Pope Francis has drawn praise for his humble lifestyle (including a taste for public transit). But one German bishop hasn't heeded the Pope's call for restraint.
More than one hundred local Catholics gathered in front of the Limburg Cathedral yesterday, calling for the resignation of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst after an audit revealed that the Bishop's new residence and office complex cost $42 million dollars, six times more than originally budgeted. A local publication reports that the bishop's bathtub alone cost $20,000.
"The only way I can explain it is that the Bishop of Limburg is either a sophisticated deceiver or that he's just plain sick," a spokesperson for the diocesan finance council told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The project's architect, Michael Frielinghaus, claims the Bishop was well aware of how much the project would cost since it was first announced in 2010.
Making matters worse for Tebartz-van Elst, prosecutors recently accused him of making false statements in a civil lawsuit he filed against Der Spiegel for reporting that he flew first class on a trip to visit India's destititute.
The beleaguered Bishop is now in Rome to meet with Vatican officials, who will decide whether he should keep his position in the church. Perhaps as a sign of remorse, the luxury-minded Bishop flew via budget airliner, Ryannair.
Der Spiegel has an aerial map detailing the multi-million dollar complex that can be viewed here. Below, via Reuters photographer Kai Pfaffenbach, a look at the Bishop of Limburg's facilities:
A couple look through the fence of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst's residence next to Limburg Cathedral in Limburg October 14, 2013. (REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach)