July 26, 2022

ELIZABETH SCALIA: Selling the mansions: It’s a very good start.

It seemed to fly under the radar of both secular and most Catholic media, but recently some heartening news came out of the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, when Bishop Michael McGovern announced that he would be selling the 13-bedroom manor that has been the home of Belleville’s shepherds for over 150 years.

In a splendid example of the Church putting its money where its mouth is, Bishop McGovern’s office said that selling the valuable property is meant to “generate resources that can be used for a maternity fund for expectant mothers as well as in support of Catholic education, youth ministry and evangelization.”

This action gives comprehensive pro-life, pro-family witness both to the People of God, and to a cynical secular world, at a time when — thanks to the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade — some voices, both in and outside of the Church, have questioned whether Catholic pro-life views extend beyond the moral debate of abortion. In a press release posted to Bishop McGovern’s Facebook page, it was noted that the decision was made after much prayer and reflection and that the bishop will take up residence within the rectory of the Cathedral of St. Peter. “I hope to live more simply,” McGovern was quoted as saying, “and, as a pastor, I believe the proceeds from the sale of the home can be better used in helping pregnant mothers in need, assisting families seeking a Catholic education and providing programs for our youth.”

This seems right. I used to live down the street from the Knoxville Bishop’s residence, which was a nice house but no sort of a mansion. I don’t know if that’s still the case — we’ve acquired a cathedral since then.

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