Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the infamous “Bling Bishop,” made headlines because of his lavish lifestyle. According to the Guardian, the Bishop got himself a new mansion, which totaled a sum of about €31 million. According to German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, the costs could’ve exceeded the €31 million, reaching up to €40 million instead. This, of course, is a perfect example of transparency in the Catholic church’s financial area as well as the faultless communication of the media’s major news outlets.
“God wants his people to live a good, comfortable life,” said an anonymous believer in defense of the Bling Bishop’s strategic distribution of the Catholic church’s capital. “I think it is imperative for God’s people to showcase the world how good life is if you align yourself with the laws of God by showcasing the wonderful gifts God gave you. It’s the easiest form of evangelism, because everybody wants to have such a life, too.”
Gossip in the local Catholic churches report that Bishop Tebartz-van Elst’s €15,000 bathtub is his favorite addition to the new palace. “It reminds me that the spiritual cleansing of the soul comes with a price,” the Bishop stated according to reports by holy men who hung out in his €738,000 garden after mass.
“I don’t understand religion or emoconics,” said Maria Luther, a middle schooler in Basel, Switzerland.
Inspiration Avenue interviewed Jonathan E. Mule, a 35-year-old Catholic Priest at a local church, about this story.
Thank you, Pastor Mule, for taking some time to talk about the recent news with us.
Thank you for having me.
Why do you think Bishop Tebartz-van Elst purchased this mansion?
I think he wanted to show the world that, if you’re Catholic, God gives you favor in many ways, also financially. I have many friends who are atheists and they told me that it was very intriguing to see how God can “give and take away,” as the Bible says. In this case, God gave.
What are the pros and cons of this widely-discussed story?
The obvious con is that now everybody knows that the Pope’s “poor church for the poor” idea is not true, because the church obviously has an enormous amount of money. A pro is that Catholics do have access to such funds. That would be a con for non-Catholics, of course. Another pro is that this story got so much publicity, so now more people know about the truth. “The truth shall set you free, John 8:32.”
Many people think that God would not approve of the Bishop’s lavish spending. Do you think God would approve of it?
Many Catholics give their money to the Catholic church in return for salvation. Bishop Tebartz-van Elst therefore used the excess funds of the Catholic church to build himself a new residence in which, by the way, there is a little chapel so he can thank God for the available funds to improve his lifestyle. God wants salvation for his people, and the Catholic church sells exactly that, so yes, it helps people get to heaven, and I think God would approve of that.
Are you happy for him or angry at him for his financial behavior?
I’m certainly happy for him. He worked very hard all of his life, preaching the truth and bringing light into the darkness. It would be unfair for him not to be able to enjoy the luxuries God has enabled him to have at such an age.
Thank you for your insightful statements, Pastor Mule.
Very welcome, be blessed in abundance.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst made a smart move by taking a Ryanair flight to the Vatican to meet up with the Pope in order to talk about the new mansion for about twenty minutes.
I spent my summer in the United States, and now I’m back home in Germany. In the last three months of traveling all over the land of the free, I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve seen what goes on behind the curtains in different churches, how farming businesses function, I’ve learned some of the secrets of Hollywood and Universal Studios, and I’ve seen how people in varying financial realms deal with money. That last one really stood out to me. Money and how people handle it.
We seem to be under the impression that when we get money, we can do with it whatever we want. We can spend it on clothes, shoes, iPhones, website domain names, hair dye, whatever. It’s our money, right? So naturally, we buy things from which we can benefit. You wouldn’t give a hundred dollar bill to a homeless man. He’d spend it on drugs and booze anyway. It would be a waste. You’d rather keep that bill and buy $100 worth of drugs and booze for yourself. Now that’s money well-spent.
I watched Kick-Ass the other day. Great movie. Superheroes are dope. The reason we love superheroes is because they do good deeds while concealing their true identities by wearing masks. It’s a noble thing. We’d immediately reward a masked helper for doing something great with a round of applause and hat-tips. But here’s why we can’t be that masked helper in terms of money:
When we give money away, we make sure that the whole world knows that we gave that money away. We post it on all social media websites and make YouTube videos about it and let people know how great we are for giving money to people who need it. It would be pointless and, quite frankly, pretty stupid to donate anonymously, otherwise you couldn’t get any praise for your good deeds. We want them to be acknowledged. We’d help an old woman across a busy street without wearing a mask, because we know that people are looking at us, thinking, “Gee, what a kind-hearted, nice person to help that poor old lady across the street.” They’ll remember our face for that. But to really make sure people remember it, we have to tweet it: “Just helped a grannie across the street #goodsamaritan,” and hope someone replies with, “Dood ur so cool #grannieswag.”
But what if you gave anonymously? What if you stopped focusing on yourself and started focusing on others? What if you were the Secret Good Samaritan? Call me cheesy. Go ahead.
There’s a story about an anonymous donor in Braunschweig, Germany, who placed envelopes containing €10,000 in random mailboxes around the city. Nobody knows who he or she is and why they’re doing it, but they started a movement. The people in Braunschweig have started to give anonymously to each other. They stand in line at a Starbucks, ready to pay for their beverage, only to find out that someone had previously paid for it already. Stuff like that. Only because some person, the Modern-Day Robin Hood, thought it might be a neat idea to randomly hand out twenty €500 bills tucked away in envelopes. I mean, who does that?
I know you might not have hundreds of thousands of euros lying around and collecting dust, but you can do the simple things for others. Something that nobody else would do. Get creative.
Anyone would jump at an opportunity to give in return for praise and fame. But would you give just in order to give? Who knows; you might even start a movement yourself.
A couple of days ago, I visited the Oasis church in Los Angeles. It was a nice experience. And by nice I mean harmless. I sat in the very back row so that I can observe things better. I don’t remember the last time I was in a church for an actual church service. Maybe a year ago or so. By the way, what’s the service? Is the church serving the community? Is the community serving the church? Is the church serving God? I don’t understand why they call it a service rather than a gathering of believers. Because that’s all it is.
Every time I go to church, I try to view the service through the eyes of an atheist or an agnostic. I’ve tried the Christian perspective, but it’s boring. I always think, “If God is so great, why aren’t his followers like him?” The service at the Oasis church wasn’t impressive. I felt sad instead of empowered when I left. It was superficial and shallow. Literally whenever the pastor said “Jesus!” or “Praise the Lord!” or “Free coffee in the back!”, everyone would rejoice and shout “Amen!” I mean, the pastor wouldn’t even say anything of significance and the audience would go mental.
Churches try to make newcomers feel like they’re part of the family. They try to eliminate that awkward beginning stage of feeling like you have to go through an initiation program in order to be part of the church’s “cool group.” I appreciate that effort. But I don’t understand. I don’t understand why they gather in a building in order to listen to a pastor for two hours and then act like anyone else the next day. Aren’t they a family outside the church building as well?
Christians are supposed to be exceptional. They’re supposed to model something incredible to the world. Show everyone how much more superior the Kingdom is to the secular world in all areas of life. If the church is responsible for an economic, medical, educational, technological, or social revolution of a nation, they’re doing something right. Christians shouldn’t be going to church. Anyone can go to church. But not anyone can be the church.