Billionaire Upset by Pope Talking About Inequality

Ken Langone, the billionaire founder of Home Depot, is a devout Catholic who is helping the New York Diocese raise $190 million to renovate St. Patrick’s Cathedral. But he told CNBC that the fact that the Pope has been drawing attention to the plight of the poor and to income inequality is making him and other wealthy Catholics less likely to help the church or give to charity.

Pope Francis’ critical comments about the wealthy and capitalism have at least one wealthy capitalist benefactor hesitant about giving financial support to one of the church’s major fundraising projects.

At issue is an effort to raise $180 million for the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York being spearheaded by billionaire Ken Langone, the investor known for founding Home Depot, among other things.

Langone told CNBC that one potential seven-figure donor is concerned about statements from the pope criticizing market economies as “exclusionary,” urging the rich to give more to the poor and criticizing a “culture of prosperity” that leads some to become “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.”

Langone said he’s raised the issue more than once with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, most recently at a breakfast in early December at which he updated him on fundraising progress.

“I’ve told the cardinal, ‘Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don’t have to deal with. You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don’t act the same as rich people in another country,’ ” he said…

Langone, who describes himself as a devout Catholic who prays every morning, said he has told the cardinal that “you get more with honey than with vinegar.” He said he also wants to make clear that wealthy Americans are some of the biggest donors in the world.

“There is no nation on earth that is so forthcoming, so giving,” he said, adding that he hopes the pope can “celebrate a positive point of view rather than focusing on the negative.”

Really? All of Europe have far more generous welfare systems than the United States, plus universal health care. I get so tired of this “America is the greatest country in the world and we do everything better than anyone else” bullshit. It’s empty, nationalistic hubris. How insecure are we that we have to continually pat ourselves on the back for things we don’t even do? And how horrible are rich people who say they’re less likely to give to the church if the pope says they have to help the poor?

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
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  • http://www.ranum.com Marcus Ranum

    helping the New York Diocese raise $190 million to renovate St. Patrick’s Cathedral

    Is that the diocese that’s too poor to pay compensation to their victims? Or was that another diocese?

    Hey, Langone: if you want to give the church some money, why not donate to their victims fund, instead of the bling for the bishops bathroom fund?

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Rich people in one country don’t act the same as rich people in another country,’ ” he said…

    In America, even the assholes are Exceptional.

  • raven

    Home Depot is off my list of places to shop. Langone can go to R’lyeh for all I care.

    It’s not entirely trivial either. My refrigerator is old and starting to show it. I’ve been shopping for a new one on the net. The one I chose was at the local Home Depot.

    There is a Lowes not too far away. I suppose I just have to hope whoever Lowes is, isn’t also a slime mold and buy one there.

  • whheydt

    Yup…the rich are different. If you’re rich–and Catholic–you, too, can go directly to the Archbishop to have your concerns addressed.

  • Kevin Kehres

    Camels…needles…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1246980039 caseyboucher

    I’m confused. Isn’t talking about the poor (and, heck, even trying to convince people to help them) kind of the Pope’s job?

  • a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    See, this is how I know these guys don’t believe their own Holy Babble. If they did, they’d know their sky daddy gets really pissed when the rich ignore the poor. This is part of the sheep costume for the wolves.

  • LightningRose

    As far as I’m concerned, the Raping Children Church doesn’t need a clueless billionaires money any more than it needs mine.

  • John Pieret

    Isn’t talking about the poor (and, heck, even trying to convince people to help them) kind of the Pope’s job?

    Yeah, but he’s not supposed to mean* it!

    ___________________________________________________

    * Or make people think he means it.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Matt 5:1-4 ~ Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him,

    and He began to teach them, saying:

    “Blessed be the poor, because a blessing is all they’re going to get.

    Blessed be stalwart titans of industry, because otherwise their pwecious widdle feewings would be hurt.”

  • ricko

    I’m most impressed that he got out of the Milwaukee Archdiocese and got the new one in New York! Well done.

    Now, the people in Milwaukee don’t have to listen to you rationalizing away the bankruptcy.

  • Loqi

    When you pit money against Jesus, bet on money. Jesus hasn’t won that battle once in 2000 years.

  • anubisprime

    Rich fuckers do not like any mention of the poor!…it makes them feel slightly itchy …for a little while!

    Hope the RCC are proud to have such a knob-end on their books.. they will still take his cash, after all it is what they do, and have done, for 2000 yrs.!

  • http://botevegspub.net/blog/ ajb47

    raven

    I don’t think he has anything to do with Home Depot any longer. From what wikipedia says about it, all he did was gather together the initial investors for Blank and Marcus.

