If Pope Francis has any influence on some of the bishops who do his bidding, then there’s hope for a major Christian denomination’s future.
A recent story involving the archbishop of Atlanta comes to mind. Archbishop Wilton Gregory is moving out of his $2.2 million mansion, which was built on land donated by descendants of Margaret Mitchell, author of “Gone With the Wind.”
Parishioners took exception to the archbishop living in such sumptuous quarters while the Holy Father himself lives in a small guest apartment in Vatican City. What’s more, parishioners give their money to the church while sacrificing many material things of their own.
The firestorm was fierce.
Archbishop Gregory isn’t the only Catholic cleric to feel the heat. Others around the country are hearing from members of their own flocks for adopting lifestyles that belie (a) church teachings about taking vows of poverty and (b) Pope Francis’s humble lifestyle.
I am not a practicing Catholic. I am a Presbyterian, which had its beginnings about the time of the Protestant Reformation. I was baptized, though, in the Greek Orthodox Church, which has its own long history of animus toward the “Western church.” Thus, I am not qualified to comment theologically on how the Atlanta archbishop messed up.
I am qualified to say, though, that it just plain looks bad when your church’s earthly leader preaches daily about caring for the poor and lives in such Spartan quarters while those under him erect quarters that would make many billionaires blush.