Archbishop John J Myers, the New Jersey bishop who allowed a convicted child-molesting priest to return to ministry with children, is retiring.
According to NJ.com, Archbishop Myers is planning to retire to an $800,000 mansion, which he is refurbishing with diocesan dollars to the tune of another $500,000.
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the “Bishop of Bling.”
That doesn’t compare with the 40-million euros the Bishop of Bling spent, but it’s far beyond what seems needed and necessary for the comfortable retirement of one elderly priest, even in New Jersey’s inflated real estate dollars.
He is adding a 3,000 square foot addition to the already large house. The addition will have an indoor exercise pool, three fireplaces and an elevator. To top it off, the half million to build this thing does not include fees for the architects, cost of furnishings (furnishing this much real estate won’t be cheap) or landscaping.
I think we should also add the inevitable cost of upkeep, cleaning, etc. I rather doubt that Arichbishop Myers plans to do his own vacuuming and dusting.
My own Archbishop lives in a modest ranch-style home. The retired Archbishop of Oklahoma City, who I think of as my spiritual father, also lives modestly.
It is possible that this building will not be used solely as a residence for Archbishop Myers. Maybe it will be a retirement home for a number of priests, and not just the Archbishop. Frankly, I’m having a hard time believing that he would do something this stupid and destructive in these times.
Nothing in the news story indicates that the residence is intended to be anything more than Archbishop Myers’ private home. But if it turns out that there is another side to this story, I will be happy to write about it here.
In these times of imploding culture, when the Church and the faithful are under attack from so many quarters, we are desperately in need of inspiration and leadership from behind the altar. What Archbishop Myers appears to be doing with his retirement home isn’t it.
Update: My friend and colleague Kathy Schiffer has a different take on this here.
The 4,500-square-foot home sits on 8.2 wooded acres in the hills of Hunterdon County. With five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a three-car garage and a big outdoor pool, it’s valued at nearly $800,000, records show.
But it’s not quite roomy enough for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.
Myers, who has used the Franklin Township house as a weekend residence since the archdiocese purchased it in 2002, is building a three-story, 3,000-square-foot addition in anticipation of his retirement in two years, The Star-Ledger found. He will then move in full-time, a spokesman for the archbishop said.
The new wing, now just a wood frame, will include an indoor exercise pool, a hot tub, three fireplaces, a library and an elevator, among other amenities, according to blueprints and permits filed with the Franklin Township building department.
The price tag, the records show, will be a minimum of a half million dollars, a figure that does not include architectural costs, furnishings and landscaping.
Construction is progressing as Myers asks the 1.3 million Roman Catholics of the archdiocese to open their wallets for the “archbishop’s annual appeal,” a fundraising effort that supports an array of initiatives, including religious education, the training of future priests and feeding the poor.
More significantly, it comes at a time when Pope Francis has made profligate church spending a target of his early tenure.
Francis, who eschewed the papal palace for a modest guest apartment and who gave up a Mercedes in favor of a Ford, has criticized bishops for living “like princes” and has called for a “poor church for the poor.”
In a move that signaled his impatience on the matter, the pope suspended the bishop of Limburg, Germany, in October for spending $42 million to renovate his residence and other church buildings. The German press dubbed the free-spending cleric the “Bishop of Bling.”