California bishop says he won't retire in $2.3M home

The bishop for the Catholic Diocese of San Jose has reversed course and said he will not live in a $2.3 million Silicone Valley home that the diocese bought for his retirement.

Bishop Patrick J. McGrath acknowledged he "erred in judgment" and said he plans instead to live in a rectory at one of the diocese's parishes, the San Jose Mercury News reported Tuesday. The house will be put up for sale.

"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," McGrath said in a statement. "I have heard from many on this topic and I have decided not to move into this house."

McGrath's reversal came after the purchase of the nearly 3,300-square-foot home (306 square-meter) raised concerns among some of the diocese's 640,000 Catholics, given the church's mission of charity and serving the poor.

It also appeared at odds with McGrath's previously expressed concerns about housing inequality in Northern California, where soaring housing prices have pushed some lower-income residents into homelessness.

In 2016, McGrath co-authored an article backing a $950 million bond measure for affordable housing in which he wrote "too many children and families are living in cars or tripled up with other families in small homes because they can't afford the rent on their own."

"There is no moral or social justification, no justification whatsoever, for the lack of housing," he wrote.

The home has been described as similar to a Tuscan estate — with soaring ceilings, a "grand-sized chef's kitchen" and a "spa-like marble bathroom.

The bishop, 73, said any profit from the home sale will be donated to Charities Housing, a division of Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County.

"I assume full responsibility for this decision and I believe that the sale of the house is the appropriate action," he said.