Of the Fishwrap and the Palaces of Bishops

Over at the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) they are thrashing in the chum-strewn waters of the residences of American bishops.

Those rich bishops! Stealing money from the mouths of the poor! They aren’t humble like …. like… like Pope Francis! He’s The First Pope Ever To Smile Or Kiss A Baby™ or Live In Abject Poverty In Casa Santa Marta™.

I am with Fr. Longenecker, who recently defended a good, and elegant residence for diocesan bishops.

You don’t have to live in a cardboard box under a bridge to have concern for the poor.

Nevertheless, the frenzy is fully underway now. American dioceses far and wide are rushing to defend the residences of their bishops. For example, at CWN we read: Denver archdiocese defends new $6.5 million meeting center, residence for archbishop.  Yawn.

Since Fishwrap‘s Michael Sean Winters is obsessed with Most Rev. Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison (aka His Mightiness aka The Extraordinary Ordinary), whom he continually bashes (HERE and HERE and HERE – just within the last few months) as being out of touch, condescending, a real meanie, I now share a view of His Excellency’s palatial episcopal mansion’s opulent facade and elegant, graceful entrance.  Such lines!

I know.

You are now weighing whether a bishop should live in an extravagant building that has more than one story.

Anyway, I’m just trying to help Fishwrap in their research for their upcoming exposé on the luxury mansions of the rich and famous (conservative) bishops.

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  1. McCall1981 says:

    I think Father accidentally posted a pic of Versailles, I’ve never seen such opulence ;)

    [Non! Je le jure. Ce n’est pas une photo de Versailles! I double-checked. But I could see how you made that error.]

  2. acardnal says:

    Ahh, yes. The “extraordinary ordinary’s” very ordinary digs.

  3. Sonshine135 says:

    And what of the homes of the schismatics? Are they practicing what they preach? I would be willing to bet that Mr. Winters lives in a very nice home.

  4. terryprest says:

    On the top left, is that a “loggia” or just the fire escape or where they hang out washing ?

  5. terryprest says:

    On the top left, is that a “loggia” or just the fire escape or where they hang out washing ?

    [That’s right. That’s the episcopal loggia.]

  6. OrthodoxChick says:


    I was just thinking the same thing. When Mr. Winters posts a photo of his own house, will we see a yurt, or perhaps a glass house?

  7. ASPM Sem says:

    Good thing the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis sold the largest house in Minnesota, formerly the chancery, to the Minnesota Historical Society for $1 20 years ago. They can’t call the unsightly concrete structure that is the chancery now opulent!

    [The Archbishop’s present house looks something like a bunker that looms over Omaha Beach.]

  8. Geoffrey says:

    This is getting old. Very old. Just a few days ago, Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote a wonderful piece on this topic titled “Archbishops Should Live in Palaces”.


    [Ummmm…. did you read the top entry?]

  9. wmeyer says:

    The current article on (my own) Abp. Gregory is a story which has garnered too much coverage. And missing from the stories, among other things, is any mention of whether the residence would serve only the Abp, or his vicars, as well. Also barely mentioned is that the money was gifted by the Mitchell estate, apparently for the express purpose to which it was assigned. As usual, righteous men get trampled, while the minor prince of lies in the White House gets a pass on all his whoppers.

  10. benedetta says:

    I call on all fishwrappers to forgo their salaries starting…now…?

    [Yes, they could all give up their salaries and pay the ObamaCare premiums for the poor.]

  11. mburn16 says:

    I, too, have found my patience worn thin by the (imo, hypocritical) cries of “grandeur! shame! stone him!” levied at those men of the cloth who enjoy some element of domestic luxury. For one, behaving like a servant need not mean living like a slave. For another, if you want these men to dress in rags and eat crumbs, you first. Outside of those, like the Holy Father, who have taken vows of poverty…I see no conflict in being a man of God in comfort.

    “But! Christ was poor!” Perhaps, maybe, Christ was personally poor. Yet he kept company, and benefited materially from association, with those who were clearly NOT poor. How many stories are there of Jesus dining with tax collectors, merchants, and even pharisees who would have been men of means? The place where the last supper was eaten belonged to someone wealthy enough not only to host and provide for a large gathering, but also to have servants and a second level to their house.

    In any case….I see few more worthy of comfort than those who preach the word of God.