  • eric

    Here’s another example of conservatives complaining when someone uses the system they say they want us to use. They generally say that welfare should not be state-imposed, but should be voluntary – donations made by individual prosperous people to those less prosperous. Now the Pope comes along and says, ‘hey prosperous catholics, let’s do more to help the less prosperous,’ and they get upset and offended about it.

  • Chiroptera

    “Blessed are the poor because…ha ha ha, I was only kidding. The poor? Fuck ’em.”

  • Chiroptera

    “There is no nation on earth that is so forthcoming, so giving,” he said, adding that he hopes the pope can “celebrate a positive point of view rather than focusing on the negative…”

    “…And what’s more positive than I got mine?”

  • Alverant

    @Raven #3

    A boycott won’t change anything unless they know and care why you’re boycotting. HD won’t care. As far as Lowes, IIRC they give to some RWNJ conspiracy kooks. No matter what happens getting a new fridge is going to help some immoral company.

  • eric

    Rich fuckers do not like any mention of the poor!…it makes them feel slightly itchy …for a little while!

    If you want to see dissonance, first ask a middle-class American Christian who would qualify for the needle-camel treatment. Top 50% of wealthiest people? Top 30%? Top 10%? I’m guessing most will agree on something around top 10%. Surely the top 5% or 1%. Then point out that, globally, “top 10%” includes anyone earning more than about $15k per year, and $50k is about top 3%.

    If that camel-needle thing is theologically true, pretty much every first world Christian is going to hell.

  • Chiroptera

    Langone does have a point, though. For every sentence the Pope speaks on behalf of the poor, that’s one less sentence speaking out in opposition for women’s health care or in support of oppression of gays.

  • dhall

    So, in order to demonstrate that the pope is absolutely right, Langone might not give to the church or to charities any longer. At least not until Francis strokes his ego and assures him that no, he’s not one of those greedy, selfish capitalists. That’ll teach the pope a lesson. In other words, just as the Donald tried to bully the Scottish government into canceling a wind farm project, Langone wants to bully the pope about what he can and cannot say. I’d have to say yes, some American billionaire capitalists think that they’re so exceptional that they’ve lost all sense of proportion. Maybe because they’re so damned used to bullying the American government into doing what they want, they really don’t understand that the strategy doesn’t always work beyond the borders.

  • dugglebogey

    Income equality is a FACT. Whether the Pope calls attention to it or not.

    If Langone gets cancer, I’m positive that pretending it doesn’t exist wouldn’t be his idea of a solution.

  • dugglebogey

    Also, I didn’t read that part of the Gospels where Jesus said “If the church doesn’t act how you like, threaten to withhold money from it until they come in line.”

  • Kevin Kehres

    You know, there is still such a thing as The Inquisition.

    Just sayin’.

  • howardhershey

    Actually all Langone really wants is the naming rights to the cathedral. It will now be called the St. Home Depot Cathedral.

  • D. C. Sessions

    No matter what happens getting a new fridge is going to help some immoral company.

    Well, yeah — if nothing else, all of them are manufactured by the same slave-labor conglomerate in China. However, the distribution chain does matter at least some, so in that regard you can have a look at Costco. They actually pay their people decently, give them full-time work with benefits, give them actual holidays — that kind of thing.

    Don’t take my word for it.

  • http://festeringscabofrealityblogspot.com fifthdentist

    @ dugglebogey

    Actually there is a story in the New Testament where a couple sold their company and withheld a portion of it instead of giving it all to the apostle as they were supposed to do.

    The kinder, gentler YHWH croaked their asses to teach the other rich fucks that they were supposed to turn all of their loot over to the Christian Mafia.

    Ken Langone should be happy that the poop doesn’t demand all of his earthly riches.

  • geocatherder

    I went to Catholic schools — first through 12th grades — and I remember a whole lot of lessons about the importance of helping the poor. But I’m old; those were the 1960s and 1970s. Perhaps the church has changed its message. I gave up on religion a long time ago, and haven’t been paying much attention. It seems like every time the current pope opens his mouth and repeats one of my well-learned school lessons from long ago, the Powers That Be go into shock. Perhaps I was taught by a bunch of subversive SJW nuns who were paying more attention to their New Testament than their Church. Or perhaps the Church just got distracted in the meantime by issues that weren’t on the table in the 1960s and just creeping onto it in the 1970s.

    I’ve thought through the whole business of promoting social justice quite carefully as an adult, free of religion. I’m still following the lessons the nuns taught me.

  • steve oberski

    Isn’t talking about the poor (and, heck, even trying to convince people to help them) kind of the Pope’s job?

    Nope, it’s demonizing women and gays and protecting paedophile priests.

