I’m on record as saying that Germany’s so-called Bishop of Bling deserved to be sanctioned by the Pope for spending over $40 million renovating his house. But … this?:
Germany’s recently suspended “Bishop of Bling” faces the prospect of seeing his lavish multimillion euro residence turned into a refugee centre or a soup kitchen for the homeless, Catholic church officials in his home diocese announced today.
A refugee center? Well, that would make sense under the new papal administration, given that Pope Francis made a point of expressing solidarity with African refugees who died trying to immigrate illegally to Italy, swamping the tiny island of Lampedusa:
At the height of migrant influx in 2011, when over 62,000 arrived in Italy, dozens of boats carrying hundreds and even thousands of people were arriving in Lampedusa every day and although the numbers have declined, arrivals have continued.
Shortly before the pope arrived, a boat carrying 165 migrants from Mali pulled into port, while on Sunday, 120 people, including four pregnant women, were rescued at sea after the motors in their boat broke down 7 miles off the coast.
Showing mercy and hospitality to suffering immigrants? I get that. But nobody forced those migrants, who aren’t fleeing persecution, to risk their lives to get to Europe. Where is the solidarity for the people of Lampedusa, and of other parts of Europe, who are being overwhelmed by illegal immigrants? (“Thousands every day” to that one island, in 2011). Are they supposed to surrender their land and way of life to invaders out of Christian duty? I’m not asking rhetorically; I really don’t understand this. It’s a morally complicated question. What does faith require of us in this situation?
Most Catholics interviewed by Aleteia more or less support Pope Francis’s move against the German bishop. Notre Dame architect Duncan Stroik, for example, tells Aleteia that the bishop’s spending was way out of line. But not all supported the pope. Marquette theologian Ulrich Lehner, a native German, thinks the bishop is being singled out unfairly for his spending, but that the whole affair has a broader meaning:
Lehner reads the whole situation as indicative of the state of the German church. “The affair in Limburg shows in my view two things: The German bishops are as a whole intimated and weak. Almost none of them dares to reform, to call for prayer, fasting and inner conversion, with the exception of the bishops of Regensburg and Eichstatt. The German Church is, as Cardinal Meisner once said, like a huge Cadillac with a tiny engine. Or put in other words: It has plenty of financial resources but only little spiritual strength, otherwise the good the church does would not be overshadowed by such a petty affair.”
“Second, the German Catholic Church is still reigned like in the 19th century. It has no transparency and Cathedral chapters defend old privileges like their enormously generous salaries with much more vigor than unborn life, the right to fair wages or the poor. All in all, I understand the uproar of the faithful and also of those who are not Catholic – it is a sign of a country, my own homeland, that sees the Church as a parasite on the modern state. The Church has not done much to counter such a view unfortunately.”
“I find it curious that men like Cardinal Mahony in Los Angeles can without criticism spend several hundred million dollars building vast, hideous new cathedrals that look like slaughterhouses, while a conservative bishop gets attacked mercilessly for spending around one tenth that amount restoring a historic building–which after all, would serve his successors long after he was gone.”
“Better targets, to my mind, would have been the bishops who covered up during the abuse crisis. Of course, according to the Dallas Morning News, that was two-thirds of the bishops in America, as of 2002. Had all those bishops been removed, that would have sent the kind of message we need. Hundreds of millions have gone down the black hole of litigation thanks to the negligence and complicity of those bishops. Surely, that could have been spent on the poor… on keeping open Catholic schools, on pro-life pregnancy centers, etc.”