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April 5th, 2014
04:48 PM ET

Archbishop to vacate $2.2 million mansion

By Chandrika Narayan, CNN, and Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - After coming under sharp criticism and issuing an apology earlier this week, the Archbishop of Atlanta announced Saturday that he would vacate his $2.2 million mansion in early May.

The decision came after a meeting with members of several church councils and parishioners in Archbishop Wilton Gregory's headquarters north of Atlanta.

"I want to thank those parishioners whose prayers, counsel and concern brought this issue to light and ensured that their Archbishop was properly attuned to the important symbolism of simple actions and the challenges faced by many of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Atlanta," Gregory said in a statement.

There were nearly 60 people present at the closed-door meeting, said Pat Chivers, communications director for the Archdiocese of Atlanta. They included members of the Archdiocesan Pastoral and Finance Council, the Council of Priests and parishioners of differing points of view,

"He listened to everyone's concern ... there is tremendous love and respect for Archbishop Gregory, and support for his decision to move forward," Chivers said.

Gregory moved into the 6,000-square-foot home in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead neighborhood in January. It was built on land donated by Joseph Mitchell, nephew of "Gone With the Wind" novelist Margaret Mitchell.

The property will be sold and the proceeds invested in the needs of the Catholic community, according to the statement. The archbishop will move into another available Archdiocesan property.

Earlier this week, Gregory publicly apologized for building the mansion.

"What we didn't stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed," Gregory wrote Monday in the archdiocesan newspaper.

The archbishop's apology came just days after the Pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, also known as the "Bling Bishop," who spent $42 million renovating his residence in Limburg, Germany.

Since his election last year, Francis has repeatedly urged Catholics to focus on income inequality and the suffering of society's marginalized. "Oh, how I would like a poor Church, and for the poor," he has said.

The Pope himself has eschewed many of the trappings of papal life, living in a small apartment in the Vatican guesthouse instead of the sumptuous apartment in the Apostolic Palace, and traveling in a small car instead of a limousine.

Francis' example has put pressure on American bishops to adopt similarly austere lifestyles, and it has emboldened rank-and-file Catholics to call them out if they fall short.

In the past year, Archbishop Jon Myers of Newark, New Jersey, has been criticized for planning $500,000 to outfit his retirement home with a elevator, exercise pool, hot tub and library.

Bishop Dennis Sullivan of Camden, New Jersey, was slammed for spending the same amount on a mansion in the suburb of Woodbury while presiding over one of the state's poorest cities.

Catholics in Charleston, West Virginia, have written to the Pope's ambassador, asking him to probe construction costs, including $7.5 million spent on the chancery, the diocese's central offices, according to the Charleston Gazette.

In Atlanta, Gregory said he had received "many ... heartfelt, genuine and candidly rebuking" e-mails, phone calls and letters during the past week.

"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," the archbishop said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

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soundoff (410 Responses)
  1. thefinisher1

    Organized atheism is a scam.

    April 7, 2014 at 1:33 pm |
    • Servant To The Slave

      You are making me very sad. Your posts don't read they way you seem to think they do. They seem more like you are an angry, unhappy person. And since they are nonsense posts, no one can actually talk to you. You have built a wall.

      That tells me you don't want to talk to anyone. You are sad and lonely. Try joining in and enjoying the blog sometimes, rather than your silly shtick.

      April 7, 2014 at 1:49 pm |
    • moderatedx

      But petty bitterness and self-righteous indignation are real. Seek help.

      April 7, 2014 at 3:56 pm |
  2. popebubba

    Organized religion is a scam.

    April 7, 2014 at 1:12 pm |
  3. greeneyedirishlass

    I wish I could say it amazes me that he just didn't see the problem with what he had done, but it doesn't. It certainly illustrates how out of touch people in powerful positions become and it's been happening this way for centuries. The Catholic Church in and of itself is extremely hypocritical in nature (I'm not speaking of the religion, but of those who operate the "church".) How anyone can justify living in a "Papal Palace" surrounded by luxury, wealth, and servants when so many who support that Papal Palace live in poverty is beyond me. To give the current pope his due at least he has refused to live in the lavish Papal Apartments and has instead chosen to live in a 2-room suite in the guest house instead, which means he is living among others rather than being sequestered away. It's a much simpler and humbler way of life too. This Pope, in my mind, is at least striving to do things that for me appear more in line with how a true leader of a church should behave. Is he perfect? Nope. Will he make mistakes? Of course, but he does seem more in touch with the people, unlike the Archbishop of Atlanta.

