Pope Peer Pressures Bishops Into Actually Adhering To Their Vow of Poverty

The archbishop of Atlanta offended a lot of his parishioners recently when he used donated funds to build himself a $2.2 million-dollar, 6,000-square-foot mansion. Writing for the Times, Michael Paulson connects the Atlanta incident to a broader sea change led by the Pope, who has called for a “a church which is poor and for the poor,” and says it breaks his heart when he sees priests driving around in brand new cars.

As for Archbishop Gregory of Atlanta, he has apologized and promised to “seek guidance” as to whether or not he should put his new house on the market. Weak, but okay:

“While my advisers 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 with the people of God of north and central Georgia,” he wrote. “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.”

UM YEAH, you think? Also you took a vow of poverty, dude. [EDITED TO ADD: Whoops, not all priests take vows of poverty, per a few helpful commenters. I guess this is what I get for being so judgmental. And I think this means I have officially shed my Catholic upbringing. You win some you lose some.]

Anyway, turns out bishops all over the country are getting the hint and selling their palazzos and mansions and so on and moving into more modest apartments. Meanwhile, New York’s archbishop Timothy Dolan lives on Madison Avenue in something known as “the powerhouse.” Cool.

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6 Comments / Post A Comment

limenotapple (#1,748)

I was raised Catholic, and do not identify with it anymore, but I thought I’d mention that diocesan priests, the ones in parishes, don’t take vows of poverty, it’s just priests in certain orders who take a vow of poverty. But yeah, it still sucks, and I dig the new pope for calling it out.

limenotapple (#1,748)

@limenotapple Also, just in case anyone is interested (I was) here is what one diocese pays its priests: http://www.catholiccincinnati.org/ministries-offices/human-resources-office/salaries/ also they get paid extra for each mass/wedding/funeral. Also they don’t have to pay for housing out of that salary. And they get an extra $16.xx a month for each year of service, and quite a good pension. I could make that go a long way if I didn’t have housing costs!

Winter (#4,527)

@limenotapple

I don’t think they are paid a high salary at all, even with the free housing. Especially considering they oversee multiple masses and administer way more sacraments than a Protestant.

Winter (#4,527)

@limenotapple Yes- I believe they make promises to live simply, but no vows. Archbishop Gregory was wrong, but if I were the author, I’d consider editing the post so it’s at least factual. And I’m not even Catholic.

Meaghano (#529)

@limenotapple Crazy. Thanks for pointing it out, I had no idea (obviously, heh). I was raised Catholic and spent my most of my life in Catholic school and was never taught this — that there was a difference between diocesen and religious priests. Now I know why it wasn’t mentioned in the original article. And why my parish priest growing up wore a Rolex and drove a BMW!

limenotapple (#1,748)

@Meaghano I had a similar upbringing, and didn’t know about the vow of poverty thing until today. I always assumed there was one! And our priests were the same way.

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