Thou shalt not use church funds to build your $2m mansion!
Atlanta Bishop apologizes for building himself lavish home
- The 6,000-plus square foot mansion was built in the exclusive Buckhead neighborhood using money from an inheritance gifted to the Archdiocese
- The gift came from an heir to the Gone With The Wind fortune, and had to be used for ‘religious or charitable purposes’
- The Archbishop has said the home is mainly for entertaining, but he will live wherever parishioners want him to
The Archbishop of Atlanta’s Roman Catholic Diocese has been put on the defensive after it was revealed he built a multimillion dollar mansion for himself using church funds.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s $2.2million, 6,000-plus square foot palace has become a point of contention among parishioners saying it diverges from the example set by Pope Francis to live humbly.
‘They had an opportunity to be heroes, and I think it’s sad they they made a choice that is going to cause a lot of friction,’ parishioners Marci Maurer-Nunnery told CBS Atlanta.
The manse was built on land donated by the estate of an heir to the fortune earned by the author of Gone With The Wind, according to reports.
The gift included millions of dollars, was worth $15million in total and was stipulated to be used for ‘general religious and charitable purposes.’
The archdiocese tore down the home originally on the property in Atlanta’s exclusive Buckhead neighbourhood and built the new home there over the past four years, a church spokesperson told WXIA.
Neighbors include several professional athletes, CEOs and musicians.
It was built using the proceeds from selling Gregory’s previous home, the spokesperson claimed, but that has not made it any less controversial.
‘The money could be better spent on parishes that don’t have that money, for children who need help going to Catholic schools,’ Laura Mullins told CBS Atlanta.
‘We have to be very careful how we use our money to make sure that it’s used in the most purposeful way for the least among us,’ she added to WXIA.
Mullins is leading a group of outraged churchgoers protesting against the home, and apparently they’ve gotten through to Gregory.
‘I will live wherever my people want me to live,’ the embattled Archbishop told WXIA through a spokesperson, but he also penned an apology of sorts in a religious newsletter.
‘I am disappointed that, while my advisors (sic) and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility,’ he wrote in the Georgia Bulletin.
‘I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the Archdiocese who, though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services,’ he continued.
The spokesperson insisted to WXIA that Gregory lives only in a small portion of the upstairs part of the home, and that it will be used mostly for entertaining and parish events, but parishioners are not buying it.
‘I have been a parishioner of Christ the King for 36 years, and I have never been invited to anything at the Archbishop’s home,’ Mullins griped to WXIA.
Pope Francis, since taking over the Catholic Church, has preached for humility, for members to be more charitable and to live more simple lives.
Gregory’s backpedalling also came only days after the Pontiff sacked German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, refered to in the country as the ‘Bishop of Bling,’ after word got out that he spent $43million on a new residence for himself.
‘A bishop who is not at the service of his community is not good,’ Francis said of the banished Bishop, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.