New Jersey Parishioners Will Teach Bling Bishop A Lesson By Slapping Poors

So here is a fine kettle of Ichthys -- as we mentioneda couple weeks back, John J. Myers, the Archbishop of Newark -- which is a pretty fun title to say, we'll admit -- is building himself a new wing on the Barbie's Dream Bishop Retirement Home, to the tune of half a million dollars. This is not going over especially well with parishioners, who are less than thrilled that Myers's 4500-square-foot residence is getting a brand new wing at a time when the archdiocese has had to close schools because of budget shortfalls, and for that matter, after New Pope's call for priests to drive boring cars and knock it off already with the luxurious manses. And so, when the "Archbishop’s Annual Appeal" envelopes were handed out last month, a lot of cheesed-off Catholics have been sending the Archbishop a message, loud and clear, in the form of empty contribution envelopes, to which we say, way to go, pissed-off parishioners who aren't going to give one more cent for this foolishness.

Except for the part that kind of sucks, which is that the costs of the new additions to Meyers's residence came from the sale of other property, so withholding contributions won't slow down the construction by so much as a nail. It's almost as if the archdiocese carefully planned the building project to insulate it from pissed-off parishioners, isn't it?

Dear Catholic Church: this is why so many of us don't trust you.

The Newark Star-Ledger reports that parishioners are calling for an "empty envelope month" to get the message across to the Archbishop and to church officials -- as Maria Bozza, who we think can safely be called "feisty," said,

"The only language the church understands is money ... If parishioners in every church in the Newark Archdiocese sent in an empty envelope, then they will get the message."

The downside, of course, is that withholding contributions to the Archbishop's Appeal is not going to hurt Myers, but will take funds away from programs that help people who really do need help:

At stake are millions of dollars that support schools, youth ministries, retired priests and Catholic Charities, the nonprofit agency that runs homeless shelters and provides a wide array of services for the poorest residents. In recent years, the appeal has brought in between $10 million and $11 million annually, said Jim Goodness, a spokesman for Myers.

That's some catch, isn't it? Rev. John Bambrick, a priest in Jackson Township, sums up the dilemma:

"The average priest lives in two rooms with a bathroom, and the pope lives in a hotel room," Bambrick said, a reference Pope Francis’ decision to live in a guest house instead of the papal palace. "I don’t understand why a 75-year-old man needs a 7,500-square-foot mansion with two swimming pools."

...By refusing to donate, he said, [parishioners] are most certainly sending a message. But they’re also depriving the neediest residents of care, he said.

"It does hurt the poor," Bambrick said. "As priests, that’s the hardest thing for us. It doesn’t hurt the archbishop. There’s no way to hold him accountable. But the poor are held accountable for his bad decisions."

To make matters worse, there are also the priests like Rev. Peter Palmisano in Garfield, whose February 28 bulletin identified the real enemy: not excess on Myers's part, but those demons who insist on telling people about it:

"For the love of God, the media is our devil. DO NOT LET OPINIONS stand in the way of us doing God’s work, living the Gospel and helping the archbishop do the same. PLEASE — if you have not yet made your appeal to the [annual appeal] -- make it now."

Fr. Palmisano writes a bit like a tea partier, with lots of CAPS LOCK and exclamation points! The bulletin also includes a calmer but maybe more slimy explanation by the Archbishop's official spokesman, who really is named "Jim Goodness" as if he had stepped out of a Hawthorne short story, which seeks to reassure everyone that since the new wing for Meyers's residence isn't coming from charity or school funds, it's really no big deal, and not the least bit excessive, no indeedy, and could you please continue giving as normally, please?

Yr Wonkette would just like to suggest a solution to the pissed-off parishioners of Newark: Go right ahead and withhold your contributions to the Archbishop's Appeal, because that Maria Bozza is a smart lady -- it's a language they'll understand. But while you're at it, how about writing a check to one of the several fine secular charities that serve the homeless and hungry in your area? That way you can send a message, and still get some good done. (How's that for "third way" solutions, huh?) Sure, it's a big hierarchical institution, but people outside the official church can certainly have an influence, too. Might we suggest that they adapt a call to action by Newark's own Jerry Lewis? HEY, LAITY!!!

[Star Ledger via TPM]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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