Some Key Facts Everyone Should Know About the Archbishop’s Residence in Newark – UPDATED

An American “Bling Bishop”?

Wait: Maybe There’s Another Explanation.

In anticipation of the retirement of Newark’s Archbishop John J. Myers, the Archdiocese of Newark is remodeling a Hunterdon County house which is currently his weekend residence, and which will become his full-time home in retirement. Archbishop Myers is 73 ½ years old and already has in place a coadjutor bishop, Bishop Bernard Hebda; so it’s likely that his resignation will be accepted upon his 75th birthday in 2015.

A MEDIA FRENZY

On February 17, the New Jersey Star-Ledger published a front page story criticizing Archbishop Myers because of expensive renovations to the home.

On February 20, the New York Times carried an emotional op-ed by Michael Powell titled “A Church So Poor It Has to Close Schools, Yet So Rich It Can Build a Palace.”

Other newspapers and media outlets around the country have picked up the story.

And on the Internet this week, a number of faithful Catholic bloggers reiterated the questions raised by the Star-Ledger: whether the property was too large and too expensive for one retired bishop, when there are hungry people and when schools are being closed in his archdiocese.

These negative reports have been repeated without challenge by writers who might well have questioned the fine details, given the mainstream media’s penchant for inflammatory reporting on the Catholic Church.

BUT IS THERE AN EXPLANATION FOR WHAT SEEMS AN EXTRAVAGANT EXPENDITURE ON THE PART OF THE ARCHDIOCESE?

Archbishop Myers

I wondered about the veracity of the Star-Ledger‘s allegations of episcopal excess, given that newspaper’s well known animosity toward Newark’s Archbishop John Myers (they have published at least 34 articles critical of his leadership). To learn the answer to that question, I talked with Newark’s vice chancellor and director of communications Jim Goodness.

After talking at length with Mr. Goodness, I’ve concluded that the criticisms reflect the reporters’ serious misunderstanding regarding how an archbishop’s residence is used, and that the expenditure is reasonable.

But it’s not my purpose to tell you how to think.

Rather, I’d like to ask that you read the facts surrounding the planned expansion of the residence intended for Archbishop Myers’ use in retirement. Then, if you still disagree with the decision to modify the residence, please add your comments in a respectful manner. No flame-throwing, obscenity, or disrespect toward a leader of the Church will be permitted to remain in the combox.

I’ve identified several areas about which people have expressed concern, so have divided this article into several topic areas.

* * * *  *

WHY DOES ONE RETIRED MAN REQUIRE SUCH A SPACIOUS FACILITY?

He’s got to live somewhere! Archbishop Myers, after a lifetime of service to the Church, owns no personal property. Upon his retirement, he will move from the cathedral to a private home which will be provided for his use. The Archdiocese will retain ownership of the property, which may be sold in the future, should needs change.

The archbishop currently lives in the cathedral rectory with four other priests; and it seems likely that this new residence will also have more than one tenant, although no plans have been announced as yet.

In addition to private quarters, there is a need for space for meetings, social gatherings, and archdiocesan and other church functions. Archbishop Myers holds a number of posts within the Church, and he expects to remain active in these and other positions. For example, he serves on the board of the Catholic University of America (CUA); and as a canon lawyer, he serves on the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts., an advisory board to the Holy Father on matters of canon law.

IS THE PROPERTY TRULY EXTRAVAGANT, AS ALLEGED?

According to the Star-Ledger, the 4,500-square-foot home sits on 8.2 wooded acres in the hills of Hunterdon County. It has five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a three-car garage and a big outdoor pool. It’s valued at nearly $800,000, but it’s (snark brought to you by the Star-Ledger) “not quite roomy enough for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.”

The planned 3,000-square-foot addition is intended to accommodate Archbishop Myers into retirement. He suffers from serious rheumatoid arthritis, and the new wing will include an indoor exercise pool, a therapeutic hot tub, and an elevator, as well as a library and substantial office and storage space. The Archbishop’s office in the original structure was downsized when an elevator was installed in that space; the new wing will once again provide the Archbishop adequate work and study space in the home.

WHAT WILL THE RENOVATION COST THE ARCHDIOCESE?

Quick answer:  Nothing.  The project is being funded solely by private contributions which have been donated for this purpose.

The home which is the subject of newspaper speculation was actually purchased by the Archdiocese of Newark twelve years ago, using proceeds from the sale in 2002 of a more expensive home on the Jersey Shore. The Jersey Shore home which was sold in 2002 had a greater value than does the home which is currently being renovated, even when one includes the cost of landscaping and furnishings.

A statement released by the Archdiocese explains:

The current weekend residence and future retirement home of Archbishop Myers was purchased in 2002 with funds from the sale of a prior residence at the Jersey Shore that had been donated to the Archdiocese more than 20 years ago. The planned construction is being paid for by donations from individuals specifically given for this purpose, and through the sale of other residential properties that the Archdiocese owns but does not need. The sale of these properties is expected to not only pay for the construction, but also to return funds to the Archdiocese for other ministry uses. No parishioner funds or Archbishop’s Annual Appeal contributions are being used on this project. Similarly, no convents, schools or other Archdiocesan buildings are being sold to provide funding for this project. The Archdiocese does pay real estate taxes on this property.

HOW DOES THIS RESIDENCE COMPARE WITH THE RESIDENCES OF RELIGIOUS LEADERS IN OTHER DIOCESES?

An explanation of just how an “Archbishop’s Residence” is used may defray criticism and provide a useful framework for understanding the need for the current construction project. This is not an exhaustive review, but included here is information on archbishops’ residences from just a few dioceses in the Eastern United States.

Pittsburgh – Until 2009, the Diocese of Pittsburgh owned a Jacobethan Revival mansion along Fifth Avenue. Cardinal Wuerl lived there for two decades, as did his four predecessors. The 9,842 square foot mansion had 39 rooms including 11 bedrooms, six full baths and one half-bath, and was one of the largest homes in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The property was sold for more than $2 million in 2009, when Bishop David Zubik decided to live instead at the seminary.

Chicago - In Chicago, the historic Archbishop’s Residence on North State Parkway has been a landmark since 1885. In 2002, Cardinal Francis George suggested selling the $15 million mansion to help keep the deficit-laden archdiocese from closing more schools, or help pay sexual abuse settlements. Concerned that he should live more simply, the cardinal said, ”How can I call on my priests to display humility in their lives if I’m living in a mansion like that?” When reports of the Cardinal’s interest in selling were published in 2002, there were eight people living on the property: the archbishop and several household staff members, living in the mansion, and four nuns living in the adjoining coach house. The mansion, which has been home to seven archbishops, was never sold. Pope John Paul II and President Franklin Roosevelt are among the famous personages who have spent the night there.

Buffalo – In Buffalo in 2007, some Catholics urged Bishop Edward Kmiec to sell the 11,000-square-foot bishop’s residence. The bishop’s spokesman explained the significance of the bishop’s dwelling in American Catholic life: “It’s used extensively for pastoral meetings, as well as social functions,” he explained. “There’s no other place like this where [the bishop] can conduct the kind of business that’s conducted there.”

AtlantaThe Archdiocese of Atlanta has a new archbishop’s residence in the planning phase. The Archdiocese received a property on Habersham Road in the Buckhead neighborhood as part of the bequest of Joseph Mitchell, nephew of the famous author of “Gone With the Wind.” An existing structure on the property will be razed and a new two-story Tudor home will be erected. Again, it will be a multi-use property–with the top floor containing the archbishop’s private area, along with rooms for guests. For public gatherings, such as Christmas parties and other events with parishioners and priests, the architect designed a large living room and dining rooms. There will be a chapel which can seat up to 15 people; a patio links the house with an outdoor lawn.

IS ARCHBISHOP MYERS LIKE THE GERMAN “BLING BISHOP”?

Jim Goodness responded forcefully when I raised this question: No, this is a blatantly unfair comparison.

Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the German “bishop of bling,” was suspended by the Vatican after it was revealed that he had spent more than $42 million to renovate his luxury residence in the Diocese of Limburg.

In contrast, the Archdiocese of Newark is spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000—all privately donated funds intended specifically for this renovation.

WHAT ABOUT THE CLOSINGS OF SCHOOLS? COULDN’T THE MONEY HAVE BEEN BETTER SPENT ON EDUCATION?

Some critics have complained that the Archdiocese has been closing schools. How, they ask, can you invest $500,000 into a property when you are closing Catholic schools?

People forget that in recent years, the Archdiocese has been funding education, both as part of the Archdiocesan budget and through parishes, at a rate of $15 million per year. The lion’s share of that funding—which covers costs including salaries, lighting and heating, pension and health care benefits for teachers—has come directly from the Archdiocese.

Like other large cities, Newark has faced a changing demographic; and in some neighborhoods, the number of Catholic families with school-age children has dropped sharply. In many schools, the number of students enrolled continues to decline, even as costs increase. So, Goodness explained, a school which has experienced declining enrollments and now has only 100 or 120 students enrolled can cost $300,000 per year to operate.

During the same time period, the Archdiocese, guided by the New Energies Task Force, has been successful in keeping most parishes open. The total number of parishes in the Archdiocese has declined by only ten—largely due to mergers of neighboring parishes into a single, stronger parish.

WHY DOES THE STAR-LEDGER CONTINUE TO PUBLISH DEFAMATORY ARTICLES ABOUT THE ARCHBISHOP?

One of the “sore spots” has been the Star-Ledger‘s claim that Archbishop Myers mishandled the case of Fr. Michael Fugee, a priest accused of abuse. But did he?

Archbishop Myers was among bishops gathered in Dallas in 2002, and he voted with his brother bishops to ratify the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter.

Since the Charter’s implementation in 2003, auditors from StoneBridge Business Partners, specialists in investigatory and analytical business auditing, have conducted an annual on-site audit of the Archdiocese of Newark’s processes, procedures and records to determine whether it is in compliance with the provisions of the Charter. StoneBridge auditors seek to ensure that the Archdiocese will (a) ensure safe environments for children, (b) deal forthrightly and directly with allegations of abuse, (c) report allegations to public authorities, and (d) reach out to victims of abuse to help them heal.

Each year since 2003, the Archdiocese of Newark has been found to be in full compliance.  

A lengthy statement on the Archdiocese’s website explains the archbishop’s actions in the case of Michael Fugee; but Jim Goodness spoke of the case in our phone conversation. In 2009, he explained, following an eight-year period during which the priest had been accused and convicted, and then having that conviction overturned by a three-judge panel, Fr. Fugee was returned to ministry. After a thorough investigation by the Review Board, and at the request of the prosecutor, Fr. Fugee was placed in hospital ministry; he was never, however, returned to parish ministry where he would have access to children. The only rooms to which he was assigned were within the Chancery offices.

This was not, as the newspaper has alleged, a cavalier reassignment. Father Fugee was asked to sign an agreement stating that he would not be involved in youth ministry. Unfortunately, three years ago that Fr. Fugee had, in fact, been involved in working with youth; and when the Archbishop learned of that last year, he immediately took steps to permanently remove Fugee from ministry. The former priest has now been laicized.

However, the Star-Ledger embarked on a campaign alleging that not enough had been done.

In response to the news coverage of the Archbishop’s Residence renovations, the Archdiocese of Newark has published a statement on its website.  The full statement responding to the continuing criticism can be found here.

UPDATE

Okay, I’m aware that Archbishop Myers is getting beat up in the combox following this article.  Some readers may have specific, first-hand information to share; most do not.  There is a lot of griping about the Church going on.

So it was refreshing to wake this morning and to find Archbishop Myers cited by name in an article in the Catholic Herald, Britain’s Catholic newspaper, on the subject of vocations.  “Why,” the article asks, “do some dioceses have dozens of seminarians while others have none?”