    April 7, 2014 at 12:52 pm |
  4. mk

    Where are they getting this kind of money? Do they all get paid that well?

    Thank god he realized his mistake. Maybe he can donate the money to the poorest of the poor clergy, the nuns. Maybe they'd be afforded enough to get some new pantyhose.

    April 7, 2014 at 12:39 pm |
  5. monkeyabeyman

    Please Pay Respects at your Local Kingdom Hall Monday..Nissan 14 Sundown

    How does Jesus’ death benefit us?

    When God created humans, he intended for them to live forever on earth without ever suffering sickness or death. However, the first man, Adam, disobeyed the Creator and lost the prospect of living forever. As descendants of Adam, we inherited death from him. (Romans 5:8, 12; 6:23) The true God, Jehovah, sent his Son, Jesus, to the earth to die and redeem what Adam had lost.—Read John 3:16.

    Jesus died to make everlasting life possible for mankind. How would you picture life without end on earth?
    Jesus’ death makes forgiveness of our sins and life without end possible for us. The Bible gives us a picture of what life on earth will be like when we are no longer afflicted by aging, disease, and death.—Read Isaiah 25:8; 33:24; Revelation 21:4, 5.

    How should we remember Jesus’ death?
    The evening before he died, Jesus told his followers to remember his death by means of a simple ceremony. Commemorating Jesus’ death that way each year allows us to contemplate how much Jesus and Jehovah love mankind.—Read Luke 22:19, 20; 1 John 4:9, 10.

    This year, the Memorial of Jesus’ death falls on Monday, April 14, after sunset. You are invited to attend with Jehovah’s Witnesses locally.—Read Romans 1:11, 12.

    April 7, 2014 at 12:35 pm |
    • Servant To The Slave

      I will pass but thanks anyway.

      April 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      "It's true. I am the Chosen One, only I can destroy him, but in order to do so, I need to know what Tom Riddle asked you all those years ago in your office, and I need to know what you told him. Be brave, sir. Be brave like my mother."
      – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

      "Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world."
      -Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

      Tonight I invite you to sit with your children and read a Harry Potter book. It will not threaten you with eternal damnation if you do not follow all its rules and it will not ask you for money. It will not ask you to judge other people. It will not make outrageous and unsubstantiated claims about the origin of the universe.

      April 7, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
  6. thefinisher1

    Why doesn't the all powerful force of atheism stop him from having so much money? Hmmmm!

    April 7, 2014 at 11:00 am |
    • Servant To The Slave

      You are unusual.

      April 7, 2014 at 11:26 am |
      • TruthPrevails1

        This person is not here for anything more than the cheap thrill of hate, this recent rant is sadly nothing new. Best not to feed it!

        April 7, 2014 at 12:17 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      asinine

      April 7, 2014 at 11:34 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Dumb dog still doesn't learn. Back to your cage, boy!

        April 7, 2014 at 12:12 pm |
    • Servant To The Slave

      I just want you to know, as an atheist, that you are loved. You should stop your self-loathing and know that everything will be okay. Reach out to friends and family and find whatever it is that you are missing. Bless your heart.

      April 7, 2014 at 11:39 am |
      • thefinisher1

        Lol. My posts are typically filled with sarcasm or reversal of atheist logic. I don't hate atheists. I find you people hilarious as you deny what you can't seem to admit. Come down off your fake thrones and see you aren't above others.

        April 7, 2014 at 12:06 pm |
        • TruthPrevails1

          replace sarcasm with hate and you might actually being telling the truth for once is you life. Somebody tried to be nice to you and you turned nasty again...how very immoral of you!

          April 7, 2014 at 12:16 pm |
        • Servant To The Slave

          @thefinisher1

          Your posts don't read they way you seem to think they do. They seem more like you are an angry, unhappy person. And since they are nonsense posts, no one can actually talk to you. You have built a wall.

          That tells me you don't want to talk to anyone. You are sad and lonely. Try joining in and enjoying the blog sometimes, rather than your silly shtick.

          April 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      @thefinisher1

      as an atheist who likes to convert people, I want to thank you for all your hard work. Your every post is a great help to me.

      April 7, 2014 at 1:02 pm |
      • thefinisher1

        You just admitted your atheism is a religion! Thanks doggie!

        April 7, 2014 at 1:10 pm |
        • igaftr

          finish
          "You just admitted your atheism is a religion! Thanks doggie!"

          But since yesterday you admitted you aren't using any known definition of religion, your post is a moot as all the rest of your garbage.

          April 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm |
    • jpherling

      If everyone were an atheist, clerics would have no money.

