Atlanta Archbishop to Sell $2.2 Million Mansion

[LEFT]Archbishop Wilton Gregory announced the decision following a closed-door meeting with members of several church councils at his headquarters north of Atlanta. He publicly apologized Monday for building the Tudor-style residence and will move out in early May.

“I have decided to sell the Habersham property and invest the proceeds from that sale into the needs of the Catholic community,” Gregory told The Associated Press after the meeting. He declined to take questions.

Gregory sold his previous home to Christ The King Cathedral, which plans to expand it and house its priests there. The archbishop said this week that if the church sold the new mansion, he would seek to live in a setting more modest than his current or previous home.[/LEFT]

That wooshing sound you hear is the sound of thousands of wealthy donors rushing to change their wills now that a new sheriff is in town. While it’s nice that our current pontiff expects us all to live in a state of abject poverty and give everything we have to the poor, the real world doesn’t work like that. Like the poor, the rich will always be with us as well, and we as a Church have a duty to the rich. That duty is to be good stewards of the gifts that are bestowed daily on us. The rich likewise have a duty to seek out the best stewards and entrust their surplus of wealth to them, in order that it does the most good.

For Lent I undertook a practice of almsgiving that ties in with my fasting. I resolved to eat half of what I used to, and attempt to give away the other half to someone who is hungry. I am mostly met with gratitude, but one of my “regulars” started asking for money as well as the food. No, I don’t give money to beggars. I give my money to the parish where it can be used for the good of the whole community at the discretion of the Finance Council, who are doing very well in their duties.

The sale of assets is simply a tragedy when it has to happen. I would not be upset over this if the property were a liability to the Archdiocese, but it is an asset. It was something that could be used to house clerics and entertain donors, and that entertainment of donors would put money back into the coffers of the Archdiocese year after year for as long as they held the property. If it were managed shrewdly, it would be a profitable asset.

So what happened today is that the Archdiocese just lost an enormous opportunity at earning money on a long-term basis, in the name of serving the poor. I hope the poor are happy.

Archbishop Gregory has made a mockery of himself and the Church by building this palace. What was he thinking? How many of us would make the same errors if we were in his place?

But we are not in his place.


The fact is that the money used in this project was taken primarily from a bequeathment intended for use in charitable causes. People are much less likely to make donations if they find out that the money they are donating is being, shall we say, misappropriated whether they’re rich or not.

Best perspective yet I have seen about this controversy. I understand why people outside the Archdiocese would be up in arms, particularly in areas where housing is actually sane and affordable. The Buckhead area of Atlanta, is insanely priced. The fact that it only cost a little over 2.2M to build is remarkable in that area. A new Post Office costs way more than that to build these days, on a common piece of land.

The Archdiocese will make a profit on the deal only to have to turn around and face the same problem. Where is he going to live? Guess what, now it will have to be in a highrise, gated condo community, or something like that with little access to the residence for anyone, except the ArchBishop himself. The man works from sunup to sundown most of the time. I had a job once where I had to entertain SOME, and it is a ROYAL drag after a while. You have to work during the day, and then at night, be around a bunch of people you don’t really know and be pleasant when you really would rather have some time on the couch ALONE. It is very stressful.

I would not trade places with the AB for anything. I am glad he likes the job, he is a good and worthy shepheard, we are fortunate to have him. Bling spent 45M folks. You could buy a small posh hotel chain for that kind of money. Elizium23 is right. The big loser here is the Archdiocese of Atlanta.

If an apartment is good enough for the Pope then why not an Archbishop?

Fortunately for the Pope, he does not have to raise money for the Church by entertaining parishioners in his dining room. He also does not have to house out of town guests under his roof, unless he chooses to do so. When the Pope does choose to have dinner with others, the Vatican has well equipped banquet facilities I imagine.

The house he is about to sell now, was the cheapest one in the neighborhood. :smiley:

So what was the problem with the mansion that stood there before? And btw - I’m not buying the argument that appeals to vanity or avarice are the only or even best ways to raise money. People are more convinced to donate money when they A) Know that the money will be used for its intended purpose and B) Can see the impact of donations with their own eyes. Opulent settings don’t convince people to donate to any cause especially when they’ve just witnessed an endowment intended for charity used to create that environment.

