(Photo: Reuters video screenshot)
An organization for the homeless has called for the lavish $42 million residency built by Germany's recently suspended "Bishop of Bling" to be turned into a soup kitchen, as Catholic commentators continue wondering how Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg justified the expenses.
"The residence is like an inherited sin which the bishop has left in his wake," said a spokesman for the Caritas organization for the homeless last week, according to The Independent. "People who seek sanctuary with us could be given food in the residence."
The Diocese of Limburg did not respond to a request for comments by The Christian Post by press time.
Catholic commentators such as Fr. Peter Daly, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and pastor of Vianney parish in Prince Frederick, Md., wrote in an article on Monday for the National Catholic Reporter that Tebartz-van Elst could not have been thinking with Jesus when he made the spending decisions.
"Why did he think that in a world where children go to bed hungry and homeless people sleep in cars or on heating grates, even in rich countries like Germany, he could spend $20,000 on a bathtub? Why did he fly first class to India to visit orphans? How could he think that was OK? Didn't his conscience bother him?" Fr. Daly asked.
The "Bishop of Bling," as he was nicknamed by German press, caused an outrage in Germany when the expenses were revealed, leading to his visit to Pope Francis at the Vatican in October. While it was not confirmed whether the leader of the Roman Catholic Church personally spoke with Tebartz-van Elst, the bishop was later suspended as the Vatican launched an investigation into the various lavish expenses that the bishop indulged in.
The $42 million was spent not only for the bishop's private apartments, reports noted, but also on an 800-square-foot fitness room, private landscaped gardens and fountains, as well as a couple of million for elaborate walls surrounding the house.
"Where did Tebartz-van Elst learn such things? Did he learn them in the seminary? Did he learn it when he did graduate work at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana? Did he learn it at Munster, when he was writing about how to teach the faith to adults? Does he think his lifestyle was a good catechesis for followers of Jesus?" Fr. Daly continued to ask.
The Catholic priest concluded that Tebartz-van Elst could not have been thinking with Jesus when he made those choices. "Perhaps he wasn't thinking at all," he offered.