Daniel Burke of CNN and research librarian Lindsey Knight went through publicly available state and local government tax records, confirmed their findings with Catholic Church officials, and are reporting that “10 of the 34 active archbishops in the United States live in buildings worth more than $1 million.”
Check out the digs for New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan:
That place is worth more than $30,000,000, according to one appraisal company.
And Dolan doesn’t even have a wife or kids.
That’s not to say these Church officials live alone. Many of the Archbishops’ homes come with live-in assistants, cooks, and housekeepers.
Church officials argue that many of these homes (which they own) are historical sites (read: not very easy to sell) that also double as offices and spaces for fundraising events. But even many college presidents, who have similar duties in that regard, live right on their campuses in more modest homes.
Given that Pope Francis lives in a modest Vatican-owned guesthouse, and the Church has been blasted for its priorities, wouldn’t it more sense for the Church to at least try to practice what it preaches?
Joanne McPortland, a Catholic blogger on Patheos, tries to defend the practice, even though she seems to understand this looks *really* bad:
Every archbishop on this list — every bishop in the world except, ironically, the Bishop of Rome, who has others to worry about this — sits in those meetings and thinks about [where they live]. And thinks about what you will think about it. And takes advice, and prays, and discerns, and chooses…
There is no best place, no best way for a bishop to live…
No one’s asking these Catholic leaders to live in a cardboard box. But how about using some moderation? How about living within their means? How about setting an example for people who are less fortunate than you and don’t have all this money at their disposal?
You may recall that one German Church official — dubbed the “Bishop of Bling” — was suspended last year after it was discovered that he spent $42,000,000 to renovate his home. Earlier this year, the head of the Newark Archdiocese was also blasted for using Diocese money to turn his home into a man cave.
It’s not just Catholics, either. Evangelical megachurch pastors like Steven Furtick have been in the news for similar reasons. In Furtick’s case, his secret salary and shady church dealings allowed him to buy a home worth nearly $2,000,000 which he claimed wasn’t even “that great of a house.” You can judge for yourself:
In the case of the Catholic Church, with the hundreds of millions of dollars required to atone for priests’ sexual abuse scandals, maybe they won’t even have the option of keeping all these opulent mansions.
But it would be nice if these archbishops at least pretended like they weren’t interested in the money.
(Thanks to Greg for the link)