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Why Did Pope Francis Just Suspend the 'Bishop of Bling'?


"Bishop Deluxe"

Pope Francis smiles at the end of a meeting with young people entitled 'Throw your nets' in Largo Carlo Felice in Cagliari on September 22, 2013. The pope is on a one-day pastoral visit to Sardinia to meet workers, business representatives, prisoners, the poor, young people, leading representatives from the world of culture and the islands Catholic bishops. The pontiff wanted to visit the Marian shrine of Bonaria ('Good air') because it gave his hometown of Buenos Aires its name. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

He's known as the "Bishop of Bling" and "Bishop Deluxe" -- and neither of those titles are endearing. German Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst's financial controversies have led Pope Francis to suspend the Catholic leader, ordering him to temporarily leave the Diocese of Limburg.

The decision, announced Wednesday, comes as Tebartz-van Elst has been accused of excessive spending on remodeling the official bishop's residence -- a total cost of $55 million, ABC's "Good Morning America" reported.

That sum is apparently $13 million over budget. Tebartz-van Elst's own private residence at the same location is said to have cost $4.1 million alone.

While "Good Morning America" reported that the move to remove the bishop from his post may be temporary, it's sending the clear message that exorbitant behavior won't be tolerated on Francis' watch.

Tebartz-van Elst, however, has maintained that the spending was rooted in historical preservation costs associated with the restoration of 10 buildings on the property. Now, an investigation will determine the details.

Tebartz-van Elst's future will be decided after the German Bishop Conference finishes a detailed report on the remodeling project, something that could take three months to complete.

"Pending the results of this examination and the related investigations on the responsibilities in this regard, the Holy See considers it appropriate to authorize Bishop Franz -Peter Tebartz-van Elst a period of stay outside the Diocese," a Vatican statement said.

Limburg's vicar general, the Rev. Wolfgang Roesch, will immediately begin taking up Tebartz-van Elst's responsibilities, CBS News reported.

Pope Francis smiles at the end of a meeting with young people in Largo Carlo Felice in Cagliari, Sept. 22, 2013. (AFP/Getty Images)

Francis made his decision to suspend the faith leader following a meeting with Tebartz-van Elst last week. The bishop's alleged behavior differs greatly from the choices the pontiff has made. As TheBlaze has reported, the pope declined residence at the Apostolic Palace, drives his own vehicle and avoids most excesses.

Even if this situation is settled, Tebartz-van Elst's problems might not be over. The Catholic leader is also being investigated for allegedly making false claims surrounding church money that was used for travel in India.

"The bishop is also accused of giving false statements in court about an expensive flight he took to India to visit poor communities," French news agency Agence France-Presse reported. "Prosecutors say he gave false statements in a Hamburg court battle against news weekly Der Spiegel when he denied having told the magazine's journalist that he flew business class."

Perjury charges could follow as a result of this testimony.

(H/T: "Good Morning America")



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