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Feb 24 2014

The church has priorities

The archdiocese of Newark has been closing up schools, pleading poverty — they’ve passed on their regrets to their congregations, but you know how it is, the Catholic church is spread so thin and struggling so hard to stay solvent. Personally, I’d rejoice in that — may they soon go bankrupt and disappear — but strangely, they don’t seem to lack money for the truly important investments.

John J. Myers, the archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese, comes to this vacation home on many weekends. The 4,500-square-foot home has a handsome amoeba-shaped swimming pool out back. And as he’s 72, and retirement beckons in two years, he has renovations in mind. A small army of workers are framing a 3,000-square-foot addition.

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.

Wow. So this is how institutions are supposed to support their people? I wonder if the University of Minnesota would mind building me a mansion somewhere nearby, and I wonder how they’d react if I asked for extensive renovations to make it more comfortable for myself after I retire?

I’ll have to make an appointment with the chancellor to make plans.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    MarkM1427

    Hopefully more priests do this and financially exsanguinate the church. It doesn’t bother me in the least to see them pissing away the church’s money on petty bullshit like this. It may actually be the only thing they can spend money on without harming anyone outside of their cult.

  2. 2
    Cuttlefish

    Good thing the simple life embraced by the new pope has trickled down; I’d hate to see what this mansion would look like if Ratzinger were still in charge.

  3. 3
    grumpyoldfart

    The church will never run out of money because the mugs in the pews top it up each week.

  4. 4
    Marcus Ranum

    I am guessing he probably lives there tax-free, too.

  5. 5
    anteprepro

    Gotta love it. Even the non-ridiculously wealthy churches turning the lead demogogue into a plutocrat at very least gives the preacher man a waaaaaaay too cushy of a job. Why too much money for way too little work. And no-one bats an eye, because they fear it is too anti-religious to say “maybe the guy who works for two hours a week reading from a Bible doesn’t deserve as much money as we are giving to him?”. They have quite a racket.

  6. 6
    anteprepro

    Good thing the simple life embraced by the new pope has trickled down; I’d hate to see what this mansion would look like if Ratzinger were still in charge.

    The torture chamber would be near the kitchen instead of being in the basement.

  7. 7
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    So this is how institutions are supposed to support their people?

    Well, yah. They are supporting construction workers, architects, furniture makers, bricklayers, a small army of workers.

  8. 8
    robro

    Cuttlefish — Pianos. I read recently that Ratzo likes to play Mozart.

    Marcus — Of course, if it’s owned by the church, which I assume is the case, there would be no property tax. I suppose it could be construed as compensation…do priests pay income tax? I’ve never known…but if so, the IRS would have to pursue it which seems unlikely.

    This is pretty stunning. The archdiocese is financially strapped so it’s closing schools, which at least bring in some money and keep the faithful, well, faithful, meanwhile building an old guy a manse to rattle around in. That’s a level of fiscal irresponsibility I expect only from governments and the military.

  9. 9
    mikeyb

    Cmon, excising both your intellect and sexual life has to have some compensatory perks, don’t they? Especially if both heaven and purgatory turn out to be myths. As they say, on earth as it is in heaven….

  10. 10
    geekysteve

    @9 mikeyb,

    I’d believe the bit about excising intellect, but come on now, “excising sexual life” — I’d have to see some evidence that was true for even a slim majority of priests before I’d believe it.

  11. 11
    Dick the Damned

    JJ Myers is a Catholic priest,
    who thinks upon poverty at least,
    as he swims in his pool,
    thinking he’s no fool,
    cos it’s only god’s palm that he’s greased.

    He’s defended the poor and the meek,
    to earn a mansion by Capoolong Creek,
    set in affluent Hunterdon County,
    where he counts his sacerdotal bounty;
    Catholic hypocrisy, most surely, does reek.

  12. 12
    ChasCPeterson

    Dick: it rhymes but it don’t scan.
    keep the day job.

  13. 13
    Pierce R. Butler

    But won’t somebody please think of all the children – that Archbishop Myers is saving from indoctrination!

  14. 14
    PDX_Greg

    Bet it has a lot of closet space for that rattling pile of skeletons …

  15. 15
    microraptor

    How exactly does one construct an amoeba shaped swimming pool?

  16. 16
    latsot

    From what I understand, the Archdiocese is saying that the new extension is basically free – it won’t cost parishioners anything – because the money is coming from the sale of other properties. I have to wonder why they have properties they don’t need in the first place and why they didn’t sell them long ago and give the money to people who need it.

  17. 17
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @latsot:

    This won’t be spending any money donated by any parishioner! What an outrageous accusation! What we’re doing is selling a couple of things that we bought with money donated by parishioners and using the cash from the sale to pay for the upgrade. See? No parishioners involved!

    Yeah. I’m not buying it.

  18. 18
    latsot

    @Crip:

    Yeah, not very convincing, is it?

    Maybe they should give the parishioners a rebate.

  19. 19
    strangerinastrangeland

    These are actually peanuts regarding to the German archbischop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. His residence was supposed to cost € 5.5 million ($ 7.6 million) which – as was found out later – he knew from the beginning would be far exceeded and something he tried to conceal through false statements and using unauthorised payments. The final costs are estimated to go up to € 40 million, including costs for a chapel, a privat museum, conference halls, a $ 20000 bathtub, a $ 35000 conference table, etc. (Fun fact: The diocese of Limburg did cut the salaries of its employees previous to the construction to save money.)
    Tebartz-van Elst got in the end a slapp on the wrist from his line manager in the Vatican and is currently living in a college in Rome but hopes to return to Limburg soon.

    Where religious people not suppose to be so much more ethical and moral compared to us evil atheists?

  20. 20
    stever

    @microraptor:
    > How exactly does one construct an amoeba shaped swimming pool?

    Gunite. With sprayed concrete over custom-bent rebar it’s actually easier to do a random blob shape than a rectangle.

  21. 21
    Jerry

    Well, Cardinals are known as “Princes of the Church”, and the title does flow downwards to Archbishops and Bishops (etc.). How else are they to remember they are better than mere mortals than to live this lavish royal lifestyle? _Serve_ their flock? Live in _poverty_ and give away to the _poor_? You jest. /sarcasm /mockery /disgust

  22. 22
    methuseus

    And people wonder why I was uneasy with being Catholic? Obviously just one of many reasons though….

  23. 23
    David Marjanović

    “maybe the guy who works for two hours a week reading from a Bible doesn’t deserve as much money as we are giving to him?”

    If you mean “do something actually useful” by “work”, then perhaps. Otherwise, keep in mind that Catholic priests (and all the higher ranks stay priests) must read a Mass at least once a day, every day of the rest of their lives, no matter if anybody other than God listens.

  24. 24
    David Marjanović

    …uh, I should have cut the quote down to “works for two hours a week”. And I shouldn’t have overlooked the “reading from a Bible” part, damnit. I should go to bed.

  25. 25
    chrisv

    Arch this…Holy See that…Monsignor this…College of Cardinals that…all bull. An ancient bureaucracy…hypocritical swine feeding at the trough. A scourge. Proof of the existence of memes. What else explains how this silliness endures?

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