Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Too Late for Tara

Archbishop Wilton Gregory's Tara 

The gracious living of the “Old South” ain’t the only thing Gone with the Wind. It looks like Archbishop Myers and Bishop Tebartz van Elst aren’t the only ones coming under scrutiny for their new and costly residences.  Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory recently built a 2.2 million dollar residence and now is ‘fessing up about it.  It seems that Joseph Mitchell, nephew and heir of Margaret Mitchell (author of Gone with the Wind) left 15 million dollars to the Archdiocese with the bulk of it earmarked for the Cathedral—Mr. Mitchell’s parish.  The Cathedral had an expansion program that required the demolition of the clergy house and so the parish bought the Archbishop’s residence to use as a Cathedral rectory.  Thus the Archbishop needed to find a new place to live.  Archbishops have meetings and also host social events connected to fund-raising and charities.  His advisors were only too quick to “discern” what the Archbishop might need and Mitchell’s one story home in a fashionable neighborhood was torn down and a handsome Tudor Revival mansion built on its site.  In addition to suites for the Archbishop and several of his key aides, the house has several large meeting rooms as well as more formal rooms for receptions and social events.  There was a time when no one would have thought twice of a bishop owning such a home, but Pope Francis’ style has changed all that.  Unlike Myers or Tebartz-van-Elst, Gregory got the message early on and has signaled his willingness to move and have the home sold should the various diocesan advisory groups recommend that course.  Given the publicity they can hardly do elsewise. 
Gregory issued a statement saying:  “I am disappointed that, while my advisors 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 went on to say: 
"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," he added.
Unlike the home of Archbishop Myers, Gregory’s residence does not belong to him personally, but to the Archdiocese.  Whether or not the Archdiocese sells it, it would be surprising if Archbishop Gregory doesn’t move out and into somewhat more discreet quarters.  

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