DENVER (CBS4)– Construction is underway on a multi-million dollar meeting facility that will include living quarters for Denver Arch Bishop Samul Aquila. Some are asking questions about how that money is being spent.

Pope Francis wants the Catholic church “Of the poor, for the poor” and big spending in other locations has caused some concern among the church.

An expansion at the John Paul II Center in Denver (credit: CBS)

An expansion at the John Paul II Center in Denver (credit: CBS)

The Pope has chosen to live the life of the messages he preaches, living in a modest guest house. He fired an Archbishop in Germany over living in a multi-million dollar home.

In Atlanta the Archbishop there apologized after moving into a $2.2 million home. He said he is putting that property up for sale.

University of Denver Religious Studies professor Carl Raschke said the Pope’s message is clear, “If you really want to get in tune with what Jesus was preaching, humble yourself. Don’t become this ‘bling-bling’ notion.”

In Denver it’s not being referred to as bling, but work is underway on a $6.5 million expansion to the John Paul II Center that will include a living space for the Archbishop Samuel Aquila.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Karna Swanson said the expansion will include many areas for the church, not just living quarters for the Archbishop.

When asked will he be living large or will he be living frugally, Swanson replied, “Actually he’s giving up a residence of 3000 square feet to live in a smaller residence, so he’s actually downsizing,”

The Holy Trinity Center will include a lower floor with meeting and communal facilities and an upper floor with a residence for the Archbishop, priests and visitors. The expansion is being built with private funds.

That still raises eyebrows for Dr. Miguel de la Torre, a professor of social ethics at the Iliff School of Theology.

“If you have $6.5 million to build a residence and centers and we have people living on the streets here in Denver, maybe the question should be what is the best use of that money?” said Torre.

Next month the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park will be the site of a conference for 300 priests and the Archbishop.

“I think many people look at the Stanley Hotel as luxurious and we were surprised at the prices they gave us so it’s a good deal for us,” said Torre.

Swanson said the Catholic church got a good deal at the Stanley Hotel for the conference. She also stated that the number one priority of Denver’s Archbishop is always the poor.


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