From Northwest Catholic:
Archbishop Paul D. Etienne said he will not live in the 9,000-square-foot mansion on Seattle’s First Hill that many of his predecessors called home.
In a letter sent to priests and deacons on September 3 — his first day as leader of the Archdiocese of Seattle — the archbishop wrote, “While the Connolly House has been home to the archbishops since 1920, it will not be home for me.”
“I prefer to live a more simplified life,” he explained, adding that he was “exploring options on church properties” and hoped to find an alternative soon.
“Meanwhile, a prudent discussion will explore the possibility of selling Connolly House to help fund the great many needs across this archdiocese,” he wrote.The property has an appraised value of $8.4 million, according to the King County Department of Assessments.
“The house doesn’t represent who I am,” Archbishop Etienne said in an interview with Northwest Catholic. “I think the days of bishops living in a manner that’s a lot nicer than the majority of their people live, those days are gone, and they should be.”
“I am a pastor, not a prince,” he added, “and I want to live in a manner that’s more reflective of how my people live.”
Archbishop Etienne said the “model and message of Pope Francis” influenced him. After his election in 2013, the pope made headlines by opting to live in a Vatican guesthouse rather than the Apostolic Palace.
The archbishop said his decision “is not a reflection upon how the previous bishops lived.”
“It’s not condemning that,” he said, “but we’re in a different age today, and I want people to know that I’m willing to examine everything — including the home that I live in that the people of God provide me — in order to renew this church.”