Controversy over Newark Archbishop's pricey home expansion

Jim Dolan reports on backlash facing the church as schools close in New Jersey
February 21, 2014 3:55:59 AM PST
There's controversy brewing in New Jersey over an expensive and unlikely home makeover.

The Archibishop of Newark is under fire for the $500,000 addition being added to his weekend house in the woods of Pittstown.

The construction is underway as the church is closing schools due to the lack of money.

At the end of a private road in rural Hunterdon County is the future retirement home of Newark Archbishop John Myers.

It is a 4,000 square foot home on a lush eight-and-a-half-acre estate paid for by the archdiocese, which is also paying for the new 3,000-square-foot half-million-dollar addition.

The new wing will have three fireplaces, a whirlpool and an elevator.

But some think there may be better ways for the church to spend that money.

"With all the problems that are arising, even with Catholic education and them closing so many schools, I think that probably, yes, some of that money should be used towards the kids' education," one resident said.

The Mater Dei School in Kearney is just one of several Newark Archdiocesan schools closed in the last few years because the archdiocese didn't have enough money to keep them open.

"My God, they could put the school back into business again," an area resident said. "What do they need such a big house for the archbishop?"

"They should give it to charity before they build a beautiful house," one woman said.

A post on the Newark Archdiocesan website reads, "The planned construction is being paid for by donations from individuals specifically given for this purpose and through the sale of residential properties that the diocese owns but does not need."

But could they spend the money in a better way?

"Oh, of course they can," one resident said. "We could keep the school open instead of closing it down."

"He should look more at the way the pope is living," another resident said. "If the pope could, he'd live in a tent."

Archbishop Myers faces mandatory retirement in two years. He will then retire to the home in Pittstown. There are no plans to reopen the many closed schools in the Newark Archdiocese.