Some of it is location: check where the ordinaries of New York and Chicago reside, for example.
Some of it is inherited from the previous archbishop. Although I note that the nice home where Archbishop Blair of Hartford lives is a recent acquisition, as I believe that a previous archbishop was one of those wanderers who sold a mansion and house-guested it in parishes or nursing homes.
The spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Chicago:
The cardinal uses the building for meetings and receptions with donors, and we’d be hard-pressed to find any other place that could serve those purposes.
Don’t know about that. Chicago is a pretty big city with some nice facilities here and there. Do donors need to be schmoozed on the Gold Coast? And note the reference to the mansion as a “building.” Like taking “house” and “home” out of the equation makes it go down smoother for the nosy public. I can hear it now …
Cardinal George hardly gets a wink of sleep what with all the donors are partying it up downstairs three, four nights a week. More of a burden to the archbishop, really …
I knew a priest who, at his first assignment after ordination, declined to live in what he thought of as a luxurious rectory. The parish sat on the edge of a middle-class suburb and included some impoverished neighborhoods. He rented a studio apartment on one of those streets you wouldn’t want to be walking alone after dark. The bishop suspended him.
When he got his own parish, the rectory eventually housed a few grad students who served as receptionists and he moved into a small donated house with another priest. Pretty sure it had no acreage to speak of, and, at most, one chimney.
Does it encourage donors to know they’re slugging down scotch and eating filet mignon in the same house where the archbishop keeps his underwear and shaving kit?