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December 31st, 2013
01:38 PM ET

Are rich Catholics mad at the Pope?

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - At least one wealthy donor in New York City is skittish about Pope Francis' comments about capitalism.

Ken Langone, the billionaire Roman Catholic who helped found Home Depot, told CNBC he has heard grumbling about the Pope's comments about the wealthy. Langone is helping to run the New York Archdiocese's $180 million fundraising effort to restore St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan.

The billionaire investor and philanthropist, who gave $200 million to New York University's medical center in 2008, told CNBC an anonymous seven-figure donor felt slighted by the pope's recent comments.

Langone has not been shy about sharing those opinions with New York Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, telling him, "you get more with honey than with vinegar."

Dolan told the financial network in an interview on Monday he has heard from Langone that one wealthy donor got the "sense that the Pope is less than enthusiastic about us."

The Archbishop said he explained to Langone, "'Well, Ken, that would be a misunderstanding of the Holy Father's message. The Pope loves poor people. He also loves rich people.' ... So I said, 'Ken, thanks for bringing it to my attention. We've gotta correct to make sure this gentleman understands the Holy Father's message properly.'"

In his first apostolic exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel," the Pope took on capitalism. He criticized an "idolatry of money" and "the inequality that spawns violence."

READ MORE: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

The Pope set his sights on "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

“Meanwhile,” Francis added, “the excluded are still waiting.”

Those comments drew the ire of some conservatives, such as talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who called the Pope's statements "sad."

"Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," Limbaugh said on his radio program. "This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope."

READ MORE: Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

The Pope fired back in an interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa that "Marxist ideology is wrong."

"But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” the Pope said of the comparison.

Pope: Marxist ideology is 'wrong'

This latest round of criticism appears to be an outlier, Dolan's office said on Tuesday.  Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the New York Archdiocese, said they "haven’t encountered more resistance – and, to be honest, (are) not sure how much resistance there even was from that one donor."

Zwilling said that because Langone withheld the name of the donor who complained, the Archdiocese cannot confirm whether the person has donated to the restoration project.

Dolan said that in a recent meeting he had with Pope Francis, the pontiff was well aware of American Catholics' financial generosity. "He's aware of our help to the missions, to the poor of the world, to international development, to peace and ... justice," Dolan told CNBC. "So, I know that he's very grateful for the ... legendary generosity of the Catholic Church in the United States."

Zwilling said the cathedral restoration fundraising was on track and "going well, slowly, but better recently." The project has raised between $80 million and $100 million of the $175 million goal, he said.

The last major restoration of St. Patrick's was in 1973 and prior to that 1949, according to the Cathedral, which said this restoration is set to be the most complete since the Cathedral opened its doors in 1879.

Other Catholic organizations and charities have reported a spike in interest and donations.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokesperson for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said she had heard no grumbling about the Pope's comments on money.

"People universally seem delighted at Pope Francis’ clearly addressing the needs of our society, in particular, those in desperate need. His plain speech touches everyone. He challenges people without scaring them off. He emphasizes that we’re all in one family, where we share, rather than compete, with one another," she said.

CNN's Daniel Burke contributed to this report

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • New York • Pope • Pope Francis • United States

soundoff (813 Responses)
  1. I don't agree

    "The project has raised between $80 million and $100 million of the $175 million goal, he said."

    but the actual costs are likely 30 million.

    Remember, the vatican was caught money laundering this year and in the late 80's in the USA.

    The popes, b1tchops and cardinals aren't the most honest bunch.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  2. I don't agree

    "The project has raised between $80 million and $100 million of the $175 million goal, he said."

    but the actual costs are likely 30 million.

    Remember, the vatican was caught money laundering this year and in the late 80's in the USA.

    The popes, bit-chops and cardinals aren't the most honest bunch.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • Interesting

      It is hard to imagine how it could cost so much. I think you could build the thing from ground up for way less than 180 million.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
      • MLH

        Restoration is much more expensive than a new built.

        December 31, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
        • Then again

          Restoration is also more appealing than helping the community.

          December 31, 2013 at 7:56 pm |
  3. catori Shadi

    "Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," Limbaugh said on his radio program. "This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope.".

    Sorry Rush – by definition, the Pope is iinfalible.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • G to the T

      Kind of... There are certain types of pronouncements that a pope can make that are considered infallible, but not everything he says is considered infallible

      January 2, 2014 at 9:43 am |
  4. robert gary

    Yes, certainly they are, because this guy is the real deal- EL POPO DE LOS PEOPELEZIO!! He embraces those with different views, afflictions, and poor personal hygiene. He lives be the scripture that so many of the other, "look the other way while the alter boys are being regularly diddled" Popes have forgotten, and that is "Embrace and champion the weak and discarded, because there four, by the Gracie of Allan, goeth thien elves" (Austin-3:12.5, book of elastics)

    December 31, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Pink Salmon

      hah! Now see who reads that.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Elmer Fudd, World's Best Theologian

      That is obviously not from the Gospel of Austin. The Gospel Of Austin reads like this:

      "And darkly will come dreams, demon-visions, screeching squish-kitties of doom, who plague my jail-cell dreams with visions of evil and corn chips. And a nice jello pudding. For I truly am God's chosen prophet of the incomprehensible."

