Church reform: Calling all accountants and auditors

It is not often that an article starts this way: “The $20,000 bathtub and $482,000 walk-in closets ordered by ‘Bishop Bling-Bling’ — the moniker of Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the now-suspended bishop of Limburg — have scandalized the German public.”

That recent piece, written for Religion News Service by Nele Mailin Obermueller and Jabeen Bhatti, and reprinted by National Catholic Reporter, explained that Pope Francis had temporarily suspended Tebartz-van Elst. Church authorities wanted to know why the bishop spent $42 million to renovate his residence.

Tebartz-van Elst has a well-known predilection for pomp, circumstance, and finery. See another article, written by Christa Pongratz-Lippitt (Austrian correspondent for the London Tablet), and also posted at NCR: “He favors ornate vestments with gold brocade and white gloves when presiding at Mass. During a hospital chapel dedication this year, he used so much chrism oil and incense that the altar caught fire and two-yard-high flames shot up. A catastrophe was only avoided in the last minute.”

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