Francis Phillips, book reviewer for the Catholic Herald, discusses a book by Christopher White and Ann Hendershott with the hopeful title Renewal: How a New Generation of Faithful Priests and Bishops Is Revitalizing the Catholic Church.  Phillips explains:

Studying dioceses and seminaries in the US, the authors’ theme is that dioceses that are committed to faithfulness and orthodoxy will attract young men to the priesthood. Bishops have a crucial role to play here, for “young people do not want to commit themselves to dioceses or communities that permit or simply ignore dissent from Church doctrine”.

So where do White and Hendershott look for an example of the kind of faithful orthodoxy that engenders priestly vocations?  According to Phillips:

If ordinations to the priesthood are an indicator of a healthy diocese, Archbishop John Myers of Newark, New Jersey, is doing a good job. In the appendices at the back of Renewal there is a list of ordinations by diocese from 2003 to 2011. Most of them, whether large or small, and allowing for the occasional spike in the graph, have a list of low single figures. Los Angeles, surely one of the larger dioceses, had six ordinations in 2011, up from three the year before. New York had four. Washington had five.

But Newark, a humbler diocese, had 18 ordinations in 2011 and double figures for almost all the previous eight years. So what is Archbishop Myers doing right that seems to be eluding many of his fellow US bishops? The authors suggest he offers strong leadership, orthodox teaching and makes vocations a priority. As Catholic author Walker Percy, quoted by the authors, states: “All that is needed is a bearer of the Good News who speaks of it with such authenticity that it can penetrate the most exhausted hearing.”

Let us, as the people of God, continue to pray for Archbishop Myers–that he will offer the kind of spirited leadership that will inspire and guide young men and women to serve  Christ’s Church with wholehearted dedication.

Archbishop Myers, like all of our Church leaders (and like us, too), is not perfect.  Where he is strong, let us look to him for graced leadership.  Where he is weak, let us not throw stones but instead hold him up in prayer.

In a 2008 commentary, Deal W. Hudson raised the question of whether faithful Catholics may publicly criticize bishops.  Yes, he said; but his explanation, drawn from canon law, would seem to renounce the kind of episcopal excoriation going on among some commenters.  Hudson explains:

Canon law contains three delicts that outline the lawfulness of responsible criticism of an ordinary. In my view, canon law does condone criticism, but within the boundaries of respect for authority and the principle of unity in communion.

The first canon acknowledges the right and duty to make “matters” known to pastors and, if deemed necessary, to others in the Catholic community.

Can 212§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

It’s important to note that this canon specifies that any comment regarding a bishop be made in “reverence.” Journalistic tone often matters as much as the substance.

The second canon specifies a recognition that any lay expertise, including journalism, should be exercised with “the spirit of the gospel” and within the Church’s Magisterium.

Can. 227. The lay Christian faithful have the right to have recognized that freedom which all citizens have in the affairs of the earthly city. When using that same freedom, however, they are to take care that their actions are imbued with the spirit of the gospel and are to heed the doctrine set forth by the magisterium of the Church. In matters of opinion, moreover, they are to avoid setting forth their own opinion as the doctrine of the Church.

Finally, the third canon explicitly warns against anyone going to extremes by stirring up anger and hostility toward a bishop or the Holy Father. Hostile journalism can earn ecclesial punishment, which I am told came close to happening against a well-known Catholic newspaper several years ago.

Can. 1373. A person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry or provokes subjects to disobey them is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties.

 

  • UsedCatholic

    Archbishop Myers, after a lifetime of service to the Church, owns no personal property. Um, did he take a vow of poverty? I’m sorry, but will Catholic University of America, Washington DC be holding board meetings in Northern New Jersey? The ArchDiocese can spin this all it wants but this is MONEY GIVEN TO THE CHURCH (not to Myers personally) being used to build a Mansion beyond the ordinary needs of any retired person, bishop or otherwise.

    • Romulus

      No, Archbishop Myers is probably not bound by a vow of poverty. In any case, title to the house will never be in his name.

      That said, this provision for a retired archbishop does appear to be out of all proportion to his needs.

      • What rascal

        Please read Stonebridge business partners compliance audit of the church’s new procedures.
        The quote that says they were in compliance is a paraphrased statement from the church. Not from Stonebridge.
        Please read the report. All of the findings are prefaced that no parish level auditing was allowed as well as at least one archdiocese refusing the audit.
        To state that they were broadly found to be in compliance is certainly disputable.

    • DPierre

      You didn’t read the article.

      The donors *knew* that their money was *specifically* for the residence.

      • UsedCatholic

        DPierre, thanks for the ad hominem attack. I did read the article, and I know the donations were TO the CHURCH for the MANSION. Using the church as a tax deductible ATM passthrough for a MANSION doesnt make it right, even if you can find donors who think it’s a good idea. Myers could have asked them to donate to a school, homeless shelter or retired priests fund. Alternatively he could have asked them to pay for his MANSION personally and paid the gift and income taxes an ordinary person would.

      • Kathy English

        And why were the donors so generous? What did he promise them?

    • neil allen

      Catholics reward bishops that take the heat for their pedophile priest pals. Archbishop Myers hid and covered up for multiple pedophile priests, and was under heat for it as recently as last year. Check out his pals Fr. Fugee, Fr Ruane, Fr Medina. ANd those are just some of the ones we know about.

      Cardinal Law hid 200+ pedophile priests in Boston, and was rewarded with an amazing job heading up one of the most Beautiful churches in Rome.

      We should all be thankful to God for the internet, which will help us permanently record what the Catholic church does – the opposite of What Jesus Would Do.

      • Frank DeCapillas

        As I recall, Cardinal Law resigned at age 71, four years short of retirement age, at the height of the priest deviancy scandal. He was “kicked upstairs,” out of his archdiocese, out of his country, for a ceremonial role in Rome, way beyond the reach of those pesky process servers. I’m no fan of Cardinal Law, but I don’t think his Roman exile counts as a reward.

        • neil allen

          Believe what you want, but instead of going to prison, or being punished as Jesus said in Matt 18:6, he got to be the head of one of the most beautiful churches in the world – Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore.

          The rest of the world would have put Cardinal Law in prison. Jesus said to put him at the bottom of the ocean. Catholics did the opposite of What Jesus Would Do.

          Not even debatable.

          • ahightower

            Has the US tried to extradite him for trial? Has the Vatican refused cooperation?

        • Kathy English

          It would not be my choice, but I’m sure it beats prison, where I believe he belongs.

  • Kim Whelan

    I had a feeling it was a grudge holding reporter. Thank you for giving us the facts. I suppose those who still believe this is wrong and would be happier with his retiring to the Jersey Shore in a more valuable living space?

  • Ben

    There’s little doubt Fr Fugee was mishandled, and when it was brought to the diocese attention they reacted by lashing out at critics then belatedly doing what they should have done in the first place. Bishop Myers could try a little humility instead of lavish living. The Bishop is supposed to be married to his diocese. If I live like a king while my wife eats balony sandwiches how do you think that would go over?

    • neil allen

      You should worry more that the Bishop lives like a king after his buddies had sex with your children, and they all got away with it, using the power of their lord.

      Everything else is just baloney….

      • Barb

        Right on Neil!

  • cececole

    I think Ab Myers should take his example of how to live in retirement from Pope Benedict perhaps? Or from Pope Francis who lives in Santa Marta and says it pains him when he sees priests with expensive cars? Or my own Ab Chaput that sold the Ab residence and shore property putting the money back into the church? This is wrong, doesn’t matter that private donors are paying. Yes, mainstream media are often unfairly critical and just plain wrong about our Church. Fr. Fugee mess aside–I look at this housing matter as it stands on its own. Being familiar with the area, let me tell you that this is a “ritzy” area, very class. A luxurious retirement residence in an upscale community is not seemly.

  • John

    First, it is inaccurate to state that the addition will cost the archdiocese “nothing.” The statement makes clear that some funding is coming from the sale of other property of the archdiocese – if there was no addition, the archdiocese could spend the proceeds from that sale on other expenses.

    Second, since you bring up the Fr. Fugee case, it is misleading to state that his conviction was overturned without acknowledging that he confessed to sexually groping a teenage boy.

    • Joyfully

      …and “nothing” is ever given without strings attached. The donors, anonymous to us (though surely the bishops is well acquainted with them), expect to get something out of it. We know grace cannot be bought. What are they trying to influence by this generous “donation.”

      I appreciate Kathy sharing and comparing to the other bishops residencies. It further confirms that they, too, are in need of a bit of re-dressing, so to speak.

      Who precisely will the bishop be “entertaining” upon his retirement? How many of us “regular” pew-sitting Catholics have had the honor of an invitation to functions at their local bishops homes? If it is “business entertainment” shouldn’t it take place at well established and more public Church properties?

      I know a great deal of fundraising is accomplished at private functions, but I would hope those donating in this day and age would have the God-given intelligence to understand that our Church needs transparency as much as their money to be able to the great Works that it does. If they are donating for the “right and just” reasons then they do not need to be entertained privately. If the Church cannot raise large sums of money because they can’t get the donations without continuously entertaining the wealthy, they we will have to become more creative with the funds we do raise.

      A retired bishop can live very comfortably with a more modest home that has a small apartment for a housekeeper. He can have friends and family visit and stay in a home with two modest guest rooms and bring additional staff as necessary.

      So much for us being the “suffering Church” and offering it up.

      I’d like to believe that all is hunky-dory but it reeks of excessive something.

  • Danny

    Nope, not convinced. Perception is reality folks, and this house just does not pass the straight face test for a person looking in from the outside. My folks lived a long, hard earned life and raised eight kids. They live in a 900-square foot modular home we built for their retirement. No pools. No hot tubs. Not separate “entertaining spaces”. Live simply so that others may simply live. You know what really made me see through this charade? The pic of the good archbishop with his expensive white shirt with cuff links. It may sound petty, but a good test of a man is the shirt he wears. Virtually every excessive-laden, materialistic priest I have ever known always wore cuff links. I wouldn’t even know where to buy a shirt with cuff links. Certainly not Walmart where me and the other peasants shop.

    • kathyschiffer

      I’ve been in Santa Marta, where Pope Francis lives, and I’ve seen the Mater Ecclesiae across the Vatican Garden, where Pope Benedict lives. Both are larger than this property. Actually, so is the Apostolic Palace, where Benedict lived during his papacy. But in each case, the man had what amounted to a small studio apartment within a lot of administrative space. No one in this discussion is hearing that.

      • dd

        How is that comparable? The Vatican and its history and other special status compared to the bishop in NJ? Is that a fair comparison?

        • Chesire11

          Besides which, the Pope isn’t retired, and the Casa Santa Marta is a hostel housing many visitors to the Vatican. A retired Bishop, and a handful of priests do not need such a massive residence in retirement.

      • craig

        It’s worth noting that those properties were not built recently for
        either pope’s use. The Church used to wield secular authority and so it
        was (ill-advisedly) considered normal in the Old World for bishops to
        live equivalently to secular princes. But it was a bad witness then for
        clergy to live like their worldly peers. It is a worse witness now for bishops to live like CEOs, seeing as how they don’t have anything to run except the Church.

      • Moleebo

        They absolutely refuse to hear it! It is like an addiction, they need a witch to burn, like a heroin addict needs heroin.

      • Thomas Gallagher

        Actually we’re hearing you loud and clear, and you’re making the best possible case for Abp. Myers. But his mansion fails the smell test, and oh, so many of the commentators on this website have good noses.

        • Kathy English

          But thanks to the author for reminding us of how many of these “holy” men live in ridiculously luxurious homes, just more hypocrisy. Anyone who gives to their appeals is enabling this.

          • Thomas Gallagher

            Are you suggesting we give nothing, to any agency of the Church? The problem is not the giving, but the fact that we don’t know, when we give, where the money will go. If all bishops implemented the openness and full disclosure that Pope Francis wants them to implement, then we could give to this, and withhold from that. Wow. Wouldn’t the effect be electric? Then we’d see how much was actually being given to triumphalist bishops.

          • Kathy English

            Yes, you are right. Between the abuse scandals, the meddling in politics, and this financial disgrace, the givers are being had.

