Atlanta's Archbishop speaks exclusively to CBS46


The message about living humbly was clear and it came from the top.

Pope Francis lives in an apartment at the Vatican.

He traded in the Mercedes for a Ford and said the Catholic Church should be a poor church that serves the poor.

"I also found an interesting factoid. He's the first pope since the 1800's not to order new china, new tableware," said CBS46's Scott Light as he spoke with Archbishop Wilton Gregory about the controversy over his former home in Buckhead.

"You knew that and a lot more about this pope and still the original decision was made to move into that house in Buckhead. What went into that original decision making process?"

"Not enough," said Archbishop Gregory.

"At the time it appeared pre-Francis that I would be leaving one house in Buckhead, a very nice house, a $2 million house and moving into a replacement. Given the world that now exists, and the transition, and I started planning under Pope Benedict, and I had to backtrack under Francis," Archbishop Gregory continued.

"It was a strategic mistake that perhaps I should have seen in advance but I was pretty much on automatic pilot. It was the cathedral [who] approached me and said would you sell us your house? I said yes and I'll use those funds and build another house. What did it mean? Well it meant that the house really meant nothing to me."

But to some Catholics, the archbishop quickly found out the house meant a lot and what he did was similar to sending the wrong signals to those who've lost jobs, couldn't pay their mortgage or were scrimping and saving to put their kids through school.

Archbishop Gregory heard those comments, in addition to receiving emails, letters and phone calls.

Afterwards, he apologized.

Light asked the Archbishop if his pastoral credibility was compromised.

"What was compromised was I didn't reflect enough on the action before taking it and I failed to understand what an impact it might have on other people," said Archbishop Gregory.

Scott asked, "At any point did the Vatican contact you and say you can't move into a $2 million home?"

"No. The Holy See doesn't micro-manage. I was not enamored with that house," said Archbishop Gregory.

"It came with the job and I used it as had all of my predecessors had used it for public events, welcomings, receptions, etc. I'm in a small house now and can't do that, but I'm comfortable and I learned from my mistake."

Copyright 2014 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Digital Content Producer

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