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The Bishop's Mansion

I got a lot of e-mails off of Sunday's column arguing that the Catholic Diocese ought to sell the $1 million mansion on Oakland Place where the bishop and a couple of church officials live. The main point was that the home is an unneeded extravagance in a poor diocese in which a number of parishes and schools are closing and merging for financial reasons, to the distress of many of the faithful.

   I conceded that the money raised by selling the residence would have little impact on the diocese's long-term financial problems. But the bishop relocating to more modest digs would serve as a symbolic gesture, and send a message that sacrifice starts at the top.

   Reader response was mixed, with one assenting reader making the point that leadership sets the tone. He used the example of Buffalo Zoo head Donna Fernandes taking a pay cut when funding cuts forced a reduction in hours and staff. "It sent a message that she should be the first to sacrifice if others had to," wrote Paul.

   Others disagreed. A couple of readers made an analogy to President Bush not needing to live in the White House, but the country wanting him to have a residence befitting his stature. Another reader suggested that, with my line of thinking, the pope should move out of the Vatican.

... Donn Esmonde

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