The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Atlanta issued an apology Monday for building a $2.2 million mansion for himself with a donation meant for “general religious or charitable purposes.”
Archbishop Wilton Gregory says he received critical emails, phone calls and letters after he recently moved into a nearly 6,400-square-foot mansion.
A large donation was made to the archdiocese in 2011 by the estate of Joseph Mitchell, nephew of Margaret Mitchell, author of "Gone With The Wind.” The estate, valued at $15 million, was left to the archdiocese for “general religious or charitable purposes.”
Gregory demolished a one-story home on the Mitchell property and built his Tudor mansion on top of it.
"I am disappointed that, while my advisors (sic) and I were able to justify this project fiscally, logistically and practically, I personally failed to project the cost in terms of my own integrity and pastoral credibility with the people of God of north and central Georgia," Gregory wrote in a column for the archdiocesan newspaper, The Georgia Bulletin.
He said the sprawling mansion was designed to include large gathering rooms for meetings and receptions.
"I failed to consider the impact on the families throughout the Archdiocese who, though struggling to pay their mortgages, utilities, tuition and other bills, faithfully respond year after year to my pleas to assist with funding our ministries and services," he said.
He says he will discuss the matter several diocesan councils. If they want him to sell the home, he claims he will do it.
His actions are in stark contrast to Pope Francis who lives in modest quarters at the Vatican.
"The example of the Holy Father, and the way people of every sector of our society have responded to his message of gentle joy and compassion without pretense, has set the bar for every Catholic and even for many who don't share our communion," Gregory said.