News & Politics

Catholic Archdiocese Criticized for Spending Millions on Lavish Mansions While Ignoring the Poor

The spending has sparked a debate over the institution’s spending priorities.

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The purchase of new property by a Catholic Archdiocese in Atlanta has sparked a debate among its parishioners over the institution’s spending priorities, and whether that money should go towards helping the poor.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Cathedral of Christ the King, a major Catholic church in Atlanta, has decided to spend $2.2 million on renovations for a new rectory for its priests. The rectory used to be the expansive residence of an archbishop, who moved to a new home--which the church built for an additional $2.2 million.

The money came from a $15 million bequest from a donor, Joseph Mitchell, who is the nephew of “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell. Some parishioners think his wealth should have been used for schools and the poor – that clergy leadership needed to follow the example of Pope Francis, who’s made international headlines recently with his admonitions to Catholics to live simpler, more frugal lives.

“This is an excessive lifestyle,” one parishioner told the newspaper.

As Talking Points Memo's Igor Bobic notes, it mirrors a similar debate on the East Coast.  "An archdiocese in New Jersey last month also drew criticism for building an expansive, palatial addition to a retirement home for its archbishop, two years after it shuttered a school due to a lack of funds," wrote Bobic.

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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