Monday, March 3, 2014

Parishioners Rebel Against Newark, NJ Archbishop for Building Fabulous Retirement Mansion

Once again, here I go with my personal profile-

I am a lifelong devout Catholic who has engaged in substantial research of the the Bible, the early Church and it's history.This includes countless hours on research of the Church Fathers and the earliest understandings of Christian doctrine.

In short, I am as committed as they come in regards to the teachings of the Church. I am, however, not bound to support Church leaders and other employees who are guilty of wrongful acts or omissions. For example, I have written numerous posts on the horrific non- and mal-feasance of Church leaders in regards to the protecting of pedophile priests. I have also attacked Church leaders and Jesuits for hijacking terms such as Democracy to make them mean that this system is supposed to be engaged in the redistribution of wealth.

Last September, I responded to the push to grant amnesty to the many millions of illegal aliens that was being touted by staff of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. In the post, which was published in its entirety in Gates of Vienna, I made it clear that US Catholics should put a temporary hold on weekly offerings until the US Bishops put a stop to using their influence to do harm to our national sovereignty: Unlike Eastern Orthodox Christians and some Protestants, Catholics have (until very recently) demonstrated a keen awareness of their loyalties to their nations and secular leaders while remaining practicing members of the Church. (Excerpt below)

"......The last time [European] Catholics had to engage in hostilities with forces under Church command was during the reunification of Italy in the 19th century.

Prior to those days, however, it was far from unusual for a Catholic citizen of a Catholic-majority state to participate in a conflict against forces under Papal command. History is replete with instances of, for example, Italian, Norman, French, and German forces contesting military and political control of disputed regions.

Even if we do not count the Spanish Armada, which also sailed away to its ultimate demise with full Papal approval, we still have the earlier and smaller fully Papal force that landed in Ireland with the unsuccessful mission to raise the Irish up against the Protestant English monarchy.

The Hapsburg Emperor Charles V himself, who sought to bring vast regions of Catholic Europe under a unified rule, also dispatched forces (which included Lutheran troops who really had a field day) in a sack of Rome.

Recall that English Catholics as a whole joined with their Protestant fellow-citizens when the Armada, mentioned above, did threaten their country.

But that was Europe, collectively for American Catholics known as “the old country”.

Excepting the Nativist period (the worst of which was quite short), the United States has been a nation in which Catholics can exercise the beliefs and yet be model citizens in manner quite different from Catholics of Western Europe. This was noted both by Orestes Brownson and Alexis de Tocqueville. Free of the memory of traditional entanglements mixing Church and state, as well as the lack of history in the US of supporting the old feudal order, Catholics did, in Tocqueville’s words (Democracy in America (Library of America)) —

constitute the most republican and the most democratic class of citizens which exists in the Unites States:

Brownson concurred in both his Union of Church and State and Works (Orestes Brownson : Selected Political Essays (Library of Conservative Thought)):

…we lose nothing of Catholicity, nothing of its vigor and efficiency; we lose simply certain special favors of the government, and are relieved in turn from certain burdens at times almost too great for the church to bear, imposed by the government as the price of those favors. The loss is a great gain, and it is far better for the interests of the church to lose the favors and be freed from the burdens, than it is to retain the favors and bear the burdens........"


Recently, Catholics in New Jersey have taken similar measures, and in this case the issue truly hits home. Archbishop John Myers of the Newark Archdiocese has been spending enormous sums of money (admittedly, it may be from sources other than offerings from the faithful - explanation contained in the full article) on the purchase and sickeningly massive renovation of a retirement mansion - for himself.

For bishops and priests who are truly concerned that the drastic reduction in weekly and annual revenue will harm those who are truly in need, I have one simple solution:

Sell this selfish jerk's mansion and give the proceeds of the sale to the poor. If they have that much money to spend on a retirement mansion for an archbishop, then maybe they don't need as much in offerings from the flock.

"Every year, without fail, Joe Ferri writes a $100 check to the Archdiocese of Newark for the Archbishop’s Annual Appeal, a fundraising drive that benefits a variety of religious causes.

This year, Ferri left the empty envelope on his pew at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Bloomfield. He’s done writing checks.

"If this is the only way I can be heard, so be it," said Ferri, 70. "I’m disgusted. The archdiocese is not going to get another penny out of me."

