'Bling Bishop' Wanted to Blow $45 Million on His Headquarters
The Limburg, Germany bishop reportedly resigned on Wednesday after a 108-page report by Germany's Catholic Church revealed that building costs at his headquarters had topped out at around $45 million, up from the original estimate of $7.5 million.
Tebartz-van Elst was suspended by Pope Francis last October, when his spending habits first surfaced, and has since been the target of continual criticism from his congregation.
In his first official comments on the matter, Tebartz-van Elst admitted on Thursday that his tenure was driven by personal interest and marked by disorder, according to German-English-language website The Local.
But he also tried to deflect some of the blame onto his subordinate, Vicar General Franz Kaspar, whom the report says oversaw the diocese's assets. The bishop says the costs built up because he was trying to fix construction projects that had gone awry, but also claims that those costs were grossly overstated.
However, upon further examination, some of those projects don't appear to have much to do with "construction projects."
Tebartz-van Elst allegedly had the headquarters' windows outfitted with bronze frames worth around $2.4 million, artwork and other decorations worth about $1.6 million, a $292,000 fish tank and LED lights that cost over $893,000.
The report also found that the bishop reported false costs to the public and to a cardinal who was sent to investigate the spending problem in September, according to the New York Times.
Whether Tebartz-van Elst broke the law is unclear, but church officials have asked legal experts to examine their findings, and they're looking to hire a replacement for the Bishop. The Vatican said it will give Tebartz-van Elst a new role within the church.