      April 7, 2014 at 3:08 pm |
  7. ugetthefacts

    the catholic church receives billions in our tax dollars. Catholic charities receives 3 billion. The catholic church logs volunteer work (people donating time) at $15/hour. They then can accept donations and – the amount from the volunteer hours and claim they use most donations for helping others. That's right! They then can split donations with the vatican and diocese for wealth building. It's a scam and allowed by law.

    Not to forget they have billions in tax free property, our taxes are higher to compensate for their leaching.

    April 7, 2014 at 10:52 am |
  8. shinyhalo

    Ohhhh, the priests just now realized that the money people donate is to help needy neighbors and not for million dollar mansions. Well, that's an understandable mistake lol. A slight oversight. I also know a retired pastor next door in a million dollar two story brick house by the sea.

    April 7, 2014 at 9:39 am |
    • Servant To The Slave

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-C3trU9ljw&w=640&h=360]

      April 7, 2014 at 11:42 am |
  9. kenjihosokawa1110

    Reblogged this on A real look at today's world and commented:
    What ever happened to humility and being humble? Lessons that I learned from the bible and going to church should be practiced by the Bishops and Preachers.

    April 7, 2014 at 9:37 am |
    • mk

      How else are they going to get rich if they don't convince the parishioners to live a simple life and give their money to the church? Why are so many still falling for that??

      April 7, 2014 at 12:55 pm |
      • kenjihosokawa1110

        The church has had difficulties with opulence since the medieval ages, and certain people are expected to bring revenue into their organization. However the problem occurs when heads of the church, like the Archbishop indulge in drastic amounts of wealth, which turns away people from the word of Christ and religion over all.

        My educated guess on who would "fall" for this would be the elderly. More and more young people in my community and across America are being turned off by religion. Older people however still retain their faith, and in fear of death (not surprising) have grown afraid and want to cleanse their soul. The Archbishop must have promised that they would be cleansed if they "donated" money to the church, and that they would be allowed to go to heaven.

        Hopefully this incident and article opens up people's eyes into the money machine that the Catholic church, and churches in general have turned into, and they will either ensure that the money is being used properly, or will force the priests and bishops to live a life of humility.

        April 9, 2014 at 11:35 am |
  10. Dyslexic doG

    Kenneth Copeland
    Creflo A. Dollar
    John Hagee
    Charles Blake
    Benny Hinn
    Joel Osteen
    Eddie Long
    Ed Young
    Franklin Graham
    Rick Warren

    Snake oil salesmen one and all! All writing books a plenty! All taking full advantage of today's media to use this imaginary god for fame and power and fortune!

    They are just our current versions of the people who originally wrote the bible. All who took full advantage of their time's available primitive media to use their imaginary god for fame and power and fortune!

    And I am sure they all wrote themselves into the bible as humble, poor men, even though they weren't ... the same as these men listed above have all written themselves into their books and portray themselves on television as humble, poor men, even though they aren't!!!

    What a scam! And P.S. ... they are glad for people like you who keep the money rolling in! You are not servants to a god, you are servants to these people and servants to this scam.

    April 7, 2014 at 9:34 am |
    • qqqqqjim

      Spot on!! Those fakers you mentioned should all be banned from promoting their snake oil on TV. As long as the religious sheepos keep giving money to these 'P.T. Barnums,' they'll continue their scams. Kevin Trudeau, another scam artist pitching debt cures, was recently given 10 years in prison for false advertising. that's where the people on your list should all be.

      April 7, 2014 at 10:35 am |
  11. jonasmcgreggor

    This guy stand around and does nothing at all but talk about his imaginary friend, and makes millions taking money from the stupid.
    This should be criminal.

    April 7, 2014 at 6:22 am |
    • lewcypher

      religion and the belief in god(s) ............... the ultimate ponzi scheme

      April 7, 2014 at 8:12 am |
      • ausphor

        Does anybody have any idea how and how much of the swag goes to the Vatican?

        April 7, 2014 at 10:21 am |
  12. jada43

    There is nothing wrong with being RICH.
    There is nothing wrong with wanting to be RICH.
    See even the Archbishop wants to be RICH.

    April 7, 2014 at 1:34 am |
    • samspade2010

      Matthew 19:23 – 24 23 And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

      April 7, 2014 at 2:50 am |
      • jpherling

        You might be quoting the Bible to an atheist, which will do nothing to refute his opinion or influence his thinking. A more logical argument is that, depending on one's morality, it might be wrong to hurt people in the process of being and remaining rich.

