Friday, February 21, 2014

End-of-Week News Roundup: Archbishop John Myers Back in News, Now for Bling-Bling Retirement House

Archbishop John Myers

As this work week ends, an offering of observations from news of the week that will, I hope, inspire you to read the whole article from which the amuse-gueule is taken: these are all about the absolutely stunning decision of Newark, New Jersey, Archbishop John Myers to expand his 4,500-square-foot retirement house by adding to it a 3,000-square-foot addition (with the $500,000 renovation bill being footed by the archdiocese's lay Catholics):

Mark Mueller, New Jersey Star-Ledger:

The 4,500-square-foot home sits on 8.2 wooded acres in the hills of Hunterdon County. With five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a three-car garage and a big outdoor pool, it’s valued at nearly $800,000, records show. 
But it’s not quite roomy enough for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.

According to the Census Bureau, the average size of a new single-family home in the Northeast in 2012 was 2,582 square feet, and that is a big leap from the average size of 1,595 square feet in 1973. Any way you look at it, Myers' house will be huge.

Myers may present an excessive case of the priesthood of unaccountable privilege, but the case is not, though extreme, irrelevant. It is valuable in shedding light on the kind of accepted corruption that has infected the church for decades, manifest in the seemingly endless abuse and financial scandals, and that has drained the church of so much of its moral authority and credibility.

 Michael Powell, New York Times:

So many leaders of the church have served it so badly for so many decades that it’s hard to keep track of their maledictions. Archbishop Myers provides one-stop shopping.

Tom Kludt, Talking Points Memo:

[Archdiocesan spokesman Jim] Goodness refused to say [in response to the public furor about Myers's plans] if the retirement home is consistent with the pope's recent directives [i.e., for clerics to live modestly].

As I've noted previously (and here), Myers, who is an Opus Dei bishop, is among those U.S. bishops who have sought to ban Catholics supporting marriage equality from communion. When it came out last year that Myers had contravened an agreement with the court to keep known sexual offender Father Michael Fugee from any contact with children, instead of responding to this revelation with any perceptive pastoral intent, Myers hired a high-profile criminal defense lawyer to represent the archdiocese in litigation about the Fugee case and his own failure to abide by a court agreement. Soon after this, Fugee was arrested (and here) on criminal charges

Myers's response to the negative publicity was to claim that he was the victim of a witch-hunt by the anti-Catholic media. As Michael Powell points out in the Times article linked above, when Myers has been in the media limelight (typically for negative reasons), he has persistently sought to scapegoat gay folks, using coded language suggesting that priests abusing children are gay priests who deserve media attention--not himself:

As to his critics, the archbishop accused the media of refusing to explore the "lifestyles" of the former or marginalized priests who criticize the church. "Lifestyle" is an intriguing kidney punch of a euphemism; presumably the archbishop meant "gay."

And this, of course, is part of what Powell means when he observes, "So many leaders of the church have served it so badly for so many decades that it’s hard to keep track of their maledictions. Archbishop Myers provides one-stop shopping."

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