The New York Times has a report on the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, which is apparently so poor that it was forced to close down one of its schools. But not so poor that it can’t spend more than half a million dollars on an expansion for the retirement home of its current archbishop, which was already 4,500 square feet.
This new wing will have an indoor exercise pool, three fireplaces and an elevator. The Star-Ledger of Newark has noted that the half-million-dollar tab for this wing does not include architects’ fees or furnishings.
There’s no need to fear for the archbishop’s bank account. The Newark Archdiocese is picking up the bill.
Jim Goodness, the spokesman for the archdiocese, has the thankless job of explaining this. “The press says it’s a hot tub; it’s a whirlpool,” he says of one of the wing’s accouterments. “He’s getting older — there are therapeutic issues.”
The proceeds from the sale of other properties owned by the archdiocese, he explained, will pay for the expansion. “It is not going to cost our parishioners anything,” he said.
I felt compelled to ask: Couldn’t this half million dollars go to, oh, more meals for the homeless? “Any extra monies will go to the diocese,” he replied.
Pope Francis I has put the focus on serving the poor and on reducing the church leadership’s opulent lifestyles, including his own. And I believe he’s sincere about that. But if he is, this is a really good place to wield his authority and put a stop to it.