Backlash Against Jersey’s “Bishop of Bling”

Collection plates dry up as Archbishop John Myers comes under fire.

TPM: “Churchgoing Catholics in New Jersey are closing their wallets to the church following reports that the Archbishop of Newark is having a large addition built on the already-large home where he will spend his retirement, The Newark Star Ledger reported on Sunday.”

The Newark Archdiocese’s plan to build a $500,000 addition to the retirement home for Archbishop John Myers received press attention last month, prompting a public backlash. One Star-Ledger reader wrote a letter to the editor dubbing Myers the “Bishop of Bling.”

In its story on Sunday, the Star-Ledger spoke with parishioners, some of whom said they were cutting off contributions to the church entirely, and others who said they would still support local parishes but won’t give to the archdiocese’s annual fundraising appeal. A spokesperson for the archbishop told the newspaper that the annual appeal has in recent years brought in between $10 million and $11 million.

But priests worry that withheld donations may hurt the poor served by the archdiocese. “As priests, that’s the hardest thing for us,” said the Rev. John Bambrick. “It doesn’t hurt the archbishop. There’s no way to hold him accountable. But the poor are held accountable for his bad decisions.”