An Atlanta archbishop has promised to sell his $2.2 million mansion after parishioners criticized his opulent lifestyle for being in contrast to Pope Francis' calls for church austerity.
Pope Francis, who lives in a guest house and rolls on public buses, has strongly urged church leaders to set an example and live humbly. Those who do not, like a guy with the nickname "Bling Bishop," have been asked to take a hike.
This made for exceptionally bad timing when Archbishop Wilton Gregory decided to use part of a charitable contribution to the church to build a $2.2 million mansion for himself, complete with elevator, panic room and two dining rooms (plans for a wine cellar were dropped). Gregory moved in three months ago, but has faced significant backlash from parishioners. Earlier this week, he apologized, saying "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 example of the Holy Father, and the way people of every sector of our society have responded to his message of gentle joy and compassion without pretense, has set the bar for every Catholic and even for many who don't share our communion," Wilton wrote on the archdiocese's website.
At the time, he said he had not decided whether or not to sell the house. Today, he has.
"I have decided to sell the Habersham property and invest the proceeds from that sale into the needs of the Catholic community,” Gregory said in a statement.
Gregory lived in the mansion for three months. He'll move out early next month.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.