'Bishop of Bling' getting a job at the Vatican

'Bishop of Bling' getting a job at the Vatican

                Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst

The Vatican has found a place for the “Bishop of Bling.”

It’s still a bit of a mystery, with no official confirmation, but it seems that Pope Francis has agreed to make German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst the “delegate for catechesis” at the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization. It’s a new position, created just for him.

Nearly a year ago, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Tebartz-van Elst as the bishop of Limburg, in the wake of a spending scandal. The bishop was remodeling his residence and a diocesan center to the tune of $40 million (his walk-in closets alone were said to have cost $480,000.)

At that time, the Vatican said Tebartz-van Elst would eventually be given another assignment. His position at the new evangelization council will involve making contact with bishops’ conferences on issues involving religious education, which has been one of his areas of interest. In contrast to earlier reports, he will not be given an executive position at the council.

It struck some as odd that a bishop forced to resign for financial mismanagement would land any job in the Roman Curia. All the more, in this case, because under the Curia restructuring plan being hammered out by papal commissions, the council for new evangelization may well disappear sometime next year.

However, parking problematic bishops in the Curia is a bit of a Vatican tradition.

After former Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo was removed from his Zambian diocese over faith-healing practices in 1983, he was brought to the Council for Migrants and Travelers as a special delegate. In 2011, Portuguese Bishop Carlo Azevedo ended up in a newly created position of delegate at the Pontifical Council for Culture, following disagreements with the patriarch of Lisbon.

Bishop Tebartz-van Elst is only 55, and presumably has many years of service to the church ahead of him. Whether his time at the Vatican is rehabilitation or reward remains to be seen.

One group wasted no time criticizing the appointment. SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement: “This is why corruption in the church hierarchy continues. And it’s why the supposed ‘new policies’ to deal with irresponsible bishops won’t work. Because virtually no wrongdoer is ever harshly disciplined. And even when a prelate’s misdeeds are so egregious that the Vatican must act, the ‘discipline’ is temporary.”

5 comments (Add your own)

1. Patti Fordyce wrote:
Perhaps this appointment is tacit acknowledgement that His Excellency's "crime" was not as grave as it was painted at the time. Personally, I never thought £40m was excessive for an episcopal residence *and* a diocesan centre, particularly in view of the income of the German Church. I wonder if His Excellency was less guilty of extravagance than of lack of enthusiasm for the current direction of the German Bishops' Conference.

Tue, February 10, 2015 @ 6:27 AM

2. Ruta wrote:
A 15,000 Euro standalone bathtub seems a bit over the top even for the supposedly rich German Church - hardly a bare necessity.

Tue, February 10, 2015 @ 11:56 AM

3. Bernard Cooper wrote:
Patti, giving the Bishop of Bling the title of "His Excellency" is incorrect. He is a mere Lord, or Lordship! I agree with Ruta about the costs: $480,000 for walk-in closets is obscene, let alone 15,000 Euros for a bathtub! Why can't these errant bishops be sent to an austere monastery for a period of penance, followed by missionary work in the most difficult of terrains or cultures?

Wed, February 11, 2015 @ 3:28 AM

4. Fr Thomas Buffer wrote:
I don't understand why SNAP consider themselves bound to comment on this situation at all. To the best of my knowledge there has been no suggestion that this bishop's difficulties had anything to do with the abuse of minors, or of adults for that matter.

Wed, February 11, 2015 @ 9:26 AM

5. Rob MCutchan wrote:
I think some of you have missed the point why this guy was removed. One major reason for his removal was that while things like this would have been ok under a different papacy, he failed realizing that this Pope, tries setting an example of papal trappings, clothes, lifestyle etc and this goes against all he thinks is important, and better use of the money could be found. I think being a bishop has gone to the 'Bishop of Bling's head and he is not someone special .... those days are long gone! And so is his future for some powerful position again.

Wed, February 11, 2015 @ 2:40 PM

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