        April 7, 2014 at 10:39 am |
    • frosty13148

      being rich here isn't the problem, it's saying your doing God's work and abusing the status. They are suppose to minister to the needs of the poor, the rich and in between. The needs range from comfort of the soul to physical comforts. the whole system from the pope down through are chosen by men, not God. If they want to be rich then they need to start over and do it by himself , not from the money of people who believe that what they have given will get them points from God.

      April 7, 2014 at 7:54 am |
    • ugetthefacts

      manipulating as the catholic church has done,, is stealing. Their wealth was gotten from people dying worried about the afterlife the catholic church scared them with, destruction of human life through wars, manipulations with promise of power, taking a cut off the top of donations depriving those the donations were meant for... on and on

      April 7, 2014 at 8:21 am |
  13. jpherling

    Doesn't the NT say something about giving away wealth?

    April 7, 2014 at 12:06 am |
    • saggyroy

      Yeah, but you can beat your slaves. Go figure.

      April 7, 2014 at 5:35 am |
      • frosty13148

        No you cannot beat your slaves, it happened but God doesn't accept it. we live in a country where we are given a free choice of how we live our lives. as soon as the outcome isn't what we desire, we blame God. People smoke cigarettes get cancer and sue the cigarette company. Just the point of saying people do stupid things, they reap what they sew, and then blame everyone else but themselves.

        April 7, 2014 at 8:02 am |
        • midwest rail

          And when evangelicals reap what they sow, what then ? For decades, they have sown hatred and rejection of gay people while gladly embracing adulterers, wife beaters, and the multiple-divorced.

          April 7, 2014 at 8:07 am |
        • joey3467

          If god didn't accept the beating of slaves where are their rules for it in the Bible? It seems if god didn't want people to beat their slaves he could have saved a lot of trouble and said so instead of coming up with a bunch of rules for when it is acceptable to beat them.

          April 7, 2014 at 10:58 am |
        • Akira

          God could have come straight out and forbidden slavery, as He did with lying, stealing, and murder.

          April 7, 2014 at 12:29 pm |
  14. edlf2014

    Not that it is mine or anyone else's right to know, but I wonder what the Archbishop's net worth is.

    April 6, 2014 at 9:27 pm |
    • TruthPrevails1

      When they don't pay taxes, you should have the right to know. The loss of income is a great reason many stay when they no longer believe the tripe they're selling.

      April 7, 2014 at 6:59 am |
      • frosty13148

        sadly the not paying taxes was a good thing for the small churches doing real God's work, greedy man jumped on the bandwagon and swallowed up the good deed.

        April 7, 2014 at 8:04 am |
        • TruthPrevails1

          frosty: I tend to agree. If more christians acted the way my Grandparent's did, I'm not so certain I'd have so much to speak out about when it comes to the belief-those were people who truly followed the golden rule.

          April 7, 2014 at 8:33 am |
  15. Tech

    Just another example of greed, self-aggrandizement, corruption, deceit and deception from the very pulpits that are supposed to preach God's word. Sadly, this is not an exception, but closer to the rule. Whether it's someone spending money intended to help the needy build a mansion for his own use, whether it's a trusted man of the church cloaked in devil's clothing abusing children, or whether its simply another Sunday morning TV evangelist preaching through the tube to pad his pockets....they all have one thing in common....they are manipulators and evil. The churches are controlled by MAN, not by God. If you seek God, you will be sure to find Him in the quiet hush of an evening breeze, in beholdnig a star-lit sky, in the blossom of even the simplest flower, in the miracle of a newborn baby, and in so many other places if you will just open your eyes.

    April 6, 2014 at 8:25 pm |
    • Servant To The Slave

      I do not see any gods in those things you listed. Can you explain further?

      April 6, 2014 at 11:26 pm |
    • saggyroy

      As someone once said – "I don't need to imagine there's a faery behind a rainbow or flower to appreciate the beauty and wonder of it"

      April 7, 2014 at 5:41 am |
    • forwhatsright

      So, what you are saying is that these people are human. Agreed. They suffer from the same failings and sins as the rest of us. They struggle to do what is right, like the rest of us. So, by all means, now when they try to do right, you should dump on them.

      April 7, 2014 at 6:16 am |
      • Akira

        If someone in the private sector did that, diverted money for his own gain, embezzled as it were, what should happen?

        April 7, 2014 at 12:45 pm |
    • frosty13148

      i have been trying to tell people that for years but they just don't get it. they have tunnel vision about man and God. I hope you have better luck.