          • Thomas Gallagher

            What, in God’s name, do you mean by “meddling in politics”? Our bishops do a lot of wrong things: the sex abuse coverup, the triumphalist living in mansions and driving around in fancy cars, the reckless implementation of liturgical reforms, resulting in the outright abuses we see in “hootenanny” guitar Masses.

            But they don’t “meddle” in politics. They guide us as to how to search our consciences when we vote, and they lobby tirelessly for Christian causes: the protection of the lives of the unborn and the elderly, the right of Catholic hospitals and nurses and physicians to follow their consciences in matters of contraception and abortion, etc. etc. etc. They have been heroic political witnesses, and without telling us in specific terms how we should vote.

          • Kathy English

            But many of them have been telling their flocks how to vote, and threatening them if they vote the “wrong” way. The tax exempt should leave politics well alone.
            “Hootenanny” guitar Masses? You’re kidding with that, right?

          • Thomas Gallagher

            It’s really time for you and me to end this correspondence.

          • Kathy English

            It is, Thomas. Have a wonderful day, and I sincerely want to thank you for “hootenanny guitar masses.” I’m still giggling.

          • Danno

            If they do not pay taxes they have no business meddling in politics. You forgot about the wonderful support against child safety laws.

      • dave T

        Wow, you are making a lot of excuses for someone who should be living more like a pauper, and less like a prince.
        As someone else noted, just because a few others have abused their privilege even more….doesn’t make it right for AB Myers to live in a retirement home more suited for a multi-millionaire CEO than for a priest.

    • Sarah S.

      This seems petty. French cuff shirts are easily available for no more than regular button-at-the-wrist shirts. My husband owed a couple that were purchased for him at a thrift shop. I have to wonder if the Holy Father would not prefer for us to focus on our own lives and practice of self denial and poverty, rather than being so anxious that others are not living up to what we imagine his ideals to be.

      • Moleebo

        Excellent Point Sarah!!

      • Imperious Dakar

        Actually as an outsider let me say that that can make things worse…
        Because when both priests and lay Catholics lives of excess that merely makes the Catholics involved appear insincere.
        But when lay Catholics live simple lives of self denial and priests live lavish lifestyles off the donations of such people, it makes Catholicism look like a scam.

      • dave T

        Perhaps your advice of practicing self denial and modest living…is advice that Myers himself should take.

    • DPierre

      “Perception is reality.”

      Really?

      • Guest

        Bo excuse! Yes I read the article.

      • Tim Heller

        No excuse! Yes i read the article. Stop using your position to make excuses for our Catholic Church hierarchy spending that kind of money for his retirement residence. I don’t care where they money came from. Pope Francis has shown a different way. Why can’t our US prelates follow suit?

  • AnneG

    Did y’all complaining even read the article?

    • craig

      You are correct: I should have read it more closely. If I had, I would have noticed that the *existing* house is 2x the square footage of my house. The archbishop’s “needed” addition is an additional 1.5x the square footage of my house. Apologies for the misunderstanding.

      • Biff Spiff

        So it’s an envy thing, then?

        • dd

          Why the rash judgement?

        • craig

          Just pointing out that I have enough where I am. I don’t need any more space. And when I finally retire (OK, if — I’m Gen X and Social Security will be long gone by then), I don’t think I’ll be looking to up-size then.

      • AnneG

        Craig, i guess what bothers me most is the urgency to jump on the bishop because of the house. There may be things going on we don’t know about. I’ve learned that we have really holy men as clerics and some real scoundrels as well. I have been trying to learn to avoid rash judgment on anybody, even imperfect bishops.
        Btw, it’s bigger than my house, too. I don’t care.

        • Kathy English

          I myself am more inclined to jump on the bishop for his lack of oversight for pedophiles, or for his political maneuvering against the gay people. But this very nearly as bad, in light of the school closings, etc.

    • Kathy English

      Did you?

  • DeaconsBench

    By way of comparison: according to the US census, the average size of a single family home in the Northeast in 2010 was 2,613 square feet. The archbishop’s retirement home, when completed, will be about three times that size.

    • DPierre

      With all due respect, Deacon … Did you actually read the article?

      • Guest

        7500 sq ft (the size of the archbishop’s residence after remodeling) is indeed approximately three times that of the average size of a single family home in the Northeast. Did YOU read the article, or were you having trouble with the math?

        • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

          Did you read it? The living quarters are not 7500 sq ft: “The planned 3,000-square-foot addition is intended to accommodate Archbishop Myers into retirement.”

          And:
          “In addition to private quarters, there is a need for space for meetings, social gatherings, and archdiocesan and other church functions.”
          I don’t think given the cost of living in NJ that what’s being spent here is outrageous. It’s in line with costs for the area.

          • Kathy English

            No, part of the additional square footage is for the hot tub, elevator, three fireplaces, etc.

          • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

            I’m not sure if you’re agreeing with me or arguing with me, but I thank you kindly. :)

      • Megan Ryan

        I don’t understand how that response furthers the conversation? I see that all the time and it’s meaningless. It’s a passive aggressive putdown for someone who has nothing relevant to say.

        The fact is, the Church doesn’t need these kinds of extravagances. If the Holy Father can live in a modest apartment, so can a retired Archbishop, or a serving Archbishop. This does nothing but reinforce everything that is seen as wrong with the Church and it does nothing to further the mission of the Church.

    • Deacon Michael Brainerd

      Deacon, Your comparison is accurate mathematically but if math is the only criteria for assessing this situation then we have to ignore or dismiss all other considerations. For example, all those people who have average size homes use all of those 2600 feet as personal living space. This is not the case here. Also, he is not going to be whiling away the hours watching The Price is Right. He will continue to be in active service to the Church in capacities he is not being forced to retire from. It is true that the Arch -bishop provides an easy and inviting target but sometimes when the target is too easy to hit it is worthwhile holding our fire until we determine that the easy target is also the correct one.

      • fredx2

        Yes, but Pope Francis, when he was an archbishop (an active, not retired archbishop) lived in a modest apartment in Buenos Aires. Why didn’t he need several thousand square feet for meetings etc? Presumably any of these meetings can take place elsewhere, they don’t have to be at his home. I ordinarily do not begrudge clerics their simple pleasures, but we are in a new age now, where the church is to be poorer. Does he really need 8.2 acres? I doubt there is any justification for this unless the place is to be a place where several people live. As I understand it, the place has a swimming pool, too. That is a luxury.

        • Deacon Michael Brainerd

          I agree that on the surface of it these accommodations may give an appearance of impropriety or that those appearances may indeed be accurate. I am just unwilling to jump on the bandwagon with the usual cadre of Catholic bashers or even disgruntled Catholics without more information about how necessary or unnecessary these improvements are. For me the jury is still out since almost everything we see here in second hand at best.

      • Ben Cabell

        I am not a catholic. I am secular, but I do have a charity in Philippines where culture and society is dominated by the catholic teaching. It always saddens me that even people who cannot feed their own children, if they are “blessed” to have a visit from the priest, will give the last peso so that they can purchase Kentucky Fried Chicken and Duncan Doughnoughts for feast for the Priest. The church resists all efforts to limit the population and will only allow “natural birth control” even as the suffering of the poor expands with each new child. In the US it is not such a big deal, I am hoping you will take a cue from the new pope who does appear to care more for the poor. No large organization an be perfect, but if catholic teachings are correct, I believe we will all be held accountable All I can say is, I am glad to be one of you..

        • kathyschiffer

          Mother Teresa, who lived among the poorest of the poor, said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.” I believe that, too, Ben–and I believe that children are a nation’s greatest treasure and greatest hope for the future. A nation (like the U.S.) which limits its children through birth control or kills them through abortion will face hardship in the next generation.

          We in America are beginning to experience the problem of insufficient workers to support the older generation via Social Security, or to buy the cars which are manufactured here. In the years to come, that will become even more evident.

          Having said that, I don’t mean to imply that the only “value” of a person is the nation’s prosperity. Children are a gift from God. To willfully say, “No, I have enough gifts. Take this one back” is morally wrong, selfish and short-sighted.

          • Ben Cabell

            There is no empirical evidence to support the notion that countries with large populations are more prosperous, but for the sake of argument, lets just say Jesus wants these peasant women to bear 10-15 children who they cannot feed. What would he have us do with these baptised, roman catholic “gifts”? More More than 10,000 catholic children are struggling for survival in the garbage dump of Manila, 1000′s of roman catholic children are working as prostitutes to avoid starvation? I submit that much of this misery is exacerbated by Catholic dogma and the perception that suffering on earth leads to salvation. In any event as a purported “Christian” how can you make any argument for a church leaders swimming pool when so many BAPTISED ROMAN CATHOLIC CHILDREN CAN’T EAT

            We are nondenominational, Christian’s, Jews and non religious, however we all agree, that when we are allocating our own resources we must tell ourselves, every time we waste a quarter a child will not eat. This is the advice I give to you.

    • neil allen

      He may need the 5 bedrooms to hide and protect the 3 child sex offender pedophile priests and the other priest-attempted-rapist (who broke into a house and tried to rip the clothes off some woman), or other priest criminals that we don’t even know about, because the Catholic church has spent our lifetimes hiding the truth about their criminals.

      Catholic leaders just continue to show you how to do the exact opposite of What Jesus Would Do for as long as you can get away with it.

      P.S. did anyone make sure there are no children in this neighborhood??

      • kathyschiffer

        Neil, you’ve got about fifteen minutes to clean up your attacks or be banned from this site. If you’ll read my article, I warned there would be no tolerance for flame-throwing. I pray that God touches your heart.

        • Kathy English

          I’m praying that God touches John Myers’s heart, if he has one. And that God opens your eyes.

    • Cthulhu0818

      I’m 51, with post op arthritis, a plate and 9 screws in my hip, a ruined lower back and live in constant pain that I have to take morphine for just to have some semblance of a normal life.
      And I live in a 500 sq. ft., one bedroom walk up apartment. No hot tub, no swimming pool, no goodies of any kind. I too, spent my life in public service in the military and law enforcement.
      But this greedhead deserves all his amenities, I’m sure.

      • rcofdayton

        Cthulhu0818, I wish you the best. Thank your for your service. I don’t begrudge arthritis sufferers because they have a hot tub. As one who has arthritis, I know how beneficial they can be.

    • nannon31

      Isaiah 5:8. ” Woe to you that join house to house and lay field to field, even to the end of the place: shall you alone dwell in the midst of the earth? ”

      i think the unfortunate answer is yes.

  • craig

    I’m sure New Jersey has plenty of high-rise condominiums that already have elevators, indoor pools, and so forth. For that matter, plenty of 70-year-olds with arthritis manage to get by without needing 2x the square footage of my family’s home and 20x the acreage. Space for occasional meetings and parties could be rented at nearby hotels and business conference facilities.

    Except for donations specifically given for this purpose, whatever is spent on this is a misallocation of funds belonging to the whole diocese. Selling diocesan properties to fund this, even in part, is stealing the accumulated contributions of the faithful to benefit one man.

    • kathyschiffer

      Perhaps you misunderstood. The Archdiocese under Abp. Myers sold large properties used by former archbishops (incl. now-Cardinal McCarrick) and downsized, buying this property which was smaller. One can argue that archbishops should not have had huge mansions in the past–but again, I think it has to do with a commingling of personal and business life.

      Now, Abp. Myers has some special needs and a donor (or group of donors), probably Legatus members, came forward to fund the remodeling in its entirety. There has been no positive outlay on the part of the Archdiocese at all. None. Nada.

      • John

        Kathy, the statement says that only part of the funding came from donors – and it says part of the funding came from the sale of unneeded property. So there was positive outlay by the Archdiocese to fund the remodeling.

      • John

        From the Archdiocesan statement: “The planned construction is being paid for by donations from individuals specifically given for this purpose, and through the sale of other residential properties that the Archdiocese owns but does not need.”

