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Churchgoers 'Infuriated' at Spending on Archbishop's Lavish Home

Some parishioners are furious over the renovations at one archbishop's tony Hunterdon County property.

Archbishop John Myers/file photo
Archbishop John Myers/file photo

As the Roman Catholic pope makes headlines for his bold calls to austerity and humble living, one Newark archbishop is being skewered in the news for a half-million dollar addition on his weekend home in Franklin Township.

The archdiocese purchased the 8.2 acre "future retirement home" of John J. Myers for $700,000 in 2002 and is currently renovating the residence. When construction is complete, the home will boast two swimming pools, an elevator, a three-car garage, and stand at some 7,500 square feet.

Local parishioners are “infuriated” by the “tone-deaf show of excess” by Myers and the Newark Archdiocese and may stop donating to the organization, according to a report in the Star-Ledger. 

The more-than-$500,000 addition is occurring during the “archbishop’s annual appeal,” a time when the local archdiocese asks its 1.3 million parishioners in Essex, Bergen, Union and Hudson counties to open up their wallets to fund “an array of initiatives, including religious education, the training of future priests and feeding the poor,” the Star-Ledger reported.

A diocese spokesman told the newspaper that not a cent of appeal money would go toward construction at Myers's home and the project's costs were being funded by the sale of other church properties—namely, a NJ shore house once used by a retired cardinal and a disused Connecticut retirement home—and some undisclosed donations.

But the brouhaha comes at a time when New Jersey parents are seeing Catholic schools in the archdiocese close due to insufficient funding.

One Glen Rock churchgoer told the Ledger that he even went so far as to petition a high-ranking church official to pull Myers from his duty: “I am hopeful you might be able to communicate to our Holy Father the need to remove the archbishop from his position in Newark,” Kevin Davitt wrote.

The move wouldn't be unprecedented. 

Last year Pope Francis urged priests across the papacy to eschew more expensive, flashier transportation in lieu of more modest cars.

"If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world," Francis said in July 2013.

The pope, who has been driven around the Vatican City in a Ford Focus, has preached a consistent message of humility from the Holy See.

Late last year, the pope punished the bishop of Limburg, forcing him into an early retirement, for lavish renovations at his already palatial German home.

"Oh how I would like a poor church and a church for the poor," Francis said in 2013.

What do you think of the decision to renovate the archbishop's Franklin Township home? Tell us in the comments.

Bob March 31, 2014 at 11:26 AM
And now this scumbag Meyers is into tax evasion. A Star Ledger article in yesterday's paper detailed how the Newark Diocese is into selling cemetery monuments and stealing the business from the independents, all the while NOT paying the required taxes. This piece of garbage Meyers should be dragged from his office and thrown in the streets along with all the other garbage. I have sent information to the Pope. Meyers' MO of protecting child abusers, spending parishioner's money like it was his own, and now tax evasion is contrary to the beliefs of the Pope. If nothing is done about removing this scum of the church, then Pope Francis is just another nice old man with a nice white robe. I sincerely hope not!
sharon remtory March 31, 2014 at 12:17 PM
again, this is why I attend a Baptist church where the Bible is the emphasis and not the money...
donacey sam April 01, 2014 at 12:01 AM
The Scriptures show how true followers of Christ are supposed to conduct themselves and as leaders of the Congregation, they will be judged just as the Scribes and Pharisees were in Jesus day who mislead many.....Again, the point I was making is we should all look into God's Word for the truth and accept it's teaching..not just take the preacher's word at face value without confirming what the Bible says. Ephesians 5:10,11 states "Keep on making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord and stop sharing in the unfruitful works that belong to the darkness, rather, expose them for what they are"....
uncle albert April 01, 2014 at 02:37 PM
ATLANTA (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta apologized Monday for building a $2.2 million mansion for himself, a decision criticized by local Catholics who cited the example of austerity set by the new pope. Archbishop Wilton Gregory recently moved into a nearly 6,400-square-foot (595-square-meter) residence. Its construction was made possible by a large donation from the estate of Joseph Mitchell, nephew of Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With The Wind," the Civil War epic that made his family wealthy. When Mitchell died in 2011, he left an estate worth more than $15 million to the archdiocese on the condition it be used for "general religious and charitable purposes." Gregory said that he has received criticism over the spending in letters, emails and telephone messages. "I am disappointed that, while my advisors (sic) and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia," Gregory said in a column posted on the website of the archdiocesan newspaper, The Georgia Bulletin. "I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the Archdiocese who, though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services," he added. The Catholic leader said he will discuss the situation with several diocesan councils, including a special meeting of its finance council. If church representatives want the bishop to sell the home, Gregory said he will do so and move elsewhere. The purchase of the sprawling home was part of a real estate deal made possible by money from Joseph Mitchell's estate. In his will, Mitchell requested that primary consideration be given to the Cathedral of Christ The King, where he worshipped. The cathedral received $7.5 million for its capital fund and spent roughly $1.9 million to buy the archbishop's old home, according to tax records. Cathedral officials are planning to spend an additional $292,000 to expand Gregory's old home so its priests can live there, freeing up space on the cathedral's cramped campus. After selling his home, Gregory needed a new residence. The archbishop said that he made a mistake while designing a home with large meeting spaces and rooms for receptions and gatherings. "What we didn't stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed," Gregory said. He demolished the one-story home on Mitchell's property, which was donated to the church, and replaced it with a Tudor-style mansion. In January, a group of local Catholics met with the archbishop and asked that he sell the large home and return to his old residence. They cited the example of Pope Francis, who turned down living quarters in a Vatican palace and drives a simple car. "The example of the Holy Father, and the way people of every sector of our society have responded to his message of gentle joy and compassion without pretense, has set the bar for every Catholic and even for many who don't share our communion," Gregory said. ___ Gregory's column in The Georgia Bulletin: http://www.georgiabulletin.org/commentary/2014/03/the-archbishop-responds/
jojo April 01, 2014 at 11:01 PM
Mistake? Oversight? just a little

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