The Catholic Church in San Jose bought one of its retiring bishops a $2.3 million home, but after extensive criticism he has decided not to move into it.
The Catholic Diocese of San Jose, which claims to have a mission of charity and serving the poor, recently confirmed that it bought a five-bedroom home for retiring bishop Patrick J. McGrath in Silicon Valley. The news was picked up by local papers, and even the Associated Press, which effectively forced McGrath to decline the gift.
Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, 73, acknowledged in an interview with the Mercury News of San Jose that the price tag is “a lot of money,” saying “I could understand” it might not sit well with some parishioners.
The nearly 3,300-square-foot (306 square-meter) home’s listing boasts of a “grand-sized chef’s kitchen,” “soaring ceilings” and “luxurious master ensuite” with a “spa-like marble bathroom” in a “Tuscan estate.”
After admitting the ridiculous nature of the purchase, McGrath had still planned to move in. But online outrage was ultimately too great, and he announced he would no longer take the home. Instead, he said, the Church would sell it. He said he “erred in judgment” and that he will now live in a rectory at one of their parishes.
I erred in judgment in the purchase of a 5-bedroom home for $2.3 million. I failed to consider adequately the housing crisis in this valley and the struggles of so many families and communities in light of that crisis.
I have heard from many on this topic and I have decided that I will not move into this house. The Diocese will put it up for sale as soon as possible; if there is any profit to the Diocese from that sale, those funds will be donated to Charities Housing, a division of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.
I assume full responsibility for this decision and I believe that the sale of the house is the appropriate action. I thank those who have advised me.
When I retire, I now intend to live in a rectory at one of our parishes.
McGrath said he assumed “full responsibility” for the home choice, but only after justifying the decision by saying he really wanted to stay in San Jose and that necessary retrofitting of a diocesan-owned house “proved to be too costly.” I doubt that cost was more than $2.3 million… but what do I know?
McGrath also mentioned that the Diocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors “approved the purchase of the home,” as if that makes anything better. (Has the Church learned nothing about using their own people to justify the bad decisions of their colleagues?) He even noted that the money was designated “for this sole purpose.”
While it’s hard to give McGrath credit for taking full responsibility — since he only did so after plenty of pushback — at least it’s the right outcome. It would have been extremely hypocritical to move into a multi-million-dollar home to retire while pretending to care about destitute people who need help. It makes you wonder what, exactly, he learned from his years of service.
May the house sell for the right price, and may that money actually go toward people who could use the help.
(Image via Zillow. Thanks to Jim for the link)