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?