The archbishop of Newark, New Jersey is under scrutiny for plans to expand his 4,500-square foot home, with amenities to include an indoor pool and an elevator. The church claims the home is not a “personal asset" and won't rely on parishioner donations— but Catholic church members are reluctant to believe it.
Archbishop John J. Myers’ Hunterdon County five-bedroom home with a pool is located on 8.2 acres of land and is valued at around $800,000. Owned by the archdiocese, Myers has been weekending there since 2012. Now he wants to make things a little more comfortable, the Star-Ledger reports.
The planned 3-story, 3,000-square foot addition will include an indoor exercise pool, hot tub, library, and elevator. The price of the expansion will start at half a million—but that doesn’t include the costs of architecture, furniture, or landscaping.
Charles Zech, a professor at Villanova University’s business school and faculty director of the Center for Church Managemnet and Business Ethics, said Myers is “obviously is not paying any attention to the pope.”
"The pope is calling on clergy to live a simpler lifestyle and to be in touch with their people," Zech said. "This is extreme, way beyond what you’d expect to happen. I can’t believe the parishioners of Newark are going to allow this to happen."
The paper spoke to one parishioner, Joan Rubino, who has been a frequent contributor to the archbishops’ basket for decades. Perhaps because the news comes as the same time as the "archbishop’s annual appeal," Rubino was not happy to hear it.
"To ask people to make sacrifices and then to live in a sumptuous residence, it makes me very annoyed," said Rubino, 77. "Isn’t there a better use for this money? In plain English, I feel like people are getting screwed."
But a spokesman for Meyers, Jim Goodness, said that the cost of the residence will be covered by other church-owned properties, as well as targeted donations.
"There are not expected to be any expenses that can not be met by other real estate transactions, and it will remain an asset of the archdiocese," Goodness said. "It is not a personal asset."
And, he said, Meyers will need to extra office space when he retires.