6 p.m. UPDATE: After public outcry over the purchase, the Bishop Patrick McGrath will not move into the house and the diocese will work to sell the property.
McGrath released a statement saying he had planned to move into a house owned by the diocese on cemetery property, but it was too costly to retrofit.
He says the house that was purchased made sense through the lens of financial return on the investment and that the money spent on the house was from the sale of a previous bishop’s condominium
“However, I erred in judgment in the purchase of a 5-bedroom home for $2.3 million,” he said. “I failed to consider adequately the housing crisis in this valley and the struggles of so many families and communities in light of that crisis.”
He now plans to live in a rectory at one of the parishes.
His full statement is below:
When I began plans to retire, and considered where I would live, I had wanted to remain in the Diocese of San Jose. This has been my home for nearly 20 years. At first, I had hoped to live in a diocesan-owned house that is located on cemetery property, but necessary retrofitting proved to be too costly.
This made it necessary to look for another house. The Diocesan Finance Council and the College of Consultors approved the purchase of the home in the Willow Glen neighborhood of San Jose. I agreed with them that in economic terms the purchase of the home made sense in terms of financial return on investment. It was bought primarily with funds that had been designated for this sole purpose, funds that had accrued from the sale of Bishop DuMaine’s condominium, when he was no longer able to live in it due to failing health.
However, I erred in judgment in the purchase of a 5-bedroom home for $2.3 million. I failed to consider adequately the housing crisis in this valley and the struggles of so many families and communities in light of that crisis.
I have heard from many on this topic and I have decided that I will not move into this house. The Diocese will put it up for sale as soon as possible; if there is any profit to the Diocese from that sale, those funds will be donated to Charities Housing, a division of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.
I assume full responsibility for this decision and I believe that the sale of the house is the appropriate action. I thank those who have advised me.
When I retire, I now intend to live in a rectory at one of our parishes.
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of San Jose has purchased a five-bedroom, $2.3 million home in Silicon Valley for its retiring bishop despite the 640,000-member diocese’s mission of charity and serving the poor.
Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, 73, acknowledged in an interview with the Mercury News of San Jose that the price tag is “a lot of money,” saying “I could understand” it might not sit well with some parishioners.
The nearly 3,300-square-foot home’s listing boasts of a “grand-sized chef’s kitchen,” ”soaring ceilings” and “luxurious master ensuite” with a “spa-like marble bathroom” in a “Tuscan estate.”
It was purchased with funds set aside for paying the costs of a bishop’s housing and upkeep after retirement, said diocese communications director Liz Sullivan. She said the diocese was “following the policy set forth by the United States Council of Catholic Bishops” in purchasing the home.
McGrath said the diocese also got the proceeds from selling a condominium where his predecessor, retired Bishop Pierre DuMaine, lived before moving into assisted living.
“The fund is a fund that can be used for nothing else,” McGrath said. “When I’m not around anymore, the house can be sold. It’s a good investment in that sense. It probably makes more money this way than if it were in the bank.”
Still, the purchase appears at odds with the McGrath’s previously expressed concerns about housing inequality in Northern California.
In 2016, McGrath co-authored an article backing a $950 million bond measure for affordable housing in which he wrote “too many children and families are living in cars or tripled up with other families in small homes because they can’t afford the rent on their own.”
“There is no moral or social justification, no justification whatsoever, for the lack of housing,” he wrote.
Many retired clergy choose to live in a retirement community in Mountain View sponsored by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Others live in church rectories, the homes of parish priests. Catholic orders like the Society of Jesus provide accommodations for fellow Jesuits.
“Those are all possibilities,” McGrath said. “But I’d like to live in a house so I would have the freedom to help the diocese but not disturb the priests in the rectories.”
McGrath said he looked at various homes both within and beyond the diocese but “they all had some kind of drawback.”
“I looked at places way out in the East Bay, but I like the valley,” McGrath said. “I thought it would be nice to be here, to be of assistance (with the parish) if I can.”
McGrath said he’s not planning to have other clergy as regular housemates, though people to help him cook and clean might come and stay.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.