German Bishops' Conference stated that the bishop alone "must carry the full responsibility" for the project because he did not share information with anyone. The accounting and construction programs the bishop used had not been "transparent either to the diocese or the public."

The scandal has abruptly changed German bishops' centuries-old policies of secrecy when it comes to reporting the value of their private endowments.

The Bishop of Bling's excessive spending coincides with Pope Francis's widespread urging Church officials to live simpler lives and get closer to the poor.

In fact, Pope Francis has on several occasions told bishops not to live like princes, and has himself chosen to live in modest Church guest house quarters, rather than in the spacious papal apartments in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

For the time being, Monsignor Manfred Grothe has been appointed to run the diocese as an administrator on the Vatican's behalf.

The Vatican has announced that a position will be eventually found for Tebartz-van Elst, who, at age 54, is still 21 years shy of official retirement age in the Church.

Although Tebartz-van Elst has apologized for any "carelessness or misjudgment," he denies any wrongdoing.


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