Michael Powell, a New York Times columnist, recently visited Pittstown, New Jersey, to get a first-hand look at the weekend/vacation home of John J. Myers, the long-failing head of the Newark Archdiocese.
The 4,500-square-foot home has a handsome amoeba-shaped swimming pool out back. And as he’s 72, and retirement beckons in two years, he has renovations in mind. A small army of workers are framing a 3,000-square-foot addition.
This new wing will have an indoor exercise pool, three fireplaces and an elevator. The Star-Ledger of Newark has noted that the half-million-dollar tab for this wing does not include architects’ fees or furnishings.
There’s no need to fear for the archbishop’s bank account. The Newark Archdiocese is picking up the bill.
A spokesman for Myers explains why journalists just don’t understand.
“The press says it’s a hot tub; it’s a whirlpool,” he says of one of the wing’s accouterments. “He’s getting older — there are therapeutic issues.”
Powell isn’t having it, and he unburdens himself in his must-read piece.
So many leaders of the church have served it so badly for so many decades that it’s hard to keep track of their maledictions. Archbishop Myers provides one-stop shopping. He is known to insist on being addressed as “Your Grace.” And his self-regard is matched by his refusal to apologize for more or less anything.
It was revealed last year that a priest seemed to have broken his legally binding agreement with Bergen County prosecutors to never again work unsupervised with children or to minister to them so long as he remained a priest. When next found, he was involved with a youth ministry in the Newark Archdiocese.
Parishioners in Oradell, N.J., also discovered that the archdiocese had allowed a priest accused of sexual abuse to live in their parish’s rectory. A furor arose, and last summer the archbishop sat down and wrote an open letter to his flock. He conceded not a stumble. Those who claim, he wrote, that he and the church had not protected children were “simply evil, wrong, immoral and seemingly focused on their own self-aggrandizement.”
As to his critics, the archbishop accused the media of refusing to explore the “lifestyles” of the former or marginalized priests who criticize the church. “Lifestyle” is an intriguing kidney punch of a euphemism; presumably the archbishop meant “gay.”
Myers’ profligacy is troubling to many New Jersey Catholics, but it pales in comparison to the palace that a German colleague of his is building.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, whom I first wrote about here, may have spent upwards of $40,000,000 on his private residence in Limburg, Germany. Earlier this week it emerged, thanks to dogged inquiries by Der Spiegel and the Süddeutsche Zeitung, that some of that money very likely came from a defunct Catholic charity whose funds were intended to help “large families with struggling children.”
(Image via Shutterstock)