Thursday, October 24, 2013
IMITATIONS OF CHRIST: THE FIRST THING YOU’RE GOING TO NEED IS A $21,000 BATH TUB
Pope Francis suspended Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of the German diocese of
Limburg yesterday. No, the Pope did not suspend Mr. Tebartz
van-Elst for displaying a lack of economy in the use of words and letters in his
name. The Pope suspended this popinjay
for gaudy, tacky, extravagant displays of wealth, the most salient of which was
a $42 million upgrade to his residence, which included such emulations of the
life of Jesus as a $21,000 bath tub.
Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz’s defenders, and there are many, argue that the good Bishop’s residence included a conference center and offices; the entire $42 million wasn’t spent on the bishop’s residence. Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz’s defenders actually make this argument with a straight face, as if every mid-sized diocese needs a $42 million conference center in its bishop’s residence. Such inane defenses leads one to ask not why Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz was suspended but, rather, why the suspension was limited to him, who differs only in degree from many (Yours truly is comfortable saying “most.”) of his brethren in the worldwide conference of bishops of the Church.
The silly and showy spending of the likes of Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz is one of the Church’s most glaring scandals for a number of reasons. The bishops, like all Catholics, indeed, all Christians, are here to imitate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We don’t know exactly what imitation of Christ means in today’s world, especially as it relates to the acquisition and application of material goods. While Jesus tells us what it means (Matthew 6, 25-34, which includes (31-33)….
“So do not worry and say ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the
and His righteousness and all these things will be given you besides”.), kingdom of God
we have a difficult time applying these assurances and admonitions to our modern, complicated world. But we do know two things about emulating Christ. First, we all fall short in this pursuit. Second, emulating Christ does not involve $42 million houses and $21,000 bath tubs.
Further, from a purely practical standpoint, the behavior of Mr. Tebartz-van Eltz and the legions of his brother bishops who doubtless wish they, too, could attain such heights of tackiness and phony elegance is scandalous to the Church for financial reasons beyond the obvious. Simply put, people understandably have a hard time giving money to people who live better than they do. When they see such poltroons as Tebartz-van Eltz living in opulence, they start to wonder where exactly their money is going. Again, such, er, upscale lifestyles among churchmen is not at al unique to Tebartz-van Eltz. To use an example that hits close to home, Cardinal Francis George, the Archbishop of Chicago, lives in the most expensive single family home in the city of
Chicago. Why? Don’t think people don’t take such things into
consideration when they are deciding how much, or even if, to give to the
Finally, forget about spending other people’s money. Any person, but especially any man, who spends such vast amounts of even his own money on his clothes, home, cars, or other trappings of wealth is a fool, a narcissistic fop who deserves not respect, or even consideration, but only ridicule and abuse. His utter lack of judgment regarding the spending of money betrays an utter lack of judgment on any other matter, perhaps especially matters of faith.
To have Cardinals, bishops, and priests parading around in foppish finery, living in over the top rectories and “bishops’ residences,” and being chauffeured around in luxury cars invites both the type of reasoned questioning, and outright sarcastic ridicule, to which the Church is being currently subjected. The Church has brought such treatment upon itself and the Pope is trying to correct that. Hopefully the suspension of the idiotic poltroon in
Limburg who calls himself a
man of God is only the first such step in that direction.
As I’ve said before though, the Pope is putting himself in danger, perhaps grave danger, by taking a stand against the excesses displayed by his brother bishops. (See Easter Sunday’s “(OUR NEW AND WONDERFUL PAPA) HAS POWERFUL ENEMIES”.) The Holy Father is already under attack by the vast elements in the Church and its hierarchy who have no problem with bishops’ living like Middle Eastern suzerains. Indeed, it is not too much to say that many in the hierarchy entered their profession (That’s the right noun; for such fops, the Church is not a calling but a profession.) not to serve Christ but rather to live like Herod. Their line of attack, steadily building momentum, will eventually evolve into an argument that Francis is not the “real” Pope, that the “real” Pope remains Benedict XVI (See 9/19/13’s POPE FRANCIS: WHAT WILL THE “TRADITIONALISTS” DO ABOUT THIS CRAZY MAN?), the man who was so fond of his red Prada shoes and who never missed a chance to parade around in finery that a Russian czar would envy. And who knows where it will go from there? These are many ruthless, Godless people who inhabit the Church hierarchy who don’t like people like Francis interfering with the “fine lifestyles” they think they have built for themselves.
Pope Francis, a good and saintly man, needs our prayers…and God’s protection.