Newbishop John Myers made headlines a year ago.
Myers the scoundrel spent 1,300,000 Dollars on His Retirement Estate. He arranged for a 800,000-dollar retirement estate for himself. This 33,000-square-meter wooded property boasts a house with five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, and a large outdoor pool. The parishioners called for justice but their lament only fell on deaf ears!
( North Jersey) – POPE FRANCIS is putting his house in order before coming to the United States in September. It is time for Newark Archbishop John Myers to literally do the same.
Last week, the Vatican announced it was ending its takeover of an American nuns’ organization that represents a majority of women religious in the United States. The Leadership Conference of Women Religious got caught in the cross-hairs of Pope Benedict XVI’s assault on independent American nuns.
As the Vatican saw it three years ago, American nuns were way too concerned with helping the poor and ministering to the disenfranchised rather than focusing their energies on teaching the church’s position on abortion, birth control and same-sex marriage. Additionally, the nuns were talking about women’s role in the church and questioning too many things that — well — women should not question. In Benedict’s church, women — especially nuns — were supposed to understand that ordained men knew better.
Enter a new pope not inclined to fancy the expensive Italian footwear beloved by Benedict XVI and more inclined to serve the poor. While Francis has not moved the theological needle one inch — and he is unlikely to — he has moved something more intrinsic to the values of the Catholic Church. He has moved bishops out of their comfort zones and, in some cases, right out of their mansions and dioceses.
To Francis, bishops and their pride are more harmful to the message of the church than thousands of nuns tending to the sick and poor. The Vatican’s nuns’ inquisition was fueled by angry bishops who could not make these women bow to their will. Francis would rather side with the people who minister to the poor than with the men in the big houses. That brings me back to Myers and his retirement mansion.
It has been many months since the 7,000-plus square-foot mansion has been in the news. The house is still just as big and just as unjustified. And I suspect it is not out Francis’ sight.
From what I understand, Myers’ health has not been good this winter. Losing the mansion is not personal; it is not an attack on Myers, the man. But the mansion is not a perk for the archbishop, it’s an insult to the people of the archdiocese. Why Myers does not see it as such is a mystery.
The archdiocese has maintained that the funds to expand a 4,500-square foot house by 3,000 square feet came not from church funds but from the sale of other church properties. The sale of unused church property should be used for the betterment of the church, not the archbishop.
Myers is entitled to a comfortable retirement residence. A mansion? Not so much. Whether Francis would force the archbishop to sell the house and perhaps retire early is unknown. But Myers will have to answer to Francis. Other less notable bishops have seen their respective Wayne Manors disappear. What’s that childhood saying? Scissor cuts paper, but papal rock crushes bishop.
On the other coast in San Francisco another archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, is doing battle as well. Prominent Catholics took out a full-page newspaper ad in the San Francisco Chronicle on Thursday asking the pope to remove the archbishop.
Cordileone is not being criticized for living large, but administering mean. He is enforcing church doctrine with a vengeance — particularly the doctrine relating to homosexuality and how it applies to gays and lesbians working for the archdiocese.
The archdiocese can fire employees who stray from church teachings, but most dioceses use some discretion. The Catholics who paid for the ad claim Cordileone has “fostered an atmosphere of division and intolerance.” Again, another bishop who did not get the “Who am I to judge?” memo.
Bishops have a responsibility to be faithful to church teachings, but those teachings are more ,expansive than reproductive rights and marriage choices. That is what Francis has been saying since Day One. Tone matters. Cordileone should recognize that there is a large gay population in San Francisco and he needs to find language that builds bridges rather than fires in a medieval pit in the lowest level of hell.
The papal representative to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, has a plate full of piping hot U.S. archbishops. Before Francis arrives in the United States, both the situations around Myers and Cordileone need to chill.
The Vatican’s decision to drop the takeover of the largest organization representing American nuns is a clear sign that the pope will not devalue the ministry of thousands of women just to validate the primacy of a few men wearing miters and carrying crosiers.
There may be more to what is happening in San Francisco than meets the eye, but Cordileone, an appointee of Benedict, has some explaining to do. No one expects him to embrace same-sex marriage, but everyone, including the pope, expects him to embrace every individual as a person of worth.
There are many sins. One of the deadly ones is pride.
When Francis comes to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and perhaps even Cuba this fall, he will be greeted by millions of people who see him as a seminal figure in the life of the modern church. Francis will likely not change church positions on same-sex unions or the ordination of women, but he will change bishops’ positions. He will make them kneel, not before him or even before God, but before the people they serve.
In this church there is no room for a bishop’s pride. That’s true even if you choose to live in something as palatial as a 7,000-plus-square-foot mansion.