Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
APNewsBreak: Archbishop to sell Atlanta mansion
First Published Apr 05 2014 03:59 pm • Last Updated Apr 05 2014 03:59 pm

Smyrna, Ga. • Trying to appease angry parishioners, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Atlanta said Saturday that he will sell a $2.2 million mansion just three months after he moved in.

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.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"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.

A group of Catholics in Gregory’s archdiocese had asked since January that he sell the nearly 6,400-square-foot mansion in keeping with the tone of austerity set by Pope Francis. Elected last year, Francis said he wants a church for the poor, drives in an economy car and lives in a guest house instead of a Vatican palace. He has denounced the "idolatry of money" and warned against "insidious worldliness" within the church.

Laura Mullins, one of several Catholics who asked Gregory to sell, praised the archbishop for making a quick decision and ending the controversy. The mansion was made possible by a multimillion dollar gift to the archdiocese.

"He is the person we follow locally," she said. "He sets the mood. He sets the example for all of us to follow. If he is choosing to use a gift so personally, what does that tell the people sitting in the pews?"

Gregory thanked parishioners for raising the issue, and he acknowledged earlier this week the importance of Francis’ example.

"He’s called us to live more simply," Gregory said in an interview Wednesday, prior to announcing the decision to sell the residence. "He also has encouraged bishops to grow closer to their people, to listen to their people. And that, I take as a pretty serious admonition. I’m disappointed in myself ... because in my nine years, I do believe that I’ve grown very close to the people of the archdiocese. And I think this decision is an aberration rather than a pattern."

Even before the new pope’s election, top-ranking Catholics were selling off luxurious homes, most built decades or a century ago by their predecessors seeking to demonstrate the growing clout of the Catholic church. The downsizing by archbishops in Boston and Philadelphia was also symbolically important during a period when church officials were closing parishes, schools and paying big settlements over clergy sex abuse.


story continues below
story continues below

A generous gift from a wealthy donor in Atlanta made the luxurious residence possible.

Joseph Mitchell, the nephew of the author of "Gone With The Wind," left an estate worth more than $15 million to the archdiocese when he died in 2011. Mitchell asked in his will that the proceeds be used for "general religious and charitable purposes." He also requested that his parish, Christ The King Cathedral, get primary consideration.

The archdiocese gave $7.5 million to the cathedral, and cathedral officials bought Gregory’s old home. By moving its priests into Gregory’s former residence, the cathedral can free up space on its crowded campus.

Gregory used the proceeds from that sale and additional funds to demolish Mitchell’s old home and build the mansion. The archbishop said that he set out to replicate his old residence, where he hosted local Catholics and others.

The mansion has an upper-level safe room, an eight-burner kitchen stove, an elevator, public and private offices and two dining rooms. Architects initially planned space for a wine room and wanted an antique chandelier in the foyer, though those plans were later dropped.

———

Follow Ray Henry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rhenryAP.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.