Pope suspends 'Bishop of Bling' over $20,000 bathtub

FILE - The Aug. 29, 2013 file photo shows the Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst blessing a new Kindergarten in Frankfurt, Germany. Pope Francis temporarily expelled the German bishop from his diocese on Wednesday Oct. 23, 2013 because of a scandal over a 31-million-euro ( US dlrs 42 million) project to build a new residence complex, but refused popular calls to remove him. The Vatican didn't say how long Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst would spend away from the diocese of Limburg. But it said Limburg's newly named vicar general, the Rev. Wolfgang Roesch, would run the diocese during Tebartz-van Elst''s "period of time away." (AP Photo/Michael Probst, file)

The Vatican press office issued a statement on Wednesday announcing that Pope Francis has suspended Germany's Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst over a $55 million renovation to the bishop's official residence.

Apparently $20,000 is too much for a bathtub.

The bishop flew to Rome last week with low-cost airline Ryanair to explain himself to Francis --- following accusations he took an expensive ticket on a trip to India and squandered money.

His private quarters in a new diocesan building are reported to have cost some 2.9 million euros ($3.9 million) and included a 63-square-metre dining room and a 15,000 euro bathtub -- using the revenue from a religious tax in Germany.

The reports have caused a scandal in Germany and sparked calls for greater transparency in Catholic Church finances -- a reform aim of the new pope who has called for a "poor Church for the poor."

Bishop Tebartz-van Elst hasn't been seen in public since that meeting with Pope Francis last Monday. But, reports indicate that he felt "upbeat" after the discussion. The reports also indicate that the bishop's family has received threatening letters and phone calls in response to the controversy. [AFP]