    It’s right in his employment contract, page DCLXVI.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Fuck Langone, fuck Home Depot, and fuck the Catholic Church if they even show any signs of taking this asshole seriously.

    Isn’t talking about the poor (and, heck, even trying to convince people to help them) kind of the Pope’s job?

    Sometimes, it’s a spiritual leader’s job to give his group’s most arrogant members a good stern talking-to.

  • Ray, rude-ass yankee (Whimsy, I has it)

    Kevin Kehres@24, It’s just that no one expects it!

  • zxcier

    @D. C. Sessions

    Costco refrigerators eh…

  • A. Noyd

    Those are all the same goddamn arguments of every white person ever called on their racism or every straight person ever called on their homophobia or every man ever called on his sexism, etc. You’re being divisive by pointing out inequality. We’re not all like that. You have to be extra super duper nice or we won’t condescend to help you. We actually do more for you than anyone else. Focus on the positive not the negative.

    It’s not even a little bit subtle.

  • ffakr

    Unfortunately, HD has saturated the market around me and done a good job at keeping their main competition in check or in retreat.

    Menards is a hike for me. Lowes is even worse and they’ve been closing stores.

    This isn’t the first time Langone has opened his mouth and removed any doubt that he’s a Randian Ubermensch.. at least in his own mind.

    I made more of an effort to use smaller hardware shops and other big-box shops when I could after his comments related to the ACA.

    I’m done now though. I won’t step in Home Depot again. Good thing I just bought a hatch-back. Extra internal storage and a flatter roof will make it a lot easier for me to move supplies the extra 5 or so miles from the nearest Menards.

    It’s a shame a self-righteous A-hole like Langone is going to limit where I choose to shop. With a 137 year-old house, I spend a lot of money at hardware stores.

    At least I get the satisfaction that his company will loose a lot of business from me.

    Better get my roof rails ordered.

  • ffakr

    Oh yea.. screw you too Oil companies.

    That hatchback I mentioned above.. its a 2014 Prius C.

    I wanted to buy American.. I really did. The Ford C-Max was in the running till the end, and it’s much nicer inside than the Prius C. Unfortunately, the drivetrain is so obviously more refined in the Prius and the C-Max is built off the Escape chassis so it feels more like a small SUV or Cross-over than a small car.. not what I wanted. :-(

    We’ve only put 120 or 130 miles on it so far, but the car tells me I’m averaging about 65mpg in mixed driving.

    I don’t believe it’s accurately accounting for the miles I put on in pure EV mode though. I ticked off 85 miles on the ODO before the gas gauge indicated one gallon less in the tank and I fully expect to put on 160-170 total before I loose another tick [gallon] on the fuel indicator.

    It’s a brilliant car. I wish Ford had a similar offering in the Fusion Hatch or Fiesta line. Heck, I’d have even bought a GM if the up-front cost on the Volt wasn’t so much. My Prius C Model 2 ran $20K with taxes and destination.

    Now.. if my dampening mat, speaker adapters, and Polk MM6501s would just show up, I could forget about the troubles in the world for just a bit. ;-P

  • sailor1031

    urging the rich to give more to the poor and criticizing a “culture of prosperity” that leads some to become “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.”

    Langone couldn’t have demonstrated the pope’s point more clearly.

  • busterggi

    If I recall correctly the bible says Jesus said something like, “Sell all your goods and give the money to the poor.”

    I guess Langone isn’t that into following Jesus.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Of course they want to follow Jesus…really they do…but they can’t follow him too closely because that would turn them into leftists, and leftists are followers of Satan. And no, I’m not making that up — that’s what a lot of good Christians said at the Vision America hate-fest…when they weren’t chanting “cut up the concubine!” that is

  • wscott

    Really? All of Europe have far more generous welfare systems than the United States, plus universal health care.

    You misread the dog whistle, Ed. Langone is talking about *private* charity, which is 100% pure and enriches both the giver and the receiver, unlike your evil government-sponsored charity which leads to dependency & socialism. It’s a standard right-wing meme* that Americans give more to charity than any other country and look at how much disaster relief we sent when there was that typhoon in that Brown People Country!

    The right’s stock justification for opposing welfare programs has always been “private charity can do it better.” The fact that private charity has in fact demonstrably failed to do so is just one more inconvenient bit of reality to ignore or rationalize away.

    * which is to say it’s almost certainly BS

  • birgerjohansson

    “There is no nation on earth that is so forthcoming, so giving,”…..as Norway, and possibly Sweden. FIFO.

    (evil laughter)

  • birgerjohansson

    BTW during communism, all Soviet schoolchildren were taught they were living in the best land in the world. I assume things were similar in Germany 1933-1945.