The Priorities of the Catholic Church

The New York Times has a report on the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, which is apparently so poor that it was forced to close down one of its schools. But not so poor that it can’t spend more than half a million dollars on an expansion for the retirement home of its current archbishop, which was already 4,500 square feet.

This new wing will have an indoor exercise pool, three fireplaces and an elevator. The Star-Ledger of Newark has noted that the half-million-dollar tab for this wing does not include architects’ fees or furnishings.

There’s no need to fear for the archbishop’s bank account. The Newark Archdiocese is picking up the bill.

Jim Goodness, the spokesman for the archdiocese, has the thankless job of explaining this. “The press says it’s a hot tub; it’s a whirlpool,” he says of one of the wing’s accouterments. “He’s getting older — there are therapeutic issues.”

The proceeds from the sale of other properties owned by the archdiocese, he explained, will pay for the expansion. “It is not going to cost our parishioners anything,” he said.

I felt compelled to ask: Couldn’t this half million dollars go to, oh, more meals for the homeless? “Any extra monies will go to the diocese,” he replied.

Pope Francis I has put the focus on serving the poor and on reducing the church leadership’s opulent lifestyles, including his own. And I believe he’s sincere about that. But if he is, this is a really good place to wield his authority and put a stop to it.

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  • bahrfeldt

    “The Priorities of the Catholic Church” are the priorities for most greedy people. Money and power. Being on top of a religious hierarchy just makes being a thief easier and safer.

  • Matt 5:5-6 ~ “Blessed are the Churchmakers, for their hot tub is in Heaven.

    And their hot tub on Earth is pretty sweet, too.”

  • Joseph Yaroch

    I happen to have been raised Catholic. Strayed from the flock, as they say. In any case, I can tell you that it is not always the case that priorities are misplaced. When I was about 8, a new Priest came to lead the congregation. The ladies in the church noticed that his suits were somewhat threadbare. They thought this was not proper. So my mother hosted an Irish Coffee social at our house. They raised about $300, which was real money in the mid-60s. This money was to go into a fund for a new wardrobe for the new Priest.

    The following Sunday, the Priest approached her and asked about the money he had heard she had raised. He said that that there was a mission in Nicaragua that he knew about, and they could really use some of the money down there.

  • Al Dente

    The Bishop of Newark was jealous of the German Bishop of Bling.

  • Jonny Vincent

    The proceeds from the sale of other properties owned by the archdiocese, he explained, will pay for the expansion. “It is not going to cost our parishioners anything,” he said.

    And those other properties came from? Seems like Christian Toddler Logic™. My parents would be able to translate. They were fluent, especially when they were confused. So much faith.

    “He that is able to hear it, let him hear it.”

    “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    “He works in mysterious ways.”

    He really doesn’t. His Ways are as mysterious as magical archdiocese-owned properties being sold that won’t cost the parishioners anything. A recently closed school, perhaps?

  • Seriously, the spokesdroid’s last name is “Goodness”?

  • In any case, I can tell you that it is not always the case that priorities are misplaced.

    Good thing you stopped by. I might have been left to believe the RCC does huge payout schemes to cover up rape crimes by their personnel.

  • hunter

    Kamaka @7: Are you kidding? They use any means they can think of to avoid paying damages to their victims — like putting everything in cemetery trust funds, for example.

  • Darkling

    Pope Francis I is also only one man and there’s the entire Church Bureaucracy that needs changing. It won’t happen overnight, if it happens at all.

  • Alverant

    You know, in light of another thing the RCC is funding, I can almost overlook this gluttonous home.

  • Erp

    If Francis is sincere and intelligent, he probably has to concentrate on the Curia first since unless that sty is cleared everything will quickly revert back to normal after he is dead.

    There are apparently around 5,104 Catholic bishops (this almost certainly includes retired ones) many of whom probably indulge themselves at least as much as this Newark bishop (though others seem to lead a more modest lifestyle). The German bishop, Franz Peter Tebartz-van Elst, 31 million Euro spree (even if his palace included offices) makes the Newark bishop seem modest.

    Part of the problem is that the particular hierarchical nature of the Catholic church means there are no checks and balances on the archbishop within an archdiocese except by appealing to the Vatican.

    Also there is no given that an abstemious bishop or archbishop would be any different than an indulgent one as regards church policy on gays, women, abortion, birth-control, or laity power (though he might concentrate more on poverty).

  • robnyny

    My very favoritest moment in all of this is Cardinal Weakland of Milwaukee saying that he didn’t know that raping children was a crime:

    “We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature,” Weakland says in the book, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church,” due out in June.

  • Robert B.

    This makes perfect sense. It’s not as though there are any people in need here in Newark – no need for food or shelter or education or anti-gang charities at all. Nope, everything’s hunky-dory here.

    To quote a line of a favorite author of mine – “I don’t like to be coarse, but if I did, I would be.”

  • spimpernel

    Something tells me that the pope has a whirlpool (hot tub) too.

  • @14:

    And a pool toy, er, I mean, pool boy.