Two weeks after The Star-Ledger disclosed that Archbishop John J. Myers is building a 3,000-square-foot addition on the expansive home where he will spend his retirement, it appears the work will cost the archdiocese far more than the $500,000 allotted for construction.

Parishioners, infuriated by what they call a tone-deaf show of excess at a time when Catholic schools are closing and when the pope has called on bishops to shed the trappings of luxury, say they’re cutting off contributions entirely or sharply curtailing them.

Others said they will continue supporting their local parishes but will ignore the annual appeal, which has been heavily promoted in churches over the past month across the archdiocese, home to 1.3 million Catholics in Essex, Hudson, Union and Bergen counties

At stake are millions of dollars that support schools, youth ministries, retired priests and Catholic Charities, the nonprofit agency that runs homeless shelters and provides a wide array of services for the poorest residents. In recent years, the appeal has brought in between $10 million and $11 million annually, said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for Myers.

While acknowledging the good work the church does, the parishioners said they believe their complaints will be ignored if they don’t make the point more indelibly with their pocketbooks.

"The only language the church understands is money," said Maria Bozza, 69, who has urged fellow parishioners at Holy Family Church in Nutley to withhold contributions to the archdiocese. "We need to start an ‘empty envelope month’ to replace the archbishop’s annual appeal. If parishioners in every church in the Newark Archdiocese sent in an empty envelope, then they will get the message."

Bozza is among hundreds of people who contacted The Star-Ledger about the addition to the Hunterdon County home, which Myers will make his primary residence when he is replaced by his co-archbishop, Bernard Hebda, upon his retirement in 2016. Myers now chiefly uses the house as a weekend retreat, Goodness has said.

Most of the parishioners who reached out to the newspaper live in the Archdiocese of Newark. But dozens of people from the Paterson, Metuchen and Trenton dioceses said they, too, are withholding weekly contributions in protest.

"Unfortunately, this is going to hurt giving everywhere," said the Rev. John Bambrick, pastor of a parish in Jackson Township, part of the Diocese of Trenton, and an occasional critic of Myers’ leadership. "Beyond the archdiocese, Catholics begin to question, ‘Does my bishop do this? Does my bishop live like this?’ It’s very similar to the abuse crisis in that the acts of one person affect all of us."

Bambrick said he understands parishioners’ frustration. Many priests share it, he said, but are unwilling to speak out publicly.

"The average priest lives in two rooms with a bathroom, and the pope lives in a hotel room," Bambrick said, a reference Pope Francis’ decision to live in a guest house instead of the papal palace. "I don’t understand why a 75-year-old man needs a 7,500-square-foot mansion with two swimming pools."

The archdiocese paid $700,000 for the existing 4,500-square-foot home in 2002, using funds from the sale of a Shore house once used by retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then the archbishop of Newark, Goodness has said.

The Hunterdon County home — situated on 8.2 wooded acres in Franklin Township, part of the Diocese of Metuchen — has five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a three-car garage and a basement office, according to documents on file in the municipal building.

An elevator was installed in 2011 at a cost of about $35,000, the records show. A large, kidney-shaped swimming pool sits behind the structure. The house was assessed last year at $776,000, with taxes of nearly $19,000.

The archdiocese, a tax-exempt organization, has paid the property tax each year because the house is not primarily used for religious functions, Goodness said.

The three-story addition, now under construction, will add 3,000 square feet and will include a bedroom with a sitting area, a large study with an attached library, a full-floor "gallery" on the third level, two bathrooms, three fireplaces and its own elevator.

A "wellness room" will contain a 14-foot by 7-foot exercise pool and an adjoining whirlpool tub, identified on blueprints as a hot tub.................

...........Tom Reeder grew up in a conservative Catholic home. Priests were regulars at dinner. Financial support to the church has been a way of life. He typically drops $40 in the collection plate at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Pittstown, in the Diocese of Metuchen.

Last Sunday, he contributed $5. Today, he might not contribute at all.

"I know I’m not in the Archdiocese of Newark, but this affects us all," said Reeder, who lives in Union Township, Hunterdon County, just a few miles from Myers’ retreat. "There are a lot of hard-working people out there who give, and here you have this display of arrogance. It’s appalling."........

"This shows the need for reform," Reeder said. "And the only way they will listen to us is if we hit them in the wallet. Hard."

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