The Catholic archbishop of Atlanta will sell a $US2.2 million ($A2.39 million) mansion just three months after he moved, in a bid to appease angry parishioners who insist that he follows the example set by Pope Francis.
Archbishop Wilton Gregory announced the decision following a closed-door meeting with members of several church councils at his headquarters. He publicly apologised on Monday for building the Tudor-style residence and will move out next month.
“I have decided to sell the Habersham property and invest the proceeds from that sale into the needs of the Catholic community,” Gregory told The Associated Press after the meeting.
A group of Catholics in Gregory’s diocese had asked since January that he sell-off the more than 560-square-metre home in keeping with the tone of austerity set by Pope Francis.
The Pope says he wants a church for the poor, drives in an economy car and lives in a guestroom instead of a Vatican palace. He has denounced the “idolatry of money” and warned against “insidious worldliness” within the church.
Gregory sold his previous home to Christ The King Cathedral, which plans to expand it and house its priests there. The archbishop has said he would seek to live in a setting more modest than his current or previous home.
Laura Mullins, one of several Catholics who asked Gregory to sell the mansion, praised the archbishop for ending the controversy.
The mansion was made possible by a generous multimillion-dollar gift to the archdiocese.
“He is the person we follow locally,” she said. “He sets the mood. He sets the example for all of us to follow. If he is choosing to use a gift so personally, what does that tell the people sitting in the pews?”