Lifestyles of the Rich and Pious

CNN’s Belief Blog has a great rundown of the lavish homes of American archbishops who haven’t gotten the memo from Pope Francis about a “church which is poor and for the poor.” CNN reports that “10 of the 34 active archbishops in the United States live in buildings worth more than $1 million.” The median home value in the U.S. is $174,200.

Not surprisingly, that list includes some of the nation’s most outspoken conservative bishops—and allies of the Republican Party—who seem to take the whole “prince of the church” thing more literally than some of their fellow prelates. Here’s a rundown:

• New York Cardinal Timothy “Capitalism is King but you can get your birth control at 7-11” Dolan lives in a 15,000-square foot neo-Gothic mansion on Madison Avenue appraised at $30 million.

• Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, who warned a few years back that the local gay pride parade might “morph into something like the Ku Klux Klan,” lives in a “one of a kind,” 19-chimneyed mansion in the heart of Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood conservatively valued at $14.3 million. And he is waited on by three nuns who live in a nearby coach house—very Downton Abbey.

• Seattle Archbishop James Sartain, who is currently in charge of making sure that the naughty nuns of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious don’t spend too much time worrying about social justice issues, lives alone in a charming three-story brick Victorian home valued at $3.84 million.

• Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, head of the bishop’s Committee on Religious Liberty—the epicenter of the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and the contraception mandate—and the man supposedly behind the investigation of the LCWR, lives in a 11,5000-square foot historic mansion that dates back to the first Catholic bishop of the United States.

• And last but certainly not least, Newark Archbishop John Myers, who has come under fire for the diocese’s failure to supervise a known predator priest and has been an outspoken opponent of John Kerry and other pro-choice Catholics, is adding a $500,000, 3,000-square foot wing to his $800,000, 4,500-square foot weekend/retirement home nestled on 8.2 wooded aces in New Jersey’s tony Hunterdon Country.

He needed the extra space for “an indoor exercise pool”—the house already has a large outdoor pool—“a hot tub, three fireplaces and a library.” Maybe he could have Boston Cardinal and Francis ally Sean O’Malley over for the weekend. The Franciscan lives in a “rundown rectory” in Boston’s South End. I bet he would love the hot tub.

Patricia Miller is the author of Good Catholics: The Battle over Abortion in the Catholic Church. Her work on the intersection of sex, religion, and politics has appeared in The Nation, Ms., and Huffington Post. She was the editor of Conscience magazine and the editor-in-chief of the National Journal’s health care briefings.

  • Whiskyjack

    I think that it’s reasonable for these men to live in houses that have housed the archbishop historically. I doubt any of the houses described in the first four examples were purchased recently. I do have a major problem with the fifth example: building a new, plush home for your retirement from an institution that nominally exalts poverty as a virtue is just elitist nonsense.

  • DKeane123

    If these historical houses are sold and they moved into more modest accommodations, how many more services would they be able to offer the poor? We keep hearing about how the government doesn’t need to offer a safety net because of organizations like the Catholic Church – I suggest they put their money where their mouths are.

    I’m sure the parishioners don’t mind 15% of their salary (that they actually have to work for) going to nun servants and upkeep for these mansions.

  • juliska

    Not surprised. Won’t change until the pope makes them change. Might that be forthcoming?

  • Leigh Anne P

    “Wealthy princes of the church’? yes…..disciples of Jesus?…highly questionable. Unless they can unpack their camel and get it through the eye of the needle quickly.

  • jaunita

    Disgusting :-(