God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Reflections / Gedanken

No step without “Limburg”

English: Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, Bishop ...

Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, Bishop of Limburg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Traveling in Europe, even on a complete different topic, seems in  these days impossible without being asked about the “blink bishop” – especially when you are a Catholic priest. And obviously the temptation is big then just to comment and say what has to be said and what everybody else in saying anyhow. For me there are several layers of problems and facts which has to be looked at. 

First of all I must say – despite all criticism I have towards the Bishop of Limburg I have to admit: on a human level I feel sorry for him. It is tough to be drawn down from where ever he thought he was standing into the realities of life and media. It’s really tough luck and it needs inner strength to survive such an onslaught.
The questions people raise – and I do too – are:  Can it be, that the responsible people of the Limburg Domkapitel pick a bishop only on the grounds of knowing some of his publications, as one can read as a justification for his election? Is the way, bishops are chosen without any involvement of the laity and councils really working in our days? Or is it time to change the regulations and look back how it was in the beginning of church life?


The system church with the strong role of a bishop and the system society with a strong yearning for transparency and democracy – how do we avoid in the future that church personal falls into that gap or trap?


Money matters need transparency – even for money outside the regular budgets. And even having councils to control – the causa Limburg shows that even matured people seemed to fail the test to stand up to a bishop if they feel he is acting wrong.


I am convinced that “Limburg” will be a turning point for many habits, the German Church has cultivated also through the concordance which was agreed about during a dark time of German politics. Times have changed and people have changed and it is our all task to learn out of it and try to develop a church which is transparent, when it comes to money matters, more open to changes in how decisions are made in many instances. “Limburg” is a wake up call we should hear as a church.
And I guess, the discussion has just begun.



Filed under: Catholic Church, General, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, , , , , ,

Honesty and Trust are essential

English: Limburger Dom Limburg an der Lahn Deu...

Limburger Dom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not sure who follows the story of the Roman-Catholic Bishop of Limburg, whose residence building rose from estimates 5.5 million Euro to over 31 million Euro and who is facing at the same time prosecution for a false affidavit. On the background of a humble Pope Francis, those matters are obviously seen more grave than they would have seen before and it is to wait and see how things develop. The bishop is now in Rome and I am sure the press will be eager to find out what is happening as we “speak” or communicate via this blog.
As my bishop Stephan Ackermann pointed out last night on German TV, without trust a bishop can’t work and it seems that this has gone lost in the diocese of Limburg / Germany. And obviously it goes without say that bishops have to stick to the truth, especially when giving an affidavit. Having a prosecution of a bishop for lying was unheard of in Germany till last week.
I think most Catholics and even non Catholics feel that spring has arrived again in our church and that perspectives have changed. And that attitude has to change also for those thinking till now that they are above the laity and ruling in the church, commonly labeled as serving. The church serves the spiritual needs of people, the church is obliged to proclaim the good news and the unconditional love of God and his option for the poor and marginalized in our society. Posh residences of those in charge of serving are contradicting this duty.

Obviously there is a wide span of opinions what the term “modest” living means and I think we have to be very careful not to judge too harshly when others have other opinions on this subject. So I am actually not interested what the heavily discussed price tag for the bathtub of the bishop of Limburg is. What I find utmost disturbing is the fact of non-transparency and as a member of his financial advisory board publicly claimed, that the bishop asked to conceal the real costs of the building for public consumption. I also don’t mind the bishop flying first class – of course it is a matter of discussion whether this is appropriate – what I really mind is when he claims publicly and on video record that he only flew business class when knowing better. If you don’t want to admit to something, then rather be silent.

From a human point of view I feel sorry for him – it is tough to suddenly stand more or less alone in front of the public eye and not being able to conceal the obvious weaknesses of an expensive taste and a very own way to see realities.  But if you chose to accept a very public role with lots of responsibilities in church and society, then one has to know that scrutiny will follow. And media can be unmerciful and not forgiving.

Whatever happens in the next day – lets hope that it brings an end to this rather sad story. Let’s see how Pope Francis handles this case of a bishop losing the trust of his clergy and the faithful.

Filed under: Catholic Church, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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