      • Chesire11

        The properties belonged to the Archdiocese. When they were sold, the proceeds became income, which was then expended upon first the purchase of a weekend residence larger than my home, and then for an expansion larger than my home. That is using diocesan funds that could have been applied to other needs for a grossly indulgent purpose.

      • Anna

        Kathy, what about the cost of heating and cooling. Do you know how much electricity it takes to run a hot tub, indoor, pool, and outdoor pool, on to of other utilities for a house that size? I live in AD of Newark and our local parishes and priests are taking a lot of heat for this. It’s not fair, it was not their decision. Like I said, I’m a conservative, I’m not into the class warfare stuff, but this over the top. I have to call a spade a spade.

      • Anna

        I understand he needs workspace….but can’t he convert one of the 5 bedrooms into an office….?

      • Anna

        I livei in AD Newark….we have LOTS of abandoned convents, rectory space, schools that are vacant….none of these could be used for the Bishop’s residence? And he had a nice house….adding an addition was the wrong move, how can he not know this would cause bad press?

      • Anna

        One last point, why would he accept donations to increase his already large house, when there are so many in dire need. That money could save lives by providing shelter for pregnant women in crisis. What Good Counsel Homes could have done with that money?

      • nannon31

        That’s because you see the past property sold as belonging to the Archbishop’s will and not the
        diocesan people’s will. Did the donators know the details of this property? We won’t know until Goodness actually details the process minutely and that would be in alignment with the transparency Benedict called for in one of his last encyclicals.
        Would Goodness have employment at all if he provides minute detail? Myers axed a high level priest quickly in his last sex abuser dilemna. Did donators think they were funding a building for one man or were they told it would ” soon” be a group home? Here’s Vatican II on Bishop homes:

        DECREE ON THE MINISTRY AND LIFE OF PRIESTS
        PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS
        PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS,
        POPE PAUL VI
        ON DECEMBER 7, 1965
        ” Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Savior and sent him to evangelize the poor,(53) priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away. Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions. Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them.”

        • Danno

          Very,very well said!

      • Frank DeCapillas

        If I were ever to donate real property to an American diocese, I would stipulate in the deed that if the property ceased to be used by the diocese for church purposes, it would revert to me or my estate. The donors gave the Shore house to the Archdiocese for the use (R&R) of the archbishop and his successors; they didn’t give it so that a future ordinary could cash it in for a larger place.

        • Paula DeLuca

          Archdiocese has owned this house since 1980 up in CT where it served as a vacation residence for retired Abp Gerety when he was still active. Purchased with some of the proceeds from sale of a former primary Archbishop’s residence in West Orange, NJ (church money) in which prior prelates Boland and Walsh had lived. Rest of the money from that sale went to pay down Archdiocesan debt, according to the official statement, and Gerety moved into Rectory of the Cathedral in Newark. His bio says he was the first to reside in Newark. The tradition of Newark AD supporting secondary weekend getaway residences for prelates dates only to 1980, but Gerrety, McCarrick and Myers have all indulged it with homes outside the geography of their AD. No church purpose = no tax exemption. Property taxes of $13,500 for CT house, property taxes of $19,000 for Hunterdon house, unknown (past) property taxes for McCarrick’s Jersey shore house sold in 2002 to finance purchase of Myers’ house. http://appraisalonline.newcanaanct.gov:8080/showparcel.php?p=12771

      • Kathy English

        Did the properties sold not belong to the diocese? And is the diocese not the people? Whitewash it anyway you like, maybe he’ll invite you for a swim.

      • Danno

        Nice try Kathy, If Jesus was here, do you really think he would make us call him His Grace, and would Jesus live like this?
        NO WAY

      • Chris Andersen

        Money is the ultimate “fungible.” A donation made to build an extremely comfortable retirement home is a donation that could be used to feed the hungry. I could donate funds so the bishop could get a Tesla, or wear a gold crown. Would he accept that just because funds didn’t come from the diocese? The bishop and you need to wake up and smell the coffee. We’re trying to get back to where bishops are servants of the people, not princes of the church.

  • Bill

    A note of the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s Bishop’s residence. The mansion was donated to the diocese by its first owner. The diocese dis not purchase it.

  • Sallie Matonis

    Peoria Illinois was my hometown & diocese. It is still paying off a fortune in debt for then Bishop Myers’ poor judgment (to put it charitably) with regard to priests & sexual abuse issues. I think he has hurt the Church alot in his service.

  • Florian

    Diocesan Priests do not take a vow of poverty; however, I think it is unseemly for Priests or Bishops to live in a luxurious home expecially during times of economic struggles for people who give money to the local Churches. And why did the Bishop need a ‘weekend’ residence…so many are homeless or are living in poorly heated, run down homes…I believe that all Priests and Bishops should take some form of the vow of poverty…to live simply even as Pope Francis does.

  • HeavenHelpUs

    I have rheumatiod arthritis, as do other members of my family including my very elderly mother. My therapy is a hot shower in the morning, my mother takes limited baths in her ancient apartment’s worn out bathtub, she doesn’t even have a shower. My mother was one of eight children, she had seven children herself. I have nine children. No therapeutic hot tub ever in my life for me, no indoor exercise pool either. Why can’t the Archbishop join a health club like everyone else? Or move to an assisted living residence? What is this Archbishop thinking? And the diocese did use diocesan funds for this residence. It took a house donated in 2002 and sold it to purchase this home. This is stealing from the people in the pews.

    I struggle to send my children to Catholic schools. When I read things like this, the end result is that when the Bishops Annual Appeal rolls around each year, I throw the mail in the trash.

    These are the sorts of priests that the Blessed Mother warns us about.

    • DPierre

      Good grief. Did you actually read the article?

      The donors *voluntarily* gave their money *specifically* for this residence.

      I hope your arthritis gets better.

      • Peggy

        All mortal sin is done “voluntarily” too. It can also be a mortal sin to accept someone’s donation or to use it for improper purpose, even if the donor is willing to give it for that purpose.

      • neil allen

        Who are these “mystery donors”? Could it be other Catholic diocese, with a promise the NJ would pay them back?

        Of course, Cardinal Dolan in NY lied about paying $20,000 severance packages to pedophile priests, and was exposed in a New York Times article. If Dolan lent the money to NJ, he would be a “private donor outside the archdiocese”, and it wouldn’t be as dishonest as when the NYT discovered that he was lying about paying severance packages to his pedophile priest pals.

        Of course, it would be dishonest in the eyes of a Christian, and in the eyes of God, and in the eyes of the NJ congregation.

        Could it be a loan from the Philadelphia archdiocese, where Cardinal Bevilacqua, Bishops Cullen & Cistone, and 2 other priests shredded the evidence about 35 known pedophile priests back in 1994? They weren’t officially “lying” when they shredded the evidence, so it isn’t “lying” if Philly is the private donor.

        Good grief, though. Or really, really bad grief.

        • kathyschiffer

          No. It’s not another diocese. You make up this whole fantasy scheme, then use it to accuse the diocese of impropriety.

          • cordy fan

            Kathy,
            Wiki has Hunterdon County in the Metuchen Diocese and its description of Newark diocese does not include it.
            ps it’s a suffragan diocese wherein if their Bishop dies suddenly, Newark’s Archbishop rules it in the interim but ordinarily he has no canonical right to intervene there.

      • Kathy English

        I wonder why the donors were so generous. What did the archbishop do to deserve such largesse? Surely their money could have been better spent, unless it was in payment for something.
        Perhaps for Myers’ services rendered in attacking the gay community.

        • 02000

          Kathy English aka Moron.
          Please remove your Rainbow Colored Glasses. Not every news story is about your Sexual orientation or preferences. And for the record, I also think this Bling Bishop does my Lord and my Church no good service.

          • Kathy English

            How dare you speak to me this way? I was talking politics.

      • FixtheLaw

        DPierre, there you are, I was wondering how long it would take you to come to AB Myers defense.
        Look, Bishop Gerety lives in the local priests retirement home in an apartment. There are all kinds of facilities for meetings at Catholic Universities and Archdiocesan schools. This simply doesn’t wash, it is extravagant, and offensive to the people he is here to serve. Many of practicing catholics have said so, yet we still want to blame the media or justify his actions because other Church leaders had even bigger residences. PLEASE! The sale of any church property…property that was either donated or purchased by donations is STILL a donation. People count on our church leaders to do the right thing with such contributions. Would you donate to a charity if you knew the CEO was using donations to live in a house better than most people can live in? Probably not. Plain and simple this was at the very least selfish and foolish.
        As hard as you and others may try there is simply no defending such actions. As far as the article above, the usual tactics have been deployed, attack the media, justify, because other Bishops had larger residences, tell partial truths, such as the Fr Fugee case, he wasn’t to live in a parish (not just work in one), he was placed there with the knowledge of Archdiocesan Leadership, he attended retreats, worked a youth group and heard children s confessions while in the company of other priests, at least 1 also from the Newark Archdiocese, and you expect everyone to believe the AB had no idea? In January when the paper ran an article about Fr Fugee’s promotion to Director of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests. How is it the Archbishop didn’t ask him then what he had been up to before writing a letter to all the priests of Newark AD, blasting the press and defending Fr Fugee’s ability to hear confessions (he was supervised, children were never alone) work with children? And yes the Star Ledger and other papers have certainly written many articles about AB Myers actions, but what Miss Schiffer failed to mention is how many were also positive and had nothing to do with scandal? Fr Fugee was set to be retried…not cleared, then a deal was cut, signed by Archdiocesan officials, no one bothered to check that Fr Fugee was actually complying with what they promised the court. Living up to a weak and watered down charter is NOT the issue here, Abiding by the law of this state was, and clearly Fr Fugee was NOT in compliance, and the Diocese also failed to ensure he was in compliance as well.

  • ahightower

    Google up the incomes and homes of some nonCatholic megachurch leaders. Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, etc etc etc. I know it’s a lame defense, and not really the point. But the archbishop’s residence is relatively modest. Nobody is scandalized when wealthy layman who tithe regularly enjoy nice homes, to say nothing of retired presidents or benevolent tech billionaires. Why must a man who’s given his life in service to the Church live in a “middle class” neighborhood? I for one feel the bishop does deserve a nicer home than I have. And who says the Church has to sell off all appreciating assets until there are no more hungry people on earth? The poor you will always have with you.

    That said, it might be better PR if it was called, “The Diocesan Retreat and Conference Center”, and the retired bishop, and other retired clergy, had modest apartments and offices therein. Seems the Church could maintain its valuable holdings for long term benefit without appearing immodest.

    • dd

      Do you think the current Pope would agree with you?

    • nannon31

      An Ecumenical Council ( see way above) disagrees with you….and probably retired nuns do also who work just as hard or harder than Bishops all their life. The taxes yearly will probably be 26K and that will be from laity who since the articles will give less now. The landscaping and maid bills will be high too. Millions in the northeast now have one more reason to hold the Catholic Church in suspicion….if they were getting over the previous scandals. Donators? Was a letter sent to wealthy Catholics that provided details about the house or did the letter omit details and subtly imply normal accomodations for one person? We have no idea.

  • Gigi1952

    I don’t give a fig that no Archdiocesan money was spent. If this is destined to house other retired priests, or serve as a retreat center or similar, then they better get the word out, and quickly. Otherwise, this is a prime example of tone-deafness on the part of certain members of the Church hierarchy. I would love to hear Pope Francis weigh in on this. This is hardly in line with the Pope’s wish that bishops should “live simply.”

    • neil allen

      You don’t know what they mean when they say “no Archdiocesan money was spent” or that this was from “private donors”, since the Catholic church is famous for lying and stretching the truth. They lied and stretched the truth about their organized child rape – you think they won’t lie about money??

      They clearly haven’t done a full public accounting of all finances, which means the following:

      If Cardinal Dolan in NY (who lied when he gave $20K severance packages to known pedophile priests) says he’ll make a private donation to the New Jersey diocese, and there’s an understood agreement that NJ will give the money back to NY, then they can say (without blatantly lying, but with complete dishonesty) that it was done “by private donors with no money from the Archdiocese”.

