BERLIN — Pope Francis, who has made humility and modesty his hallmark, sent a swift and clear message to Roman Catholics around the world Wednesday that he wants all representatives of the church to do the same.
He suspended a German bishop accused of spending millions on lavish renovations to his residence, and forced the chief administrator of the bishop’s diocese into early retirement.
The bishop, Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, of Limburg, Germany, was reported to have allowed costs for his residence and other church buildings to run to more than $41 million. The project drew ridicule in the German media for luxuries like a $20,000 bathtub, a $1.1 million landscaped garden — and a cross to be suspended from the ceiling of a personal chapel that necessitated the opening of a roof.
The pope acted just two days after receiving the bishop in Rome, where he was summoned to explain himself.
The Vatican issued a statement saying that the pope had been “comprehensively and objectively” informed about what was going on in the diocese and that Tebartz-van Elst “currently cannot exercise his office.”