  12. I am reminded of the scene in the original Star Trek where Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock attack one another. When they are finished, Mr. Spock notes that “striking a fellow officer is a court-martial offense.” Captain Kirk replies, “Well, if we’re both in the brig, who will build the subsonic transmitter?”

    Any time I start to feel guilty for having money and a warm bed where I can sleep at night, I remind myself, “If everyone were poor, who would help the poor?” I am able to walk down a street in Manhattan giving money to beggars because I have money to give them. If everyone renounced all money and earthly goods, we would all be lined up on the streets with tin cups– and no one would have any money to fill them or food to give us.

  13. MarthainCanada says:

    Well if you read Fr. Longnecker’s post, it’s interesting, and not what I expected him to say. He says, basically, that bishops should live in genteel poverty and share their palaces with other religious and the poor.

    I did find a picture online of a Toronto Bishop’s palace, listed as a historical site, but I”m not clear on whether anyone lives there. Sorry, I couldn’t find a link for this.

    (Toronto has so many amazing looking, huge houses. Maybe three people live in them?)

  14. Polycarpio says:

    op·tics [op-tiks]

    2. (used with a plural verb) the way a situation, action, event, etc., is perceived by the public or by a particular group of people.


    There is absolutely nothing wrong with bishops living in palaces. There also would be nothing wrong with CEOs wearing black pin-striped suits, monocles, and pocket gold watches. But why would they. We have to start being smart.

  15. Animadversor says:

    Perhaps, as with Byzantine ecclesiastical architecture, an exoteric spareness cloaks an interior and sumptuous opulence. Might we have a picture of His Excellency’s throne room?

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  17. KateD says:

    Buildings cost money. Bigger buildings cost more money. A diocesan building serves a large number of people and their many needs. The value of the buildings is pretty normal given where they are. This is all so much silliness.

  18. Sofia Guerra says:

    First, His Excellency, Robert C. Morlino is MY BISHOP and Mr Winters needs to be prepared now to hear about his “misrepresentations” from those of us here in Madison who love the fact that we have a Bishop who is a real man.
    Real man, you say?
    Yes, a Bishop who drives himself to the doctor (we meet there occasionally in the parking lot), who goes to the Farmers Market to buy vegetables to cook for others at this “PALATIAL” establishment and who (now get this) walks all by himself after processions to meet with us faithful with no overseer rushing him away from his flock!
    Yeah that’s Bishop Morlino…sounds kinda like the overly praised Francis who does the same. I have had more street meetings with Bishop Morlino than all the other bishops combined from all the other dioceses I have lived in. I have run into him on the street more in one month than all the other Bishops where I have been a member of his flock.
    I know “Mr” Winter can’t stand the fact that a Jesuit could love the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, who says (and he said it to me personally) that all Madison Diocese seminarians will know how to offer the EF before they are ordained, who follows Church Teaching with joy and who GOD FORBID loves beauty in a Sacred Space.
    I understand that it is “in” to be a miserable Progressive metrosexual who doesn’t care a fig about a priest who embraces his vocation and if he wasn’t a priest he would make an amazing father and husband BECAUSE HE IS A REAL MAN.
    Winters needs to make sure that his equally charitable boss, Thomas Reese SJ continues the mama’s boys whining fest over at the Wrap.
    Winters better be prepared to hear from us, those who are PRIVILEGED to be a member of the Diocese of Madison the greatest Diocese in one of the most Godless cities in America.
    Morlino is a warrior for Christ and His Church. He takes a boatload of crap constantly from these humorless maniacs who are running to the car crash and want to take society and in particular the Catholic Church with them.
    So, go on with yourself Winters, but be prepared to get a boatload back.
    I may live in Wisconsin but I’m from Jersey. Bring it on!

    BTW, I live in a building in Madison that looks like a palatial place a Bishop should live, will I be stoned also? Its about time lay people who love to live large better drop the big fat stones they want to throw at Bishop’s residences, cars et al. Its just crap now. A BIG FAT CRAP SANDWICH.

  19. incorpore says:

    I recall the article that Bishop Morlino’s local paper did on his anniversary a year or so ago. They address the indoor appointments of this opulent residence:

    “He lives alone at the rectory at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, three blocks off the Capitol Square, where he moved in 2005 from the outlying [Bishop’s Mansion at the] Bishop O’Connor Center because he said he wanted to be ’embedded’ in campus and political culture.