      • Moleebo

        Dude you appear to be some kind of troll. You are as bad a trollas you were a relief pitcher. I can’t believe the Cardinals (St.. Louis Baseball Club) traded Keith Hernandez for you.

    • FixtheLaw

      This was never intended to be for the use of any other function other than AB Myers retirement home. The Archdiocese has owned the property since 2002 and no one was made aware of it or its purpose until, once again, the media disclosed such, not Mr. Goodness. Any money spent comes in some fashion from a donors pocket, and certainly that is the case when you choose to sell any property to fund this home. The AB could still have every amenity necessary for an ailing 73 year old cleric, hot tub included and still live in a modest apartment near an archdiocesan school or University, which could serve as an office and meeting place when necessary. Not even located within the diocese he was sent to serve?

      On a similar note has anyone asked how much was spent on renovating his current residence in Newark, after then Archbishop McCarrick had already renovated it? How much did it cost to build the new office space of the archdiocese and the AB’s office in the midst of one of the poorest communities in the state?

  • retired catholic

    not very convincing 7500 sq feet does not matter who is paying my mother has mobility issues and lives in an assisted living residence for 3500 dollars a month. if the bishop needs meeting space is there no church with this type of space?

  • Chesire11

    And yet, he is able to run the Archdiocese from a shared rectory. I understand that his medical condition, and advancing age require some accommodation, but I fail to understand why a retired bishop should require more room to fulfill his duties in retirement than an active bishop running an Archdiocese.

  • Cassandra

    Sorry, the excuses don’t hold up to cross-examination, and your “Billy’s bishop does it” justification only demonstrates that the problem is widespread in the episcopacy.

  • Paul H

    I appreciate hearing the other side of the story here, and certainly I suspected that the opinion piece I read about this in the New York Times might have been written by someone with an axe to grind against the Catholic Church.

    What I read here has put my mind at ease a bit more about the situation, but I still find it somewhat troubling. I don’t subscribe to the class warfare idea, where people get bent out of shape by how much money this or that CEO makes. But in my opinion, this property makes Archbishop Myers appear to be living extravagantly, and makes him appear to be out of touch with the average Catholic — or at very least it makes him an easy target for these kinds of accusations.

    For example, my wife and I just recently purchased an approximately 2400 square foot home, for our family of six. And I am sure that there are many other families out there who don’t even have that much space.

    I am grateful that Archbishop Myers has dedicated his life to serving the church, and I also understand that those who donated the money for this project probably did so out of similar gratitude. But to many people this situation is just going to look bad. I think that the archbishop probably should have chosen a smaller, more modest retirement residence, and asked that the donations be given for some other purpose.

  • donttouchme

    I’m old fashioned I guess but to me it doesn’t seem unreasonable to honor a retired archbishop this way. Pope Emeritus Benedict spent money remodeling that monastery at the Vatican to live in. It’s the same principle. For the same reason you would probably speak to him with more reverence than you would speak to your next door neighbor. It’s the same reason Padre Pio wouldn’t give blessings to archbishops but only wanted to receive blessings from them. It’s the same reason St. Francis kneeled before simple priests. It’s the same reason the priest you invite to dinner gets served first. Yeah, an archbishop ought to be humble and holy, but it’s not that good to dictate to them how they ought to live.

    • nannon31

      Benedict sold bestselling books which means, not being a religious order priest, he probably had millions in savings and paid his own way on the renovation.

  • oregon nurse

    I think the retired bishop needs to live in a separate simple residence on the same retirement income and medical insurance the rest of the clergy in the diocese get. The large home can become a diocesan meeting/retreat center (generating income for it’s upkeep) to which he can commute as needed. It will be better for him to be able to have a place to go away from his work. After all, isn’t that why he needed a weekend retreat to begin with, or was that just a story to pacify as well?

  • Nondignus

    Pope Francis lives simply. Why can’t Bishop Myers (and many other Bishops) emulate the “boss”? And, so what if some well heeled Legatus Members pick up the tab—their big bucks should be going toward big problems not an estate for 1 retiree. What’s the cost to maintain 8.2 acres? I’ll bet its 100 times more than in takes to maintain my 75 X 100 lot.

  • Joyfully

    Wowzers. Thanks to the moderators at New Advent I have just had the pleasure of view the “google maps” overview of the property in question, sans the new addition. Saweeet. So who gets invited to the pool parties and are bikini’s allowed?

  • kmk

    Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore lives in one of the Little Sisters of the Poor’s facilities in town. Before that, just after his retirement, he lived in another retirement home (run by Catholic sisters–can’t remember whom) because they had some rooms that he was able to use for meetings and receptions.

  • Anna

    Therapeutic hot tub? LOL, interesting spin…. I think most of us over 30 could use one of them. Wouldn’t a YMCA membership suffice? Overall, I like Bishop Meyers and appreciate how he courageously stood up for the sanctity of marriage and pro-life issues. I definitely think the Star Ledger and secular media has an agenda against the Church and esp. the more conservative bishops. However, that being said, I think this home is over the top and to put it bluntly, the addition a dumb PR move considering all that the Church is going through. I’m not one to nickel and dime everything…nor do I think we should be nitpicking our priests’ cars…but this level of luxury does send the wrong message.

    • Isabel Sinton

      A YMCA membership? No, No,No. You must be young! I can remember when Catholics were NOT ALLOWED to join the Young Men’s CRISTIAN Asso. It was run by Protestants who would ( rumor said) try to get you into a Protestant Church and convert you!

      • Anna

        The Y is practically socialist now…no mention of God, religion, at all. When I first started going they had a manger scene in the corner, no more.

  • Ray McCracken

    This brings to mind a quote from scripture, “And Jesus wept”.

  • A practicing Catholic

    Shame on the bishops who put themselves above the people they serve. There is no need to have a retirement residence fit for royalty. If meetings are to be held, try utilizing the rooms of local parishes. After working for a diocese for almost 20 years and having no pension, I cannot accept the extravagant “needs” of a retired bishop. Again, I say shame on you!

  • FD

    Why can’t the church make an investment? Why can’t a priest who has given his life in service to others have a nice safe place to live in retirement? Why do we feel the need to pass judgment on something that is none of our business? I could see you having an opinion on this if you were paying for it. But really, should all priests and nuns live in dirty, run-down places where no one else would want to live? I expect this from the secular world, but not people who claim to be catholic. Enough already. Leave the man alone.

    • Anna

      We are paying for it. Who is paying for the mat, upkeep, taxes and utilities? He had a nice, safe, place to live. If he didn’t put the addition on, it wouldn’t have made press. Our parish priests and struggling parishes are the ones bearing the brunt of this choice. Like I said, I’m a conservative, I like Bishop Meyers and what he stands for, but this–this is over the top.

    • Kathy English

      Oh yes, the nuns? After working hard all their lives, where do these ladies retire? Or does the bishop keep them nearby to scrub his floor?

  • Moleebo

    I am just curious how small and dilapidated the bishop’s retirement home would have to be to make the “faithful” happy. I mean a shower is out because so and so’s grandmother doesn’t have a shower. What square footage is small enough for your bishop. I guess the safest thing to do would be to dump him in a nursing home. If that is good enough for a lot of the “faithful’s” own parents why shouldn’t it be good enough for their bishop.

    • anna

      Moleebo, no one (not me anyway) is saying he needs to live in something “dilapidated.” The house he had was fine. I don’t understand the need for an addition and thus the bad PR.

      • Moleebo

        I’m really disappointed that more people aren’t giving this man and the Archdiocese a fair hearing. It is sad that people want to think the absolute worst of the Church officials involved. This article is anti-Catholic propaganda plain and simple. It is a shame that so many are willing to leap to the worst possible conclusions with such little knowledge of events.

        Anna, I can respect that you and some others would like to see a
        Church more in line with what Pope Francis has recently described. ( I would too). I don’t see how jumping up and down with faux outrage over an old man’s retirement quarters moves us any closer to Pope Francis vision. Much to the contrary, the comments on this page are teeming with envy and are not charitable. Sorry but I have to call ‘em as I see ‘em.

        Maybe this guy really is a hedonistic heathen, I have never met him. But I certainly wouldn’t draw that conclusion about him based on this petty and misleading article.

        • anna

          I like Bishop Meyers, and I am actually not a huge fan of Pope Francis, although I respect the office. I just think this is a really imprudent decision—the addition, I am referring to, considering all that our diocese is going through.

        • Kathy English

          The article above tries to mislead. Judging by the responses here, no one is buying it. Also, I think most of the outrage about this matter is NOT “faux.”

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    Thank you for this Kathy. I tried to defend the Bishop on the various posts around. I thought it was unfair criticism. Side note: I just realized that my brainwaves tend to be in synch with your brainwaves more than any other blogger on Patheos. ;)

    • kathyschiffer

      Well, now that’s an honor! :)

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        Oh thank you. The honor is all mine. :)

    • Kathy English

      That’s nothing for either of you to brag about.

  • David M Paggi

    Perhaps those inclined to be critical should consider the parable in Mt 20:1-16, where the householder hires groups of workers throughout the day, yet gives them the same wage at days’ end. When those who worked the longest grumbled,

    “13He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? 15[Or] am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’” NABRE http://www.usccb.org/bible/matthew/20

    In the present case, the donors are analogous to the householder, and those that complain have as much, or rather as little right to do so as the laborers who
    received the usual wage per their agreement. Are not the donors free to do as
    they wish with their own money? Then how can anyone presume that the
    donors’ money would otherwise be available to the Archdiocese for any other
    purpose?

    Moreover, while it is true that the Archbishop will reside there, at 73 it likely won’t be for terribly long, at which time the Archdiocese can review the relative merits of holding or disposing the property. Either way, the Archdiocese will hold a property worth $1 million or so which it would not otherwise own.

    How could this be regarded as a bad result? Only in the media, where not being “PC” is a magnet for criticism. With all the attacks the Church endures, and the epically distorted coverage of Pope Francis, we really should resist getting sucked into a narrative that has nothing good for the Church as its goal.

    • Brett Thompson

      There’s more than private donations in play, check the most recent Archdiocese press release stating they are selling real estate to finance this so called “retirement home”.

  • Brett Thompson

    The article is so full of holes so big you can build a 3 story wing thru; And is false about funds coming only from private donations. The Archdiocese also said additional money is coming from the selling of other real estate with the proceeds going to the project. Whether its a house or building you can go further. The article never addresses why it is essential to build such an edifice for “meetings, and church functions” out in the wilderness. And why is it necessary to have these events at a retirement home?

    As for his ailments, an exercise pool, a whirlpool and an office does not need 3 stories, 1 can suffice. And if Mr. Myers plans to remain active in canon law, he does not need a lavish retreat or huge library in the age of instant internet to Vatican Library to write opinions to the Pope. Does the Bonfire of the Vantities mean anything to you Mr. Myers?

    And what about all those extra bedrooms? If this is going to be an official place for guests and church business, then the Archdiocese should build a conference center that is a real one for all, not a self admitted retirement home that’s really a palatial playground for him and his pals.

    This is France 1789 before the revolution when the Church lived high on the hog and couldn’t understand why everyone else (us pleebs) were in such a tizzy over their orgy of heathen gluttony.

  • AWildernessVolunteer

    What is really sad is the oblivious nature of the defense of this egregious waste of money. It smacks of a 1% viewpoint of the rest of the world and reveals exactly how out of touch the catholic hierarchy is with the rest of the world.
    It appears the archdiocese hasn’t been listening to what Pope Francis has been saying.

  • Ziggle

    Excuses, excuses. Our new pope chooses to live in regular priests’ housing, but this archbishop needs a home of ridiculous size and palatial furnishing. Meanwhile, nuns who have worked their entire lives in the service of the people of the church struggle to provide for their retirement housing and care. He needs a bedroom, and a den or office — not a mini-mansion.

