Saturday, February 14, 2015

Catholic Archbishops/Cardinals defy Pope Francis and live like kings: Catholic Nun says: “scandalous”

How many collection baskets does it take to hold $30 million for Dolan's house?

Ten archbishops in U.S. major cities live in homes worth more than $1 million – a lot more.  CNN had a hard time finding out what the homes cost because most of them are tax-exempt. There are also hundreds of retired and active Catholic bishops in smaller cities – some of them live as well and all of them better than those of us who have to pay property taxes and meet mortgage payments.

I wrote last year about how Newark parishioners pay for Archbishop John Meyer’s luxury retirement home (2/22/14 post) but there are others with more lavish lifestyles. It’s not just in the U.S. either: German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst – known as "The Bishop of Bling" was fired by Francis after spending $43 million to remodel his luxurious home – but we won’t know about others outside the U.S. until the media uncovers the statistics.

Although this pope doesn’t live in the Apostolic Palace like former popes his “small suite” in the Vatican guesthouse is not simple.
     Pope Francis' modest sitting room in the Vatican guesthouse where he lives

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York tops the list with this 15,000-sq.-ft. neo-Gothic mansion (see photo above) estimated at least $30 million. Situated on New York’s pricy Madison Avenue, it is filled with thick red carpets and priceless antiques. Dolan lives there with three other priests. 

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George lives in a $14.3 million mansion with 19 chimneys located on 1.7 acres of prime real estate in Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood. George’s private quarters are on the top two floors and he shares the residence with two bishops and a priest. Three nuns take care of the cardinal and his mansion (is this their calling?) – the nuns live in a 5,800-square-foot nearby coach house.

 Cardinal Francis Georges' mansion costs $14.3 - does that include the coach house?

Cardinals Dolan and Georges' excuses for living this way are that they need offices and room for guests and a place to hold fundraisers (to get money to support their lifestyles?). Why can’t the homes or money from their sale be donated to the poor – maybe the guests should be the homeless and money should go to abused children.

Where else do our donations go? In addition to the cost of these royal residences, there are live-in assistants, housekeepers, gardeners, chauffeurs and cooks to pay. Is this lifestyle necessary in order for these “men of God” to help the poor, feed the hungry, repair the damage done to abused children?

Here are some other archbishops living “high on the hog”:

Archbishop Leonard Blair: Hartford, Connecticut, in a nearly 9,000 sq. ft.  mansion worth $1.85 million.  

 Archbishop Thomas Wenski: Miami, 5,350-sq.-ft.  six-bedroom, six-bath house, over $1.38 million -- lives with his secretary, a priest, and has a tiki hut and pool in the backyard overlooking Biscayne Bay.
                                   Does Archbishop Wenski need to pray in a tiki hut?

Archbishop Robert Carlson: St. Louis, MO, 11,000-sq.-ft. castle-like mansion, worth $1.4 million, shared with his priest-secretary. Two nuns live on the property and cook and clean – what a great way to save money – free maids! Carlson also has a house in Estero, Florida worth $327,500 – a winter retreat?
 Archbishop Carlson doesn't waste our donations -- the nuns cook and clean his castle

Archbishop William Lori: Baltimore, MD, 11,500-square-foot building, worth about $1.24 million, lives with his priest-secretary and the rector of the Baltimore Basilica.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller: San Antonio, lives in a 5,000-sq.-ft. home, worth $1.1 million which includes a courtyard, a private chapel, a fireplace and a wet bar (for Communion wine?).

Archbishop Jose Gomez: Los Angeles, 26,000 sq. ft. rectory, worth $7 million, living with six priests.

The list goes on. There are no plans for moving any of these archbishops or other clergy out of their luxury accommodations. We keep supporting them so why should they worry?

Sister Sally Butler is a Catholic nun who ministers in Brooklyn, NY housing projects and has clashed with bishops over their response to the church's sexual abuse scandal.  She says that Catholics are a generous lot, but expect their donations to pay for missions like feeding the poor, training priests and educating students, “not keeping up multimillion-dollar estates”, she said according to a NY Times article. "It's scandalous!" said Butler, 83.

This misuse of funds --often from people who can’t afford it but want to do good works -- is truly scandalous. When will the catholic church stop lying to us? Add financial abuse to physical, emotional and sexual abuse that criminals in the church use against those of us who trusted them. Don’t believe all the talk about great reforms in the church – it’s still business as usual.