    “Though he is sometimes criticized for allegedly having expensive tastes, his living room is furnished with a hodgepodge of modest, somewhat dated, furniture. A big-screen TV — 60 inches? — is the only nod to modernity.

    “A picture of Morlino with his paternal grandmother, Mary Morlino, holds a place of honor next to his favorite rocker. She died in 1995 at age 96 and was his only remaining immediate family member.”

    There’s also this picture of some of the luxurious furnishings: http://tinyurl.com/jw7tx4y
    I’m pretty sure that’s REAL wicker, people…scandal!!!

    So, he left the bishop’s mansion to be in a rectory more in the midst of his people??? That does remind me of someone else we’ve heard about…

    [The aforementioned photo. Also, I have been in His Excellency’s residence quite a few times. It is not in any way lavish. It is the homey apartment of a Catholic gentleman with family and churchy images and tchotchkes.]

  20. AngelGuarded says:

    I want my priests (and monsignors and bishops) to live in a nice rectory and to be comfortable, warm (or cool), and safe. I would buy them homes and pay all expenses for them if I could. What is wrong with people who want priests to live in a cardboard box under a bridge? I have met “preachers” who live in cardboard boxes under a bridge and they are not usually warm and engaging like my priests.

  21. jeffcassman says:

    I don’t know the particulars of the Bishops mentioned in the article, although some readers seem to have insight. I know the Bishop of Nashville lives in a home owned by his family and drives himself everywhere, despite very poor and declining health. There is much that happens in his diocese that is inexcusable, but his personal conduct seems above reproach.

    However, an observation about a common reaction I see to criticism in the media; there is a knee-jerk reaction among many devout Catholics to attack the messenger and claim, or simply imply, anti-Catholicism. No pun intended to Father for his reference above, but it smacks of ‘bunker’ mentality. Perhaps there are some lavish, opulent and inappropriate Bishop’s palaces. They should NOT be defended. We should thank the media for helping us to recognize these faults-just as we should thank our enemy who points out our flaw.

    The Bishops’ homes should befit their station, certainly, but we live in a world in which perception is as important as ever, and our Church has more than enough earned negative press that our Bishops, of all people, should exercise prudence in the extreme, so much so that what might be perfectly reasonable but what might appear unreasonable should be given some deference. Whether it’s a car or home or time on the golf course or eating at a nice restaurant, rightly or wrongly there is a perception in the west of a rich, corrupt, out of touch ecclesiastical bureaucracy that cares little for the needs of the faithful or the victims of the Church. I think a little more caution should be exercised by the Bishops, and discretion by their apologists about how vigorously they protest, lest we play into the shrewd hands of the modernists running the press.

  22. jarthurcrank says:

    The criticism of Archbishop Gregory in this regard is a sick joke. I grew up as an Episcopalian in a small, but arguably prominent, southern town. The (liberal) rector of my parish, which had approximately 1200-1300 members, maybe more, bought a prominent and historic house on the most prominent street in town. That house is now valued at approximately 2 million or so. (The rector no longer lives in it as he later became a prominent Episcopal bishop and then retired.) Nobody, nobody, nobody, considered it inappropriate or overly lavish for this man to live in such a great house (with his family, of course). The only criticism I can remember was over the paint job on the house that his wife ordered when they moved in; a paint job which was, well, different.

    There is nothing wrong with a bishop living in a nice house. A Catholic bishop is a prominent man in the community whose station in life befits a nice house – – at least a nice as any high-priced Atlanta lawyer who is only a few years out of law school. It would also be interesting to know what kind of houses (and what neighborhoods) the editors of the Atlanta Journal Constitution live in (and some of the other critics). I wonder how many of Archbishop Gregory’s critics live in Cobb County or have houses on Lake Lanier, where they and their children won’t have to rub shoulders with, how should I put it delicately, the wrong sort of people?

  23. KG says:

    My impression of Bishop Morlino is that he is a wonderful and humble man who shares some of the Holy Father’s best traits. He spoke at a conference I attended some months ago. During the meet-and-greet times, rather than rubbing shoulders with the many well known Catholic intellectuals present, he focused on meeting with graduate students and undergrads, and seemed to be genuinely interested in our lives and in encouraging us in our vocations. He asked us to pray for him.

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