    • Brett Thompson

      Amen.

  • Doug Lawrence

    Sent in by one of my readers:

    DECREE ON THE MINISTRY AND LIFE OF PRIESTSPRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS
    PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS,
    POPE PAUL VI
    ON DECEMBER 7, 1965
    ” Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Savior and sent him to evangelize the poor,(53) priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away. Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions. Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them.”

    • nannon31

      Doug,
      We posted at the same time. This decree of Vatican II means the poor should feel free to visit the Bishop at his home. Now….can they bring bathing suits? Will there be a shuttle bus from Newark bringing the poor?
      All these things are possible in light of the decree….and we’re all so not cafeteria that this will indeed come to pass.

  • nannon31

    Great adverse comments. Vatican II warns against this ( see below ).
    Kathy, The taxes without the addition are 18K a year so we can guess that will baloon upward to ? 26K. Will the private donaters be paying that every year into perpetuity or will it be coming from taxi drivers, bodega owners, cashiers, teachers, nurses, retail workers etc? Second…did the private donators know the nature of this beast when they donated? Thirdly what is the percent of the cost exactly attributed to the donators?

    DECREE ON THE MINISTRY AND LIFE OF PRIESTS
    PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS
    PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS,
    POPE PAUL VI
    ON DECEMBER 7, 1965
    ” Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Savior and sent him to evangelize the poor,(53) priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away. Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions. Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them.”

  • pilotbird

    Despite all the spin provided by the Diocese this is not a proper use of funds. The damage done to the Church it’s perception by asset donating Catholics has been significant. The parishes and annual fund campaigns will suffer as a result. The only way out of this fiasco is for the Bishop to apologize for a public relations misstep sell the residence and give the funds to the Annual Bishops collection. Will he do this? Probably when pigs can fly. It’s sad we are a country of self serving politicians, lawyers and now church leaders. Can you sense a form of Armageddon expanding?

    • Kathy English

      Armageddon or Versailles?

  • Mark Mucci

    The Star Ledger has reported actual and accurate facts about the Archbishop. Mr. Goodness tells people that those articles are “defamatory”. Maybe the Archbishop should reconsider his conduct, instead of falsely accusing those who report the facts.
    For example, Father Fugee. The Archbishop sent him to live in the rectory at Sacred Heart parish in Rochelle Park, New Jersey. That’s where I grew up, and where my parents have been faithful and supportive parishioners for over 50 years.
    Nobody was told, or warned, or informed about Father Fugee’s restrictions. When they came to light, Mr. Goodness brushed off the criticism, saying that Father Fugee’s record was public, and anyone could have learned about it.
    In other words, people like my parents (did I mention that they have been faithful and supportive Catholic parishioners there for over 50 years?) should not trust the Archdiocese, but have a responsibility to do their own “background check” when a priest is installed into the residence at their parish.
    I find the comments of Mr. Goodness to be highly insulting. His comments about the news reports regarding the Archbishop’s retirement home demonstrate his trademark contempt for Catholics in the Newark Archdiocese.
    By the way, I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this, but the Archbishop’s retirement home and offices ARE NOT IN THE NEWARK ARCHDIOCESE. Not anywhere near it. It’s an insult to his flock.

    • Danno

      Absolutely, well said. When are Catholics going to refuse to tolerate the lies and deceit by church spokespeople?

  • Kevin Davitt

    There is deception here. You cannot explain away a “2nd home/mansion” by comparing it to the extravagant residences of other bishops throughout the United States. The archbishop’s residence at the Cathedral in Newark (which he shares) is also extravagant – hence, the archbishop has his choice of extravagant residences.

    Jim Goodness “tried” to explain that “no church money was involved” in the renovation and that the cost was being borne by private donations and “through the sale of unused church property.” So – the proceeds from the sale of other unused church property would otherwise go where? Not back to church coffers?

    In essence, Archbishop Myers has become accustomed to a lifestyle of comfort. Perhaps he should look at the size of the Papal Guest Apartment where His Holiness, Pope Francis, is living – and then compare.

    The building of the extension is only the most recent example of Archbishop Myers’ tone-deafness towards his congregation. How can one possibly sleep at night, as shepherd of the flock, and use the proceeds from the sale of the schools of the flock’s children in order to extend, in his retirement no less, the lifestyle he obsessively craves? – Kevin Davitt, Glen Rock.

  • I. M. Bennett

    I read the NY Times article on spiritdaily.com, which posted it without comment. I’m not sure why spiritdaily just let it go at face value. Maybe the topic wasn’t all that interesting to spiritdaily, which daily publishes what might be called “signs and wonders”–all based on that site’s penchant for seeing the End Times in every weather tragedy or imagined conspiracy.

    Be that as it may, I’m still unclear as to the reason the archdiocese needs this “retirement home.” I understand and accept the necessity of a location for large gatherings, social or otherwise. Has the archdiocese been using this property for that purpose all along? Does it have no other venue?

    Kathy, you have provided some needed balance to this story. My first impression, from reading the Times, was that the home would now belong to Abp. Myers, that the funds used to renovate it were excessive and taken from more deserving projects, and that we were talking about an American version of a reverse-Robin Hood. But your post makes some sense.

    I am, however, still uneasy that the archbishop himself did not choose another, perhaps more gracious, departure.

  • Isabel Sinton

    Ask to see the ‘books’. Who were the donors? What property was sold? When was that property bought? Many years ago, Forensic Accounting caused the downfall of Al Capone. How about some transparency in the Archdiocese accounts? The days of Pay, pray, and obey are over ( I hope).

    • Kathy English

      I’d also like to know more about the donors. Just what was given to them in exchange for their generosity?

    • Paula DeLuca

      1. 1980 – house on 2 acres bought for retired Abp Gerrety up in New Canaan, CT using part of the proceeds of an overlavish mansion in Llewelyn Park, a gated community of West Orange, NJ used by Abp Boland as a Primary Bishop’s Residence. Gerety moved into the Cathedral Rectory in Newark, used much of the $$$ from the W. Orange house to pay down diocesan debt; used rest to buy the house in CT. He is now 101; probably doesn’t even get up for the once weekly visits to CT anymore, house is estimated to be worth $915,000, taxes currently being paid on the house are $13,500. It’s non-exempt because it’s not a “church use”. Gerety retired into a Rutherford, NJ retired clergy residence so the amount of time in CT was probably limited from the start. The house is being sold to pay for Myers’ expansion.

      2. 1989 — St. James Church/Woodbridge (Metuchen Diocese) bought the house in Mantoloking believed to be the McCarrick “house at Jersey shore”. It’s on a bayside with boat docks with inground pool. House itself isn’t all that large but not small either. McCarrick had been first bishop of Metuchen Diocese when it was created in 1981. Price paid was $685,000 for the house.

      3. 1994 — St. James sold the house for a nominal $1 to Diocese of Metuchen.

      4. 1997 — Archdiocese of Newark bought the house from Dio. of Metuchen and paid $386,000 for it. The timing was interesting. The sale was shortly before Bishop Hughes (McCarrick’s successor bishop) was going to retire and a new bishop would be appointed. It took the house out of the Metuchen Diocese’s inventory of “getaway houses for clergy” and put it into Newark’s inventory where McCarrick was then the Abp.

      5. 2002 – Jersey shore house was sold by the new Newark Abp Myers to private parties for $750,000 and in the same year the Hunterdon county property was bought for $700,000 and an elevator was installed in the 4,500sq main house as a retrofit costing an additional $35,000.

      Kathy Schiffer — you can research NJ property transactions online at Asbury Park Press Data Universe (Google it) and track either Buyer or Seller as ARCHDIOCESE NEWARK to see what the good prelates are doing when they operate under the name of their church institutional employer. The house in Connecticut which was a weekend retreat for Abp Gerety can be reviewed at this link.
      http://appraisalonline.newcanaanct.gov:8080/showparcel.php?p=12771
      Nothing is known about the source of funding for the NJ shore house acquisition in 1989 and whether there were cash donors routing money to St. James to purchase it as a “getaway beach house” for by-then-departed-to-Newark-McCarrick. The CT house, like the West Orange Llewelyn Park Boland residence before it and whose partial sales proceeds bought it, appears to have been Diocesan-funded all the way.
      Since much might be learned by delving into Diocesan bookkeeping records not available to the public, I wrote to the Papal Nuncio in D.C. with a “cc” to the Vatican to request a probe of all of this to determine where the “truth” might be found. Do prelates lie, sometimes? Yes.
      It was something shown to be a lie “from elsewhere” that prompted my digging into some prelim research into Newark’s affairs, in the first place, before deciding how to respond to the Annual Appeal at the parish in Newarkt AD that we used to belong to for 10 years and now, in “empty nest mode” are back attending.
      There was a luxury NJ beachfront home of 21,000 square feet costing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia a bundle of money in annual property taxes ($117,000) and on which Cardinal Bevilacqua lavished nearly $1M in renovations in the 1990′s, over the protests of his “flock”. Lie #1 was that the house was a gift from Hannah Hogan, sister of the late Rev. Edward Hogan and in his memory, back in 1963. That “little white lie” would have originated with Cardinal Krol. Lie #2 was that the house had a reverter clause which prevented AD of Philly from selling it and getting any money from the sale. That “little white lie” was trotted out by Bevilacqua when confronted by the 1990′s protesters railing against “lavish lifestyle” spending. Lie #3 was that the renovations were costing only the $118,000 amount shown on the building permits. When Chaput arrived as Philly Abp in 2011, he discovered a mess. $350M of debt and raging/costly clergy sex abuse litigation. AD rang up a $17M deficit for 2012; and $11M of it was legal fees for defending Msg. William Lynn in a case which saw the first successful indictment against a clergyman who was not himself an abuser but who had been accused of hiding and shifting pedophiles.
      Fire sale at auction of several properties included the beach house in Ventnor, NJ. House fetched $4.5M and a lot of unearthed dusty old records. ADPhilly had paid Hannah Hogan for the property and between 1961 when she herself bought it and 1963 when she sold it to the AD, she made a nifty little 80% “flipping profit.” NO DONATION there, except of Archdiocesan parishioners’ basket collections to Hannah Hogan, a real estate developer by profession. The deed in 1963 was also clean and unrestricted. NO REVERTER CLAUSE. A Philadelphia Inquirer reporter who lives in the same town fetched up information from the local general contractor to find out what he’d been paid, and $118,000 shown on the permits for the essentials that would be inspected was a mere fraction of the total.
      Just two beach blocks up from the lavish Hogan Mansion, there had been two side-by-side beachfront mansions which REALLY WERE donations back in 1959 and 1961, and both went to the Sisters of Charity order. The “chatter” of the era was that the “love” shown to the nuns by the wealthy families was something envied by the male prelates of Philly and that the later transaction in 1963 with all its fictional invention was almost as much about emotional longing as it was about concealing a now-revealed FACT of Church spending that was self-indulgent and might have produced parishioner ire, had it been known.
      In looking at all of the back and forth here, I think that many comments tend to cast White Hats vs. Black Hats and that somehow, the prelates’ theology or perceived apostasy, and whether we favor it or dislike it, gets factored in. In the spirit of collegial RC Christianity, and amid the turbulence that is Mother Church in the current era, I would simply suggest a few things: Trust OUR FAITH as the bedrock; Trust YOURSELF in probing independently; and TRUST CHARITY but use Charity Navigator if you suspect that your donations to the traditional Annual Appeal might be misspent directly or somehow subsidizing wayward spending. We opted, this year, to give to one Annual Appeal in a Diocese where we have a home and to bypass the Annual Appeals in two others where we worship and would normally give. In both of those we donated, instead, directly to Catholic Charities and to a couple of struggling Catholic Schools. Abp Myers has shuttered 82 schools during his tenure and some of them, with 160+ students, were viable propositions in my mind. He is a product of public schooling himself, thru 12th grade, and might not have the same visceral affection for Catholic education that others who are its alumni do. Peace of Christ to all.

