Archbishop Wilton Gregory will vacate his $2.2-million Buckhead mansion in early May and move into another available archdiocese property.
The decision followed a Saturday morning meeting at the Archdiocese of Atlanta with three advisory councils.
“After consultation with the members and hundreds of well-meaning parishioners of differing points of view, as well as my own personal reflection and prayer, I have decided to sell the Habersham property and invest the proceeds from that sale into the needs of the Catholic community,” Gregory said in a statement.
Some parishioners have criticized the Catholic leader for living too opulent a lifestyle that’s out-of-step with the example set by Pope Francis. Gregory said earlier this week he erred in moving to a 6,196-square-foot house in the toniest section of Atlanta.
Gregory arrived at the meeting at the Archdiocese of Atlanta in his Lexus, according to news reports. About 60 people — including religious clergy and laypeople — attended the meeting, which started with a prayer led by Gregory, according to Patricia Chivers, spokeswoman for the archdiocese.
The campus was closed to media and a security guard was stationed at the entrance to verify all visitors.
The two-story brick home on Habersham Road has been the topic of criticism and national news coverage. Gregory had previously said he would confer with the advisory councils before making any final decision on whether to put the house up for sale.
Parishioner Barbara Pennington, who has been a member of Christ the King for three years, said she believes Gregory should have kept the home.
“Everyone is being so negative,” she said. “I don’t think they should be bullied into changing their minds. These people have given their lives for their parishioners.”
The money for the house came from $15 million left by Joseph Mitchell, a longtime Christ the King parishioner who died in 2011. Mitchell, nephew of “Gone With the Wind” author Margaret Mitchell, asked that the money be used for the parish and for archdiocese charitable works.
“I want to thank those parishioners whose prayers, counsel and concern brought this issue to light and ensured that their Archbishop was properly attuned to the important symbolism of simple actions and the challenges faced by many of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Atlanta,” Gregory said.
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