Maine's Catholic bishop lives alone in a 7,000 sq. ft., six bedroom, $1.2 million mansion.
Canon 387 of the Code of Canon Law mandates that bishops practice “simplicity of life.”
On a trip to the United States, Pope John Paul II told U.S. bishops they should adopt a lifestyle that “imitates the poverty of Christ” so the Church can better identify with the struggles and suffering of the poor.
The Vatican’s Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops says each bishop should “be poor and appear to be poor.”
45. Affective and Effective Poverty
In order to bear witness to the Gospel before the world and before the Christian community, the Bishop, in his deeds and his words, should follow the eternal Shepherd, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9) (129).
He should be visibly poor, he should be tireless in giving alms and he should lead a modest life which, without detracting from the dignity of his office, nevertheless takes account of the socio-economic conditions of his flock. As the Council says, he should seek to avoid anything that might in any way alienate the poor, and even more than the other disciples of the Lord, he should seek to eliminate from his possessions every hint of vanity.
He should furnish his home in such a way that it never appears unapproachable, so that no one, even the humblest, is ever afraid to visit it (130). Simple in his bearing, he should seek to be affable towards everyone, and should never indulge in favouritism on the basis of wealth or social standing.
He should behave like a father towards everyone, especially towards those of lowly condition: he knows that he was anointed by the Holy Spirit, like Jesus (cf. Lk 4:18), and that he was sent first of all to proclaim the Gospel to the poor. “In this perspective of sharing and of simplicity of life, the Bishop will administer the goods of the Church like the ‘good head of a household’, and be careful to ensure that they are used for the Church’s own specific ends: the worship of God, the support of her ministers, the works of the apostolate and initiatives of charity towards the poor” (131).