Pope Francis Suspends 'Bishop Of Bling:' Why German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst Vacated Diocese of Limburg

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Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst
Bishop Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst (L) was expelled by Pope Francis (R) after the "Bishop of Bling" spent millions to reconstruct his official residence.

Pope Francis has suspended “Bishop of Bling” Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, ABC News reported Wednesday. The free spending bishop, who is also known as Bishop Deluxe, according to the site, was ordered to leave the Diocese of Limburg, though not permanently for now.

For the first time since he was elected, Pope Francis reinforced that people should live a more humble lifestyle. As for himself, the Argentinian pope famous declined to live in the Vatican’s grandiose papal residence.

The Vatican press office released a short statement that said the actions of the bishop had created a situation "where in the present moment he cannot exercise his Episcopal ministry." The pope’s decision to expel the “Bishop of Bling,” as he’s been called internationally, took effect immediately.

"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," the statement said, according to the news site.

How long the priest will be suspended depends on a report from the German Bishop Conference in regard to how much the cost of construction for the bishop’s official residence comes to, ABC News wrote. Pope Francis was informed last week that the costs might reach $55 million, which is $13 million over an already outstanding price.

But a lavish revision isn’t the only thing for which Bishop Tebartz-van Elst is under fire. He might have used Church money to fund a trip to India. As he is being investigated, a prosecutor’s office is deciding if he should be charged with perjury.

The family of the “Bishop of Bling" has been criticized since he was expelled, ABC News wrote. "We get daily death threats by phone or in letters," the brother of the bishop, Johannes, told German newspaper Bunte. Despite being ostracized, the bishop’s 87-year-old mother stands behind him.

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German bishops' conference, said he thinks the bishop will take the time to reflect during his expulsion. "I am convinced that the bishop of Limburg ... will confront this situation in a spirit of self-criticism," he said last week. 

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