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Chicago cardinal may sell mansion to pay legal bills

Cardinal Francis George said he's considering selling the mansion that has been home to Catholic archbishops for more than a century, and some of the profits could pay legal fees in priest sex-abuse cases.

The three-story red-brick building in Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast neighbourhood was built in 1885 and has been visited by the likes of President Franklin Roosevelt and Pope John Paul II. It could bring millions of dollars to an archdiocese that faces new lawsuits.

"If there is money [needed] to meet the new allegations, that would be a convenient place to look for it," George said.

But he said his main reason was the search for simplicity. As a priest, the archbishop took a vow of poverty. "I would like to conform my own life to a model that's more simple," he said.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Dianne Dunnegan said George could not make the decision on his own and would have to convince archdiocese Chancellor Jimmy Lago and the finance committee.

Luxury Real estate specialist Jim Kinney said the property - with 19 chimneys, a carriage house, and some 10 city lots of landscaping - could fetch at least $A22.6 million.

News of Cardinal George's aspirations follows Sunday's announcement that Bishop Patrick O'Donoghue of Lancaster in the UK plans to sell his $A2.64 million official home and spend much of the proceeds on the poor and interfaith initiatives.

Archdiocese of Chicago
British bishop to sell his house and give proceeds to the poor (20/5/02)

Boston Globe

23 May 2002