Well said my friend. :thumbsup:

THAT is the only question left in my mind as well. If it had been adequate, I can’t see them tearing it down. Gregory assembled a committee of financial advisors and others, whose interest was with the Archdiocese, along with the campus of the Cathedral, which has no building or expansion space.

The Pope lives in a $20 million hotel with 106 suites, 22 single rooms and one apartment.

The Pope “entertains” in the Papal Apartments and St. Peter’s Basilica/Square. The Pope governs a good-sized micronation with lots of space for a sizable bureaucracy, not to mention Castel Gandolfo, etc.

The Diocese of Rome owns plenty of property. Why aren’t they selling it all off?

Really? You think so? My father was the Episcopal Rector for a very wealthy parish in the Diocese of Atlanta. These rich parishioners expect to at least spend a little quality time with the Rector before writing a big check. That is just the way it is. When you go to a fancy jewelry store in a major city they serve wine… did you know that? When you go to a play, they serve wine and cheese to their loyal season ticket holders, thanking them for their patronage.

Sending out some return address labels or a calendar is not going to get you a check for fifteen thousand dollars. This is what fundraisers do. This is why I am not a fundraiser, that would drive me out of my mind. It did when I was a kid. I am too much of a lone wolf. I felt like our house was the churches house not ours, and guess what, it WAS the Church’s house. That is the Archbishop’s night job. He has a day job too, just like my Dad.

My own parish has a convent, a rectory, and a good-sized social hall. Currently the two living quarters are pretty full, with two priests, three sisters, and a postulant.

The convent has enough space that we use one room as overflow meeting space and another room as our Saint Vincent de Paul pantry. So you see, by owning the convent, we are actually serving the poor well: if we sold the convent and gave the money to the poor, then they could eat and live in a hotel for a little while but then they would have nothing, and we would not have sisters to serve the parish.

Our rectory has space for several priests to live comfortably, up to three or four. We are typically only assigned one or two, so there is space to spare. Should we sell it because it is too much? That would be illogical. The rectory is immediately adjacent to the parish campus. The priests spend zero on transportation costs to commute to “work”. The priests are always available for emergencies and routine things such as locking the church at night, after all our maintenance staff has gone home. It is just good security to have a few people living on-site.

Our social hall is comfortably large for many parish events. It sometimes costs us money to repair and improve it. If we sold it and gave the money to the poor, then they could eat and live in a hotel for a little while. But we would no longer have a kitchen or a gathering space. The parish ministries such as Knights of Columbus would have nowhere to hold fund-raisers. Our annual gala parish fund-raiser would be … what, off-site? Catered at a rented hall? Outside with rented canopies and tables and chairs? Not raising much money anymore if you do that.

This is just as tragic as a parish closing. A well-constructed building on a good parcel of land is a profitable asset when managed correctly. This archbishop is rightly afraid for his own job security if he does not comply with the outcry from above and from below. But he is merely a victim, a casualty, collateral damage in the War against Poverty being waged now in earnest not only by liberals in the U.S. but by the highest posts in the Holy See.

The Vatican owns more than “plenty of property.” It owns 20% of all property in Italy in addition to a number of properties outside Italy. I would argue that they should sell much of it off, especially those properties which serve no religious function whatsoever.

Many charities receive large donations and endowments from wealthy individuals without the pomp and circumstance. Its one thing if you’re hoping to raise a lot of money all at once, but you don’t need a $2.2 million mansion to host the occasional fundraiser and thats not how you hook longterm donors. You might be surprised at the amount of money which is raised just by letting people see with their own eyes what good donations are doing and their particular donation would do. If you’re selling quality time with a person instead of the charity itself then you’re going down the wrong path. It is also true that you will scare potential donors away by misappropriating donations; which is what happened here. People, especially wealthy donors, want to know how much of their donation is being used for overhead as opposed to the cause itself and that figure influences their decision more than fancy dinners or meet-and-greets.

PS: I get passionate during a spirited debate * but in print, it can come off as being angry. I am not in the least bit angry and apologize if it comes across that way.:D*

OK. So now, I’m really confused. Does selling the “mansion” to Christ the King really solve the problem? It seems to me we’re playing “musical houses”.

Put the AB back into his “old” house which was supposed to be remodeled for the priests. Put the six priests into the “new” mansion which, by the way, has only four bedrooms.

Am I missing something?

