German bishops drive in BMW, Audi and Mercedes luxury sedans while the Pope does not hesitate to ride around in an old Fiat. Episcopal residences in Germany exude power and luxury. Money is lavishly spent by the Church to maintain them. For example, €2 million on the rococo-style palace of the Munich Archbishopric (the State of Bavaria donated another €6.5 million) and €10 million on a villa in Rome that serves as a guesthouse for the archdiocese.
Meanwhile, the Pope, as we all know, has refused to live in the Papal apartments in the Vatican and has moved permanently to a simple room in the nearby Santa Marta guesthouse and shares his meals with other guests (for more, see Der Spiegel's article here).
The bishop of Limburg has recently shaken Germany when it was revealed that €31 million, six times as much as originally planned, had been spent on his palatial residence facing the cathedral:
Mmm...It goes to show that the Germans are really rich!
The Bishop of Limburg, age 52, a thin and gaunt individual, does not seem to be overly worried by the swirling gossip and discontent. He looks rather happy in the courtyard of his luxurious residence :
For more information, read the Daily Mail's article here.
This is not a new story. Der Spiegel had already drawn attention to the bishop's scandalous profligacy a year ago, in an article, detailing the absurdity of his new residence (at the time as yet unfinished), see here. It even provided an interesting analytical overview of that residence:
What is striking in this picture, if you look closely, is that the Bishop's living quarters (number 6) are about the same size as the area reserved for receptions and conference rooms (number 3), and certainly much larger than any other area, including that destined to the nuns (number 2).
No wonder the Germans are furious and you better not show this to the Greeks...
But wait, the best news came in yesterday. As there is an on-going investigation into the bishop's accounts by the German Bishops' Conference (still on-going), it was expected that at least another two months would pass before the German clerical authorities and Rome took a decision. But lo and behold, the Pope did not wait for the results of the investigation to react. He suspended the Bishop and the accountant who helped him has resigned (see here).
What is interesting is that the Pope did not force the bishop to resign: that would have pre-empted the results of the on-going investigation. But suspending him sent a clear signal about what he wants for the Church.
Humility is in, conspicuous consumption is out!