On the heels of the “Bling Bishop’s” removal by Pope Francis, another Catholic leader is under fire for lavish spending. Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory of Atlanta issued a public apology to Georgia Catholics on Monday for the building of a multimillion-dollar residence as reported in the Associated Press.
As Pope Francis gains in popularity, partially due to his behavior of simplicity, the faithful have begun to criticize those Catholic leaders that do not follow in the Holy Father’s footsteps. The Archbishop of Atlanta has recently been blasted for a mansion constructed for his use, which cost $2.2 million to build.
Archbishop Gregory, seen above with Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, 2005 was able to move into the 6,400 square foot residence thanks to the generous donation of Joseph Mitchell, nephew of author Margaret Mitchell, according to the Associated Press. The “Gone With the Wind” epic secured the Mitchell family’s financial fate. When Joseph died in 2011, he left $15 million to the Archdiocese of Atlanta to be used for charitable work.
The Archbishop of Atlanta has since received a multitude of messages that criticized his mansion, which prompted Wilton to apologize in the Catholic newspaper of Atlanta, "The Georgia Bulletin."
I am disappointed that, while my advisors 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. 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.
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. 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.
A bulk of Mitchell’s estate was intended for his home parish of the Cathedral of Christ the King that received $7.5 million for its capital fund. The extravagant mansion was part of a real estate deal that purchased the Archbishop’s old home that is to be expanded as a residence for priests.
The Archbishop of Atlanta is scheduled to meet with diocesan councils, and Wilton anticipates following whatever directives are applied to the mansion, which could include the sale of his $2.2 million home.
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