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San Jose bishop now regrets letting diocese buy him a $2.3M house; plans to sell it following outcry

Bishop Patrick McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose says he will no longer be moving into the $2.3M home that the church purchased for him to live in during retirement. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

The Diocese of San Jose purchased a $2.3 million home for retiring Bishop Patrick J. McGrath last winter. Now that the real estate deal has been made public, McGrath says he won't be moving in after all.

Why did they buy him a $2.3M home?

According to a statement released by the bishop Monday, McGrath originally planned to occupy a home located on a diocesan-owned cemetery. But the cost of "retrofitting" would have been too expensive. Therefore, the Diocesan Finance Council and College of Consultors gave the nod for purchasing a home using funds "primarily" from the sale of another bishop's condo.

"I erred in judgment in the purchase of a 5-bedroom home for $2.3 million," McGrath 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."

Both the diocese and McGrath initially defended the purchase of the Silicon Valley home. Diocese communications director Liz Sullivan told the Mercury News, which first reported the home purchase, that "the Diocese of San Jose is responsible for paying for the Bishop's housing and its costs for upkeep when he retires."

Given the rising home prices in the area, McGrath told the Mercury News, "When I'm not around any more, 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."

What changed?

The Mercury News also exposed the fact that just months ago, the San Jose Diocese asked parishioners to cough up funds to fill in a $247 million "financial hole" due to underfunded priest pensions and other debts.

Martha Franks, a Mountain View Catholic, criticized the timing of the purchase.

"Jesus teaches us not to be selfish with our treasure here on earth," she said. "That's why the decision for the bishop to buy a $2.3 million home for his sole use was shocking — knowing there is a financial shortfall for his fellow priests' retirement."

Now what?

McGrath said in his statement that the diocese will be listing the house for sale as soon as possible and will donate any profit to Charities Housing, which is a division of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.

Upon retirement, the bishop now plans to live in a rectory at one of the diocese parishes.

One last thing…
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