So it’s been a year, why has Pope Francis not moved to do so? Why not in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, which surely has plenty of precious real estate and sacred vessels and furnishings, was he not celebrating Mass in a mud hut with wooden chalice and home-baked bread?

Perhaps because the Holy Father deep down also realizes that he is a steward of the goods which have been given to his care. The Church may “own” property in a legal sense, but this is only so because the laity have contributed money or the property itself in charity. The community is the true owner of this property, and the Church has a sacred duty to care for this property, make it available to all the people, and ensure its fruitfulness for coming generations.

Just as a piece of real estate with a building on top of it may be a profitable asset in terms of money, a chalice is a profitable asset in that it continually nourishes the faithful with the Eucharist, and it is a source of pride for priest and assembly alike when it is used and displayed at Mass. A chalice is often a treasured gift from a donor or family member to a priest. Likewise, sacred art and vestments may not directly earn money, but they uplift and edify the faithful. More to the point, all of these items keep people employed.

Sometimes it may seem like an expensive project is a waste of money for the Church, but we have to look at the wealth being redistributed and where it ultimately ends up. I don’t know about you, but my parish likes to employ Catholics. 100% of our staff is Catholic, we patronize Catholic companies for our goods and services, and the majority of our contractors are also. In fact, a gardener came in the other day to book a Mass intention. That is $10 that came right back into the parish after we had put it into his paycheck. I personally tithe 10% of my gross income right back to the parish which employs me. When the Church commissions a work of art, when she undertakes a rewiring project, when she builds an Archbishop’s residence, she is putting money into the pockets of working people. People think that only volunteers do the heavy lifting in the Church but she is in reality a huge employer, when you consider her worldwide reach and all associated organizations, including schools and hospitals and the like.

Take a look at an English manor house, like the one portrayed on Downton Abbey. It’s easy to point and say that this filthy-rich family should take care of the poor by selling their things, but they too are mere custodians of a legacy. They manage a network of businesses that keeps all kinds of people employed. There are servants right in the house, farms on the estate, and an associated village with all kinds of businesses, all which depend on the manor itself to survive. And part of the drama in that show is about the money troubles encountered by the heads of the estate and how they fight to keep the lights on. They are fighting not just for family dignity and a good glass of wine and a cigar, but for a legacy they have been entrusted with, a legacy that they want to last for future centuries, and for the lifestyles of hundreds of people who depend on them.

So I predict that in the years of Francis’ reign we will not see a lot of assets being sold off by the Vatican and turned into handouts for the poor, but we will see a lot of demands for this kind of behavior worldwide, based on the Francis Effect, which is the successor to the Spirit of Vatican II. The Francis Effect is one which is manufactured by liberals and their mainstream media, the same kind of Effect which led us to believe that Saint Francis of Assisi was a bird-loving bunny hugger, when even poor St. Francis argued for precious sacred vessels and the fitting grandeur of church furnishings and buildings.

He may yet.

So you’re saying it should keep its secular luxury resorts, shopping malls, sports centers, etc?

A proper comparison would be if they had inherited the manor then tore it down and built a new manor three times larger and more luxurious. You don’t help the poor by using a bequeathment intended for charity for the purpose of building a mansion for the archbishop.

Perhaps you didn’t read or understand my post. A construction project creates jobs. A bigger residence creates more jobs than a smaller residence. First you’re going to need teams of contractors to do demolition. Then design and construction on the new one. Contractors for plumbing, electrical, and all the other things. Then once it’s built, it requires upkeep and maintenance. Either people on staff or contractors to routinely come in, and clean the place, repair things, plumbing, electrical, telecom.

I mean really. Whenever the Church (or the Government) undertakes a project, people act like the cost is being doused with gasoline and burned for warmth. It’s not - it’s going into someone else’s pockets. The question is whether those pockets are deserving of redistributed wealth. Liberals would rather have the government tax us into poverty and then give it to whoever can jump through the hoops of bureacracy.

Perhaps you will recall the year Downton was converted into a hospital for the war casualties. This is a good example of stewardship of goods without selling off valuable assets. The estate was repurposed temporarily and served a need. Sometimes parish churches open their doors during the day for the homeless to sleep there. Perhaps existing parcels of land, or buildings could be used to serve the poor. But selling them off entirely and spending the proceeds is (usually) just stupid.

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