The group Faithful America intends to deliver a petition on Sunday to Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, calling on him to nix his plans to move into a retirement home that's undergoing a $500,000, 3,000 square-foot addition. The expansion will include an indoor exercise pool (the home already boasts an outdoor pool), hot tub and three fireplaces.
"Archbishop Myers, you don't need a 7,500-square-foot house for your retirement. Please start heeding Pope Francis's admonitions, and put being a good pastor for New Jersey Catholics ahead of building an opulent lifestyle for yourself," reads the petition, which has been signed by close to 20,000 people nationwide.
Michael Sherrard, executive director for Faithful America, told TPM in an email that local volunteers will deliver the petition to the Newark cathedral after its Palm Sunday mass, but he's unsure if Myers will be on hand.
He said the home, where Myers plans to reside when he retires in two years, contradicts the message being pushed by Pope Francis.
"Pope Francis has inspired Catholics all over the world with his challenge to to become a 'poor church for the poor,' but Archbishop Myers seems to have missed the memo," Sherrard said in the email. "When the pope said bishops should be 'close to the people ... animated by inner poverty,' I don't think living in a mansion with five bedrooms and two pools is what he meant."
Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese, told TPM in February that he understood the criticism, but wouldn't say if the home is at odds with the Vatican's poverty-centered focus.
"I'm not going to answer that question," Goodness said at the time. "I'm not taking any side on that at all."
Myers and the archdiocese have faced an enormous public backlash for the home.
Several parishioners told the Star-Ledger last month that they closed their wallets during the archdiocese's annual fundraising appeal.