Bishop of San Jose Patrick McGrath drew praise from charity groups and parishioners Tuesday for his quick decision amid public outcry to sell a $2.3 million house bought with diocesan funds for his retirement. But other Catholics were dismayed it took public outcry to change his mind.
McGrath acknowledged in a statement late Monday that he “erred in judgment” in buying the five-bedroom home in San Jose’s tony Willow Glen neighborhood, which some critics noted came as the diocese faces a staggering longterm financial shortfall of $247 million.
McGrath’s change of heart came a day after this news organization revealed the purchase, raising ire from many parishioners struggling with Silicon Valley’s high-priced housing market. McGrath said that after he “heard from many on this topic,” he decided to sell the house and donate any profit to Charities Housing, a division of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.
News of McGrath’s retirement home buy came after the diocese in April asked parishioners to donate to ease a financial shortfall in funds for clergy retirement.
In fact, a summary of the diocesan financial picture distributed at a recent priest retreat and shared with this news organization describes a $247 million “financial hole.” That included lay pensions underfunded by $140 million, clergy pensions underfunded by $17 million, cathedral maintenance underfunded by $20 million, insurance reserves underfunded by $55 million and $11 million in debt for the chancery, or diocesan headquarters.
Liz Sullivan, communications director for the diocese, said that $247 million shortfall “is something we are dealing with over the long haul,” a “20-year process.” Much of the shortfall, she said, “comes from our Chancery having to financially carry many of the parishes and schools.” The summary, she added, was “part of a two-hour presentation and is a complex financial document that was for internal use only.”
Full story at San Jose Mercury News.