Pope Francis doesn't only preach humility and the virtues of a simple life. He also lives by that creed, and he seems inclined to govern the church by it too. He has suspended a big-spending German bishop who has become notorious for perceived waste of money. The new headquarters which Bishop Tebartz-van Elst has built for his diocese is estimated to have cost more than 30 million euros.
Some claim the financing of this ostentatious project lacks transparency, and there are allegations of wrongdoing. As if that weren't bad enough, the justice authorities are investigating the bishop for allegedly making false statements about whether he took a luxury flight to India.
The separation of church and state is enshrined in the German constitution. Funding for both the Catholic and Protestant churches comes from church members. But this money is collected through the state tax system. And the state also adds cash of its own. It pays the salaries of bishops, funds church-run kindergartens, hospitals and schools. There has been criticism of the level of control that the churches have over these institutions. For instance, in some cases employees have been dismissed if they did not follow church teachings.
Is Germany truly a secular country? What would the church be without its lavish buildings, such as Cologne's famous cathedral? Has Germany's so-called 'bishop of bling' become the target of deliberate campaign in the media? Or is it right to say that his actions no longer fit with a Catholic church trying to reform itself?
Tell us what you think: "Paradise Lost? Crusade on Catholic Bling"
Alan Posener - was born in London and grew up in Kuala Lumpur and West-Berlin. A teacher by training, he quit school to become a freelance author and journalist. He worked as an editor and author for the German newspaper “Die Welt” and was chief of commentary for "Welt am Sonntag". At the present, he contributes to a variety of media, among them the debate magazine The European. Posener is the author of several critically acclaimed books, among them biographies of the American icons John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Elvis Presley.
Claudia Keller - after completing her degree in history and German studies, she worked as a trainee for the Berlin daily newspaper „Der Tagesspiegel“. After finishing her journalistic training she stayed on as an editor. She writes primarily about topics such as religion, integration and education policy. At the same time she also publishes articles in the weekly paper „Die Zeit“ and in the magazine „Chrismon“.
John Berwick - A British-born journalist, John grew up in South Africa, where he completed a degree in Philosophy. He later moved to Belgium and then Germany where he studied Theology. He continued to work as a correspondent for the South African media and later as a documentary film producer for the Central Office of Information in Britain. For the past ten years he has worked for DW-TV as a Religious Affairs Correspondent.