Only a couple months after the so-called “Bling Bishop,” who Pope Francis had reassigned for making expensive and illustrious renovations to his home in Limburg, Archbishop Wilton Daniel Gregory has issued a public apology to Atlanta and Catholics everywhere for building a multi-million dollar home for himself. The gross misappropriation of funds in both of these examples are at a striking contrast to the message of humility and serving the poor that Pope Francis has been come to be known by during his short tenure as Pope.
These examples of deluxe lifestyle improvements are assuredly nothing new for the Church but as Pope Francis has begun to gain more and more popularity around the world for his message of humble simplicity there has become more and more criticism to church leaders who do not follow in the pontif’s footsteps.
Archbishop Gregory’s residence cost $2.2 million to construct and covers 6,400 square feet. The mansion was able to be built because of Joseph Mitchell, nephew of the famous author Margaret Mitchell, who left the Archdiocese of Atlanta a generous gift of $15 million when he died in 2011. The Mitchell family has been well off financially ever since Margaret Mitchell’s epic novel Gone With the Wind became a huge success on the silver screen. There is also a museum, known as the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta.
The money that Joseph Mitchell left was to be used for charitable work and although there is no word at this time as to what happened to the rest of the money, many Catholics around the world are furious with Archbishop Gregory’s selfish behavior.
After AP reported on Gregory’s ill-advised conduct the Archbishop has received a number of angry letters and phone calls. Gregory wrote an apology which was published in The Georgia Bulletin that said that while he was able to justify this home project fiscally, he personally, failed to see the costs that it would charge on his integrity and public credibility as a pasture. He also added that he failed to consider the families in his archdiocese who were currently struggling to pay their mortgages, bills or school tuition yet answer his calls to help the church by giving what they can.
The mansion that Gregory built was a part of a deal that saw the purchase of his old residency, which would be renovated and made a residency for priests in the area. Gregory is scheduled to meet with a diocesean council and says that plans to follow whatever course the council lays out for him, a course that could include the sale of the $2.2 million dollar home.
No word has been issued from Pope Francis on this matter at this time, however, Archbishop Gregory did say that he takes responsibility for what was done and the he did not consider “that the world and the Church have changed. The example of the Holy Father,” and the way people have followed his teachings have set a new standard for the way Catholics and others should act.
By Nick Manai