  • kendallpeak

    Regarding the addition and renovations, comparing the cost to giving the money to feeding the poor. Money spent giving free food is well spent. Money spent hiring local workmen to work, to create, and to feed their families is also well spent.

  • nannon31

    The unconscious birth control sermon in this is clear. Simcha Fischer is saying 11 can be happy in a moderate space but this incident is saying each person needs mucho mucho space….and a lot of water sports….and mucho land…then there is happiness.

  • Zack

    Kathy: How dare you write this garbage justifying this guy Myers. He is a priest. A priest should live in the spirit and life of Christ. Why can’t he live in the Priest Retirement Home or why can’t he live in a parish (if the pastor will have him). There are many retired priests living in our area, in retirement co-ops, retirement condos or family homes left to them when their parents died. They live quietly and volunteer their time to many good works in this area. It is the norm. Myers is not the norm.

    Oh and if you want to defend this lawyer, Myers, ask him why he threatens priests with transfers and/or the loss of their pension & health benefits if they disagree with him or call him out on issues of his protection child abusers.

    We have so many good, kind, caring priests in all our parishes embarrassed by this jerk. And Myers gives the good guys a bad rap too.

  • FW Ken

    The older immigrant churches had a need to show off, if you will. They built big fancy churches, halls, rectories, and palaces for their prince-bishops. All that is understandable, and it’s reasonable to suppose that the really holy ones found a way to live simply in such splendor.

    I’m blessed to be in a younger church, without that tradition of episcopal palaces. There was one in Galveston, but it’s a museum now. Anyway, my bishops have lived in the cathedral rectory and maybe a small brick ranch-style. Meetings are held in parish halls and the like. I went to one larger event in a hotel conference center.

    I hope the rest of the country catches up to us.

  • disqus_meZXVILv6B

    I don’t understand this whole idiocy… we follow a crucified Lord who said that “the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” A bishop has NO RIGHT to expect anyone to subsidize his retirement in lavish style. I don’t care how much service he has given to the church… my husband and I chose to work in Catholic education all our working lives, sent two children through Catholic schools even when we could barely afford it and did without some things most people would think were essential, like OWNING A HOUSE, and now live in retirement on SS and medicare and some small dividends from the pittance we were able to save. One of the two priests in my parish, who is retired but still giving workshops and retreats at 76, is content to live in the rectory and share in the parish ministry because the only other priest is our 62 year old pastor. No priest should think he’s entitled, anymore than my husband and I think we are entitled, to something amazingly special because you served the Church. I’m embarrassed by any bishop who behaves in this fashion.

  • Treeder65

    I live close by and have been to the house and yes, it is way too excessive. You Kathy, are definitely part of the problem with the Church. Nothing more than an enabler and a shill. Jim Goodness has changed the story on aaa daily basis. The “donors specifically for this property” is a new story. Previously it was going to be paid by selling off other church properties. Then it was going to be used for retreats….now maybe other priests will be living there. Why have they waited since 2002 to actually house more than one person (on weekends only) in a five bedroom house? And during that time, they have been paying more than $18k per year in taxes. That will balloon to $25k with the new addition. Yes, I checked the tax records; they are paying despite Jim Goodness’s assertion/lie stating that they aware not. I’m surprised they would build a three story addition if Myers has these health issues; a ranch would make more sense. And Healthquest is a fine spa

    What I find most ironic and really rich is that “Your. Grace” could have retired out here in his opulent McMansion without any of us neighbors knowing or caring. His/their greed and arrogance have brought this on. I cannot wait to drive by and see a for sale sign. I for one will not let it go away.

    • nannon31

      The three stories? He always knew there’d be an elevator. Ancient saints like Aquinas in the chapel levitated….new saints press a button to levitate at great utility bill expense. He better always have his cell phone in that elevator in that big house alone. What if he gets stuck between floors on the maid’s sick day? His intimacy with the Lord will increase exponentially in that situation. Deut.32:39 “See ye that I alone am, and there is no other God besides me: I will kill and I will make to live: I will strike, and I will heal, and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.”

    • Danno

      Treeder65, Thank you for providing the most factual information of anyone about this fiasco. You have seen and been to the house. And like all archdiocese spokespeople Jim Goodness makes his living speaking in bishopese “mental reservation”. As Treeder65 said 25K for taxes plus I would bet that his Grace will be burning through electric and gas in that big old place. Only a well meaning yet blind apologist like Kathy could try to spin this issue, Do you think us victims of sex abuse are the villains and the church is the victim?

      • Kathy English

        Sadly Danno, many do think that the victims are the abusers and the clerics are the poor souls being attacked. Too many have bought into the Catholic way of not thinking for themselves. “Father will tell you what’s what.” (Good to “see” you, by the way.)

      • Treeder65

        Danno, there is a good follow up article on nj.com today. Hopefully the pope will intercede soon.

        • Danno

          Thank you for representing the truth.
          The many others that excuse away this bad behavior only are ensuring the continuing arrogance of these power hungry bishops.

  • Lydia

    It all started with the outrageous cost of installing A/C at the Sacred Heart Basilica so that JJ Myers could be comfortable wearing his many layered vestments on his portly frame.
    Section 1866 Cathechism of the Catholic Church says:
    Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose… They are called “capital” because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia.

    PRIDE, AVARICE & GLUTTONY trifecta!

  • Maureen O’Brien

    Attempting to justify the totally unjustifiable! The whole event is both immoral and stupid. Nobody needs a $1 million house — along with its staggering costs of upkeep. The Bishop can be more appropriately housed in an assisted living facility if needed and most rectories have more than enough space to accommodate him.

    I hope Pope Francis calls Archbishop Myers to Rome and says “you’re fired”!

    • nannon31

      The property taxes (much of it for an incredible forest of trees) will be 1.25 million dollars for the next fifty years. So the laity are basically buying another two part mansion every 50 years in taxes unless rich donors do that. But Goodness never detailed if the rich were informed if the addition was eventually for many priests or one man with three floors, an elevator and an endless pool and a whirlpool bath. Catholicism needs outside non Catholic journalists because they alone stopped the sex abuse crisis while our internal diocesan papers and reporters were reporting on Bishop appointments as our children were being fondled and worse for forty years.

      • Maureen O’Brien

        hopefully, if enough of US make enough noise, that obscene pile of bricks will be sold. make sure you tweet often about this — also use hashtags such as #pontifex

  • Silence Doogood

    After Mass this morning, somewhere in the Newark Archdiocese, a fellow parishioner told me that he had torn up his check to the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal. Several others said, “Not this year, not this archbishop.”

    • Maureen O’Brien

      A wise decision! make sure it is known.

  • PetrusRomanus1

    John Myers, long before he became “Your Grace,” was never known to travel less than first class, literally or figuratively. At the same time, he is well known, both in Newark and in Peoria, to relegate priests who do not totally agree with his GOP-Tridentine-conservative views, to rat-infested rectories with leaky roofs and no funds to repair them. Beyond doubt or dispute, Myers has driven out of the priesthood more men (including a now deceased classmate) than many dioceses have on their active lists!
    If His Grace is truly interested in maintaining his health, he’s more likely to thrive in a semi-monastic environment, with its silence, simplcity, and relatively spartan diet. The man is spiritually dead, and is in desperate need of heart-to-heart resuscitation, which he will not find anywhere on the grounds of his secluded mansion.

    • Jose

      “Your Grace….”is the proper, formal way to address a bishop. It is part of our Catholic culture.

      • nannon31

        Some of our Catholic culture is a crock coming down to us from baroque and rococo manners and not from apostolic times. Here for example is the first Pope BEING SENT by others in
        Acts. Euro tradition obscured this humility of the first Pope by replacing it with kingly baloney culture. Here’s Acts which comes from God:
        ” Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John…” Acts 8:14.
        So the first Pope was sent by the apostles in Jerusalem and this is in keeping with Christ saying that leadership would be servant oriented in His followers and they were not to ” lord it over” like the rulers of this world:

        Luke 22:25-26
        Douay-Rheims
        25 And he said to them: The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and they that have power over them, are called beneficent.
        26 But you not so: but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger; and he that is the leader, as he that serveth.”
        Now Jose…don’t sin against the scripture in answering. Do you think Archbishop Myers would allow jurisdictional inferiors to send him somewhere as did Peter, the Rock, who is the template as to how our Catholic culture should look.

        • jose

          Well, Popes and bishops are “servants of the servants of God.” But they are also authority figures, which is why “Your Grace” though it sounds out of place in our casual American culture, is one of the formal proper ways to address a bishop. Just as our political leaders (are supposed to be) public servants, but we have titles to address them. If you met BO would you say, “Hey, how’s it going Barry?” No, you would say Mr. President. Even after a Govenor is no longer in office he is still called Govenor.

          • nannon31

            Thanks for answering the question…oh wait…you didn’t answer it at all.

          • Treeder65

            Well, the fact that he insists on being called that is a little much.

          • kathyschiffer

            Jose, President Obama doesn’t “INSIST” on being called President. He just IS the president. Likewise, that is the proper form of address for the archbishop. It’s not an ego thing on his part.

          • Treeder65

            I was referring to the Archbishop. It is pretty well known that he is adamant about being called “Your Grace”. Got Ego?

  • jose

    I think some of us are going a little too far. Stick to the issue at hand. We shouldn’t be criticizing what our Bishop wears, or his size, clothes, whatever. Regalness is part of Catholic tradition, something we shouldn’t give up easily. While we want to be a good steward of funds and guard against opulence, at the same side we don’t want a poor, bankrupt shabby Church either. The same arguments can be used against our politicians…think about it….why does the Gov need the govenor’s mansion?, it is only one family….why should we put the president up in the White House?;…we give our political leaders nice places to live not only out of respect for them, but for the institution they serve. What would it say about our country if our president lived in a dilapidated house? So while I think the Bishop’s retirement home is a little over the top, at least the addition is, we don’t want to go to the other extreme where we scrutinize every little thing….Remember when Mary Magdeline washed Jesus’ feet with expensive oil…the poor will always be with us, and a poor Church won’t be in a position to help the poor.

    • nannon31

      Many tradition bound Catholics on the net use the example of the nard to justify “regalness”… but Christ tells you it was justified because it was for His Burial…Burial…not for His everyday cologne…
      Douay-Rheims Bible Mt.26:12
      “For she in pouring this ointment upon my body, hath done it for my burial.”

      Now read the Vatican II requirement of a Bishop’s home…welcoming to the poor:

      DECREE ON THE MINISTRY AND LIFE OF PRIESTS
      PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS
      PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS,
      POPE PAUL VI
      ON DECEMBER 7, 1965
      ” Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Savior and sent him to evangelize the poor,(53) priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away. Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions. Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them.”

    • Treeder65

      Our country stopped trying to live Christlike and set a good example for the world along time ago. They are not expected to, the Catholic Church is.

  • Danno

    This is just another example of the credibility problem that continues because of the disparity between many of church leaders actions and actions representing
    Jesus Christ. Silence from the pews have enabled Myers to become “his grace” .

    We teach people how to treat us by what allow to happen, silence is approval. This has been happening in this church around the world. The leaders are acting using donations from parishioners to do things that do not align with what Jesus represents. They act in your name.

    Look at the tragedy happening to the victims of sexual abuse in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Archbishop Listecki called people forward for healing and resolution and cited “to fairly compensate the victims of sexual abuse” for the reason that he filed bankruptcy. He has fought all victims that came forward for healing and resolution giving them only another betrayal and more pain. He does not recognize even one single victims claim as valid. He offers a small and shameful recompense to 128 which represents only 20% of the 570 victims that he said he his not responsible for. But because he would have to hear each case separately he is just saving on legal costs. Costs to fight the victims that he asked to come forward. How can you file bankruptcy to fairly compensate abuse victims. Then fight all the victims that came forward and claim responsibility for none of them. The silence from most clergy and parishioners is deafening.

    These same credibility issues are happening all over the country and they are making this church morally irrelevant.

