Research reveals U.S. archbishops' live on lavish properties

(Photo: REUTERS / Eduardo Munoz)Cardinal Timothy Dolan (L) participates in the 19th annual "Way of the Cross Over the Brooklyn Bridge Ceremony" in New York City April 18, 2014. The ceremony, hosted yearly on the Christian holy day of Good Friday, includes walking from St. James Cathedral, over the Brooklyn Bridge to St. Peter's Church in Manhattan. The event attracts approximately 2,000 people each year.

U.S. Archbishops seem to live the "lifestyles of the rich and religious," and some people say it is not justified, while bishops say the buildings are historical and can't easily be sold.

This is what CNN's Daniel Burke found out after he and research librarian Lindsey Knight searched public records to find information about the houses of Roman Catholic archbishops in the United States.

According to church and government records, 10 of the 34 active archbishops in the U.S. are living in buildings worth more than $1 million.

New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan was recorded as owning the most expensive property with a 15,000-square-foot (1,394 square meters) mansion on Madison Avenue.

Vanderbilt Appraisal Company estimated the mansion's value at $30 million.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago owns a mansion located on 1.7 acres of prime real estate in Chicago. The three nuns who work for the cardinal live in a 5,800-sqaure-foor coach house near the mansion.

Representatives of Dolan and George said the mansions were built more than 100 years ago and are used for ministry. They also said that the mansions are historical landmarks and can't be sold or converted easily.

Rev. Steven Avella, a Catholic priest, thinks otherwise. "There's no reason a bishop has to live like a prince or medieval monarch, even if he inherited the place from his predecessor."

Regarding the lifestyle of the Catholic leaders, Pope Francis has expressed his desire for a "Church which is poor and for the poor."

He showed the way as head of the Catholic Church by moving from the Grand Apostolic Palace into a two-room suite. He carries his own bag and is driven around in an old car.

Even Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in a mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral early this year, praised the Pope for setting a tone with his simple lifestyle.

"This is a little icon, and a symbol of the Church with a small 'c' that we're trying to restore and rebuild," he said referring to St. Patrick's renovation, "but Francis wants to do the Church with a capital 'C' and I think he's doing it."

Last year, the Vatican fired German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, also called the ""Bishop of Bling," for spending $43 million to remodel his home and offices.

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News