Atlanta Archbishop backs off $2.2 million home

ATLANTA, Ga. -- The Archbishop of the Atlanta Diocese says he will move from a new home on Habersham Road if that's the will of his people.

A spokeswoman for the Diocese told 11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross that Archbishop Wilton Gregory is open to any living arrangement after drawing heavy criticism for his new $2.2 million home.

"He has said, 'I will live wherever my people want me to live,' and that's what Archbishop Gregory has said," said spokeswoman Patricia Chivers,

Chivers is surprised by the controversy surrounding the Archbishop's new home. She said plans for the house on Habersham Road have been in the works for four years.

In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constution, the Archbishop said the home will be used for entertaining and it will help him to smell like the flock.

"Archbishop Gregory said he would like to entertain at the house, including BBQ's, and including pizza parties, and sometimes it's just gatherings for tea,' she said.

"I have been a parishioner of Christ the King for 36 years, and I have never been invited to anything at the Archbishop's home,' countered Laura Mullins.

Mullins is one of 10 parishioners who met with the archbishop in person after he moved in to the home and asked him to reconsider.

Christ the King moved six priests in to his old house and moved him in to the home on Habersham in January. She says the large home in an exclusive area of town is not keeping with the teachings of Pope Francis.

"We have to be very careful how we use our money to make sure that it's used in the most purposeful way for the least among us," she said.

The money for the home came from a large bequest from a parishioner who donated the property and $15 million: 25 percent of it went to charity, another 25 percent to the archdiocese.

Some parishioners think more should have gone to the needy.

"I think that it's offensive. I think that when you're in religion and politics, you're held to a different level of accountability, you're representing all people, and it's offensive," said Marci Nunnery.

But the financial council of the archdiocese says the plan was approved at the highest level, and vetted by the council of Priests.

"The only way we're going to make the best choices that God has for us is to be open to each other and listen to what that might be," said Sam Fraundorf, a member of the church financial council.

He said the financial advice the council gave the church is sound.

Chivers says the Archbishop only lives in a small portion of the home upstairs, and the property belongs to the archdiocese.


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