      April 7, 2014 at 7:41 am |
  16. ryan050973

    And he carried me away in [the power of the] spirit into a wilderness. And I caught sight of a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast that was full of blasphemous names and that had seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and was adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls and had in her hand a golden cup that was full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication. And upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. Revelation 17:3-6

    April 6, 2014 at 6:46 pm |
    • Lucky To Be Me

      Ok, you can copy and paste. What is the point of your post?

      April 6, 2014 at 6:52 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      There were countless books of apocalyptic revelations. There is no reason to accept this one, non-unanimously VOTED by humans into the canon, as authoritative on anything. There is no more reason to label the Romans as the "wh'ore of Babylon" than any of the other cults today with vast resources.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWjtXasqPFM&w=640&h=360]

      April 6, 2014 at 6:55 pm |
    • sburns54

      Cool, man! I saw that same beast with seven heads and the scarlet woman, man! What a trip that was. Those Orange Barrels were some killer acid, huh?

      April 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm |
    • magickllc

      Our Lady is the Mother of All Things. Babylon is the city of the Goddess. And her number is 777.

      Oh and fornication is actually good...

      April 6, 2014 at 7:48 pm |
    • sandcanyongal

      Good post. Reading the story as a fable, greed corrupts and blinds good judgment. This pope is hopefully different from the popes before him. The Catholic Church sure needs a leader. Ignoring rampant pedophilia destroyed their credibility.

      April 6, 2014 at 10:51 pm |
    • lewcypher

      quoting your bible is like an 8 year old stabbing at you with their pretend Star Wars light saber ............. cute and ineffective.

      April 7, 2014 at 8:09 am |
  17. jsnight

    A 2 million+ house and he spent 42+ million renovating. That's impossible, isn't it?

    April 6, 2014 at 6:31 pm |
    • hotairace

      The 42m was spent on a house in Germany.

      April 6, 2014 at 6:36 pm |
  18. ausphor

    Do any of you believers have any idea of where the idea of t!thing began, where did it start?

    April 6, 2014 at 6:22 pm |
    • Lucky To Be Me

      Jewish taxation system I believe.

      April 6, 2014 at 6:50 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      In ancient Israel, a portion of the harvest was to be set aside for the priests, (the lazy class) (and it was not a "tenth", it was more). THEY were then to put aside (from that) a tenth of THAT into the storehouse, to use in times of famine, and stress. It was never that the people had to give the priests (or their deity or the temple) "one tenth".

      April 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm |
  19. ifhorseshadgods

    "What we didn't stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed,"
    So .. it used to be ok for priests to live like billionaires but now with a new Pope it's not ok. I guess the bible doesn't give much direction on the disdain for wealthy, egotistical control freaks. Yeah, I think there's a passage or two they could refer too if they actually believed it themselves.

    April 6, 2014 at 5:50 pm |
    • ugetthefacts

      I don't see the pope giving any money away. He's a con man and nothing more.

      April 6, 2014 at 6:19 pm |
      • hotairace

        He won't even give up information about pedophile priests and the criminals protecting them within the RCC, never mind tangible assets! What is he hiding?

        April 6, 2014 at 6:23 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Well, actually, being a stickler for facts, I have to ask about that. It appears he is out doing just that, (giving money to the poor), not that it excuses the crimes against humanity they perpetrated on children.
          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2517275/Pope-Francis-sneaking-Vatican-night-money-poor.html

          April 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm |
        • ugetthefacts

          all PR BS.

          If he were a good person he would have gone to the aid of children victims whose lives were destroyed due to the cover ups. Instead, he enables bishops to lobby against victims and their families. A good person would have made this issue #1. However a person who deflects, will play games of kissing a deformed person, giving a few dollars away and telling bishops to keep their wealth hidden.

          April 6, 2014 at 7:10 pm |
        • hotairace

          No, it is alleged that he might be and one of his minions would not confirm that he is. Until it is shown that he is, the rational skeptic view is that he is not.

          April 6, 2014 at 7:11 pm |
        • realbuckyball

          Well actually the Italian press has interviewed people who have run into him doing this. So I guess, he maybe is doing it.

          April 6, 2014 at 10:54 pm |
  20. ugetthefacts

    If there is a good god, please send the popes, cardinals and bishops, and those who support them to hell. They have destroyed and continue to destroy children. They are the lowest form of mankind. Their reputation and power are more important to them than the children's lives they destroyed and who suffer today.

    April 6, 2014 at 5:23 pm |
    • seedenbetter

      I agree. I'm as disgusted and repulsed with the sheep/pedophile supporters as I am with the child rapists they support. The RCC is a most vile pedophile infested cult.

      April 7, 2014 at 9:14 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.