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Archbishop Myers sends the wrong message again

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Feb 17, 2014

Newark’s Archbishop John Myers was handled roughly by the media last year. First there were the stories about a priest who, after a plea-bargaining agreement that he would not work in youth ministry, was in fact involved with youth ministry. Then the stories about the $1.35 million the Peoria, Illinois diocese spent to settle a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who reported sexual abuse while then-Bishop Myers was stationed there. Later in the year there was yet another report about a priest still living in a rectory after a sex-abuse accusation.

A pastor resigned. The vicar general of the archdiocese resigned. But Archbishop Myers staunchly defended his own actions (and/or inactions) as “appropriate at the time.” In August he lashed out at the media, accusing reporters of a “historical and present relationship or animus against our Roman Catholic Faith and its Teachings,” and warning that “God will surely address them in due time.” When the Vatican appointed a coadjutor archbishop to Newark, he insisted that he had asked for help, and the criticism leveled against him played no part in the appointment.

No doubt the archbishop’s prickly attitude made reporters all the more eager to criticize him. (You know the old adage: Don’t get in a public debate with people who buy their ink by the barrel.) And now it appears that the tone-deaf prelate has provided his critics with another juicy topic. At a time when thousands of Catholics in the Newark archdiocese are struggling to keep current with their mortgage payments, the archdiocese is adding a $500,000 wing to the archbishop’s retirement home, which is already valued at $800,000.

The new wing, now just a wood frame, will include an indoor exercise pool, a hot tub, three fireplaces, a library and an elevator, among other amenities, according to blueprints and permits filed with the Franklin Township building department.

A chancery spokesman says that the addition will not adversely effect the archdiocesan budget because the building “will remain an asset of the archdiocese.” Yes, the archdiocese will hold the title. But Archbishop Myers will enjoy the comforts of the palatial building, where he is expected to live full-time when he retires. Set on a plot of more than 8 acres, the home will allow him to live in isolation. But if he doesn’t understand how badly this story will reflect on him and on the Church, he’s already isolated enough.

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  • Posted by: Defender - Feb. 19, 2014 7:31 PM ET USA

    How about spending over $100m for a Protestant cathedral (the cost and improvements) or appointing a person to a bishop's council whose other job is working for a pro-abortion, pro-SSM politician. And we won't even go into the multi-million dollar diocesan real estate holdings... yes, live is rough I guess.

  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Feb. 19, 2014 12:44 PM ET USA

    Don't just blame bishops. Blame everyone. How often do lay Catholics complain that their priests and bishops never talk about sin anymore, especially the sin of pride?

  • Posted by: feedback - Feb. 17, 2014 10:55 PM ET USA

    Bishops especially need our prayers. They are too often surrounded by flattery 24/7, staying above and beyond "fraternal correction" of any sort. Only well maintained life of personal prayer and their constant pursuit of personal holiness can keep them on track.

  • Posted by: shrink - Feb. 17, 2014 4:15 PM ET USA

    Departing from the simpler ways of his Capuchin predecessor who sold the spacious digs of his predecessor ( Bsp. Casey), Sam Aquila, bishop of Denver, has undertaken a major expansion of his bishop's residence on the Seminary grounds. Bishops can never have too much living space.

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