  • nannon31

    Kathy,
    Your canons would have logically prevented Christ from overturning the tables in the temple and whipping the moneychangers out therefrom since scripture says that “He came under the law” and the temple rulers permitted the moneychangers to be there.
    Aquinas cites the canons and gloss thereon that mandated that a child born to a slave mother was therefore a slave ( Summa T./ Supplement/ Matrimony/ on the marriage of a slave). Now “Splendor of the Truth” in section 80 implies that canon was dead wrong.

    ps Cardinal Law, Fr. Corapi, Fr. Enteneuer were all “orthodox” on pelvic issues…that’s not that hard to be orthodox on when you’re celibate anyway and it advances your career. Where are they now? I’m sure they all inspired vocations.

  • Joe Giglio

    Kathy, I appreciate your sincere effort to find the defensible argument for this situation. The bottom line in my view is the lack of example being lived here. The optics of a situation like this DO matter. A sense of humbleness inspired by Our Lord (as his holiness Pope Francis is living) is really called for in our church today. Other retired bishops have been able to live comfortably on less. As for the fundraising, we all know that is it is a “zero-sum game”, every dollar that goes to this is a dollar that didn’t go to a more pressing need. The fact that Myers is unable or unwilling to demonstrate a sense of humility is a big part of the problem. To the public this looks as bad as billionaire CEOs giving themselves bonuses while laying off workers. It plays into the narrative of “two Americas”. Myers suffers from a severe case of clericalism.

  • Adam

    Thank you for this article defending the archbishop. It’s a real shame you felt the need to lash out at the bishop of Limburg in Germany however. The 42 million didn’t go towards a house for him, but built a whole chancery complex (and a very nicely designed one) which included a two bedroom apartment for the bishop. Much of the spending was also decided by a committee and not the bishop. All the other German bishops live in similar luxury or, in some cases, practically live in palaces. The reason why the media and the other German bishops have gone after Bishop Peter however is that he’s one of the few German bishops to actually believe in the Church’s teachings. It’s no accident that among his (few) defenders are Archbishop Ganswien and the Emeritus Archbishop of Cologne.

    • nannon31

      So would you say you dissent from Vatican II?

      DECREE ON THE MINISTRY AND LIFE OF PRIESTS
      PRESBYTERORUM ORDINIS
      PROMULGATED BY HIS HOLINESS,
      POPE PAUL VI
      ON DECEMBER 7, 1965
      ” Led by the Spirit of the Lord, who anointed the Savior and sent him to evangelize the poor,(53) priests, therefore, and also bishops, should avoid everything which in any way could turn the poor away. Before the other followers of Christ, let priests set aside every appearance of vanity in their possessions. Let them arrange their homes so that they might not appear unapproachable to anyone, lest anyone, even the most humble, fear to visit them.”

  • TC

    This entire building is dedicated to the use of one person, based on all reports, including this one. It is too much. A nice apartment, adding a jacuzzi to accommodate the pains of an old man, fine. The archbishop sounds like a cranky old man, like the grandfathers I grew up with, one of whom l lived with. Not always a lot of fun for everyone else in the household, but you deal. Part of the problem may be that he has no living family, or other contemporaries, to tell him “Hey, knock it off! Calm down and let’s watch the game. You need a beer?” Gotta say, the last place I want to end up is in a McMansion in Soprano-land.

  • Dave

    “The most powerful gift we can give another is a good example” – could Bishop Myers be more different than Pope Frances?? Who would you choose to follow? I know my answer!

    This man, and his associates, seem completely insulated from the reality of the lives of the peope they are supposed to be serving. I have been a Catholic for almost 70 years and am disgusted – again

  • david

    Yikes…is this really the best defense? It reads like a further indictment. .. What a shame… men like this bling archbishop give priests a bad name.

  • rearguard

    Someone questioned whether Bishop Myers should “have” to live like a middle-class American.

    Certainly not! He should live like the POOR. Just ask Pope Francis.

    And anyway, I can think of a few billion people around the world that would give their right arm for the privilege of living like a middle-class American.

    If Myers is indeed representing Christ – the usual excuse offered for those like him, given to pomp and finery (Ray Burke comes to mind) – then remember that Christ was born in a stable, dirt poor, and died on a cross, dirt poor. He didn’t have a “conference space” or “social gatherings” either. And it never stopped Him.

    “Give us today our daily bread”.. I don’t grudge Myers a comfortable retirement, but a mansion with indoor and outdoor swimming pools is NOT one’s daily bread. And mention of all these anonymous donors forking over small fortunes doesn’t put the matter to rest at all, they just raise more troubling questions. Why are these donors anonymous? What are they getting in return for their generosity? And do they get to write off these donations as charitable contributions? If so, it isn’t just the parishioners that are getting stiffed – it’s the American taxpayer footing a third of the bill.

    • Paula DeLuca

      The official statement about the anonymous donors is what prompted me to dig deeper into the antecedents of that Jersey shore property, the sale of which provided funds for initial purchase of the 8.5 acre spread in Hunterdon county in 2002. As a weekend retreat for Archbishop Myers. It all traces back to an earlier acquisition by a parish church in 1989 then two further flips to 2 dioceses. A betting man might surmise that “the” St James Parish in question fell into Metuchen Diocese which was under the guiding hand of (then) Bishop (and later Archbishop then Cardinal) Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick who used the place. Anyone who Googles his name + seminarians + Jersey shore home … well , let’s leave it at that.

  • Daniel Jereb

    As we forgive those who trespass against us by putting children in harm’s way all the while living way too swell. American Catholicism is as corrupt as the American capitalism it sleeps with.

  • Paula DeLuca

    The NJ beach home that is being mentioned as the source of funding, through sale, for the later acquisition of the Myers Retirement Residence in Hunterdon county can have its transactions traced quite easily through the Asbury Park Press Data Universe. (Anyone can Google to the link.) It appears to be the home on Squan Beach Drive in Mantoloking (Brick Township) NJ and features bay frontage with boat docks and a swimming pool. It was acquired in 1997 with the buyer listed by name as the ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHDIOCESE NEWARK for $386,000 and the seller identified as DIOCESE OF METUCHEN (where McCarrick was a bishop before going to Newark as Archbishop). Rolling further backward in time, in 1994 the property records show that it was “bought” for a nominal $1 by DIOCESE OF METUCHEN (at a time when it was valued by tax assessments at $480,000) from prior owner ST. JAMES CHURCH. Going even further back in time, one can trace its purchase by ST. JAMES CHURCH as a transaction on 10/02/1989 which found the church paying $685,000 for the property (then carrying an assessed value of $220,750) from a private seller named Walter Uszenski. Since McCarrick landed in NJ as a bishop assigned from New York, and wasn’t appointed from pastorship as a monsignor in some parish named St. James in NJ, it’s hard to trace which of the dozen or more NJ parishes named St. James might have been the original buyer. But church funds derived from some kind of “collection basket” — rooted in a parish — seem to have paid a high price for the property in 1989 dollars.

    It was resold in 2002 for $750,000 exactly. If it was not used for church-related activities — which it seems it was not — then it probably did not enjoy exemption from property taxes during the time the Archdiocese owned it. . Similarly, the new home in Hunterdon which has been used by Myers as a weekend retreat and is undergoing expansion, has been reported as not qualifying for property tax exemption and one report claims the Archdiocese has been paying $19,000 per year for property taxes. . As for our own family — situated in a parish of the Archdiocese of Newark, active in charity work which has exposed us to the plight of the genuinely poor both abroad and closer to home — we have come to this conclusion. We will no longer write checks to Annual Appeal drives which land in the coffers of the upper hierarchy Princes of the Church Going forward, our checks will cut out any potential skimming of funds by a middleman and we will do the homework needed (Charity Navigator is a help) in making sure our dollars reach the truly poor. Catholic Charities will likely emerge the big-time winner, for us and for many others.

  • Dan

    The Catholic Church has become a sham. It is all about big business these days and is just as corrupt and complicit in it’s dealings as Wall Street .Even when I worked answering phones in a rectory in New Jersey back in the late 70′s early 80′s part time while I went to school, the priests in that parish ate better every day of the week than their parishoners and drank fine liquor and wine at every meal, and most of the second collection money collected during Mass supported that lavish lifestyle and paid for this plus expensive cars and vacations. If the Catholic Church is so emphatic about change and focusing it’s clergy on the right things, they should bring back and enforce poverty, chastity and obedience for their secular order much in the same way the Franciscan and Benedictine orders work with their clergy. Secular priests particularly within the Archdiocese of Newark have been getting away with a lot more than this as far back at Bishop Joseph Francis and that’s only what I remember as a child. I won’t even begin to go into what went on in the all boys Prep school I attended to that was run by the secular priests of the Newark Archdiocese.

  • Sam Diamond

    He “needs” a 4500 square foot home, with 5 bedrooms to retire? Now, I am reminded of a man — a man also with a history of service to god and community– who lives in a modest apartment, what’s his name? Oh yeah. Pope Francis.

  • Paula

    The accommodations for all of the bishop’s health problems could have been built in a location near or attached to the church so parishioners with the same health problems could have enjoyed the same benefits.

  • J P

    Maybe if the church would take better care of the Priest and Archbishops general well being and residence ….. They would not have such a history of child abruse by there Elders in the Church…… I questioned why so much attention is being placed on the residence of the Archbishop’s and not enough focus on what they do and sacrifice for their followers and congregation’s everyday…. What is wrong for them to have a nice place to retreat at the end of their work days or weeks……Especially when they are caring out the good work of the church and it’s people to the leater… Shame on the church and the news press for making a dwelling a punishment over the teachings and work ethics of the men that presides over the flock of the Catholic Church …… This dwelling in Atlanta is not the only poach building that the Catholic or Churches at large use to reside in…. Should they get ride of all their opulence in Churches and properties….. Hmmm ….. I think the focus is misdirected

  • bill555

    the vast majority of the american population do not live in an 4000 sq ft $800k home with a therapy pool. if this was a corporation rewarding it’s CEO, people wouldn’t bat an eye. But as Catholics, we expect priests to follow their vow of poverty. They are rewarded for their service not materially but spiritually.

    when a donation is made for a specific purpose does that mean the church is required to accept the funds and use it for that purpose only? seems like there is discretion by the recipient, especially re: sound judgment and following what is acceptable by the Church and it’s congregation.

  • Barbara

    Kathy I assume by now that you’ve heard about the Atlanta archbishop apologizing for building himself a $2.2M home? You should read his apology and then maybe you could forward it on to Archbishop Myers.

    http://newsone.com/3003068/atlanta-archbishop-wilton-gregory-apologizes-mansion/

    • kathyschiffer

      I’ve seen it, Barbara, thanks. I think I’ll just watch this play out. Perhaps it will influence the Newark archbishop to do likewise. Perhaps not.

  • Barb

    Catholic Church parishioners, please stop closing your eyes and mouth and continue to accept status quo. How many children were molested and the pope on down ignored the problem for decades? Lives were destroyed! How would you feel if it was your child? It easily could have been. The wealth that the so-called “leaders” in the church are enabled to have is far from what Jesus preached. Yet the “supporters” or what I would like to call mindless “followers” of the church who never question these documented practices are the biggest part of this problem. Where’s the accountability? Please stop accepting these disgusting and horrific practices in a mindless manner, letting your leaders have total control with no accountability. Archbishops passing molesting priests to other parishes. Archbishops building 2.2 million homes and $500,000 additions for themselves with no accountability. How can you keep turning your back on the victims? I was raised catholic but I find the leaders of Catholicism to be far from spiritual.

  • Thomas Doyle

    This whitewash attempt is ridiculous. Myers is being criticized for justifiable reasons. It make zero sense to go to the bishops PR guy to get information to clarify the media criticism. But, that’s the way the institution Church does it. “If you think I’m lying, ask me and I will tell you if I am or not.” Reminds me of what one of my old professors defined as Irish logic (he was from Dublin). “I said it because its so and its so because I said it!.”


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