A Carnival float of Pope Francis and the "bishop of bling"
For those of us who grew up in Catholic regions where Carnival, Karneval, or Mardi Gras is a big deal, it always seems a little strange to get to Ash Wednesday without having had any big and crazy festivities, parades, and parties—to drive out the winter and the devil—before the Lenten season starts.
So it made my day today when, just before the end of Shrove Tuesday, I came across photos posted at the Huffington Post  of a float from the Rosenmontag (“Rose Monday”) Parade in the German city of Düsseldorf, not too far from where I grew up.
The Karneval parades in the Rhineland always feature some subversive send-ups of the powerful—whether it be politicians, celebrities or church leaders. This year one of the floats depicted Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the infamous German “bishop of bling,” whom Pope Francis suspended last October after revelations of his $43million renovation of his bishop’s residence outraged Catholics around the world. He’s pictured here, desperately trying to exorcise a smiley Pope Francis, who threatens his bag of Privilegien (privileges) as well as his big sack of money and ornate, jewel-encrusted bishop’s wardrobe.
Wishing you all helau (the Carnival greeting in Düsseldorf) and alaaf (that’s what we say in Cologne and my hometown of Aachen)!