      December 31, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  5. arjsac

    Yea 'cause their camel can't get thru the eye of a needle.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • The Society Of Ultra-Rich Christians

      Actually, we have been using special combination of nanotechnology and cloning, and we now have teeny tiny camels that can easily get through the eye of a needle. So it is just fine to wallow in our wealth, thank you very much.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
      • G to the T

        Or you could just make REALLY big needles I suppose...

        January 2, 2014 at 11:09 am |
  6. Marine Vietnam Veteran

    Of course the Catholics that are rich don't like this Pope. Just look at the drooling, mongoloid, knee jerk reaction from Rush Limbaugh. Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple and taught us that we are our brothers keeper. Not consistent with Grab all you can, any way you can Capitalism.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Just wondering

      imagine what he would have done with the popes, cardinals and bishops today? Child abuse cover ups.

      Seems that is far worse.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
  7. Just wondering

    The popes, bishops and cardinals still wear dresses. Odd they didn't wear mini skirts in the 70's.

    well, they might have worn them in the rectories during priest party time.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • MarylandBill

      Mini skirts were out of fashion in the 70s.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
  8. Troll-spotter

    "Test" is the post-remover

    December 31, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
  9. history lesson

    Charlie Manson reminds me of jesus.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Trivia

      At least Charles Manson wrote a few songs for the Beach Boys. Jesus never did that.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
      • Just wondering

        damn.. maybe after 100 years people can make up stories of Charlie and start a new religion

        December 31, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  10. history lesson

    Without the death penalty there would be no jesus today.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • Arthur Pruty

      Dying young does tend to make a legend of you. Kind of a Jim Morrison thing.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
  11. history lesson

    Without the death penalty there would be no jesus.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  12. Matt W

    Pope criticizes other people's spending habits while spending $200 million on a cathedral upgrade/remodel? LMAO.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • rejoice

      pope has a chair made of gold and billion dollar yacht too. Raising money for the poor has truly been shown to be a good profit maker.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
      • Paul

        Current pope doesn't use the gold throne. Vatican renovation? You mean the St. Peter's square project started on 2011? Yeah, bad pope.

        December 31, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
      • MarylandBill

        Yes the Pope has a chair of gold... It is called a throne and it has been used by Popes for centuries. As for renovations to churches and cathedrals, well what do you expect a church to do? Let their houses of worship decay? I would also point out that such capital expenditures are usually separate from raising funds for the poor. As for a billion dollar yacht... As far as I know only one exists in the whole world and it doesn't belong to the Pope.

        December 31, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
  13. lizzy10

    If you are generous with your treasure, time and talent, I don't think you should be insulted.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  14. rejoice

    yep,, The catholic church receives billions in our tax dollar.. gov grants, subsidies and tax exemptions.

    Odd, they spend far less than they receive.

    I have a suggestion – GET OFF OUR TAX DOLLAR

    December 31, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  15. Brocktoon

    I am a semi-practicing Catholic from NYC and I cannot possibly fathom how mankind would benefit from pumping $180 million into St. Patrick's Cathedral.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
  16. Joan

    The pope needs to stick to what he does – and stop talking about wealth (poor v rich). If not for the rich, the church would have no donors. Let's not forget about being realistic. It takes money to run things. (Something our government has totally lost track of.)

    December 31, 2013 at 7:09 pm |
    • rejoice

      pope ignores what should have been his #1 priority,, helping children abused and destroyed due to the cover ups

      December 31, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  17. Arthur Pruty

    Is there a troll, or is the board malfunctioning? Posts from 4 hours ago keep reappearing.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • lol??

      There are an estimated 10 mil psychopaths , and more depending on severity, living in the US. Mobsters LUV em and they gravitate to the belief blogs.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
      • truthprevails1

        Did your nurse tell you that there were that many of you? Are you not overdue for your evening injection?

        December 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
      • Just wondering

        I thought there were more catholics than that.

        December 31, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
      • I don't agree

        "The project has raised between $80 million and $100 million of the $175 million goal, he said."

        and the actual cost is likely 30 million. Profit again, vatican style.

        December 31, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
  18. Rich Papist

    I am tired of hearing about the pretty things the Pope says and would like to see what he is going to do about the problems he coats with his sugar.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • rejoice

      like the child abuse cover ups that continue?

      December 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • aldewacs2

      It's all in the perception.
      The RCC is not about dealing with the past – they're about promising all kinds of goodies in the future. So far in the future that to collect, you need to be dead, but to get the promise even made to you, you pay your dues in the here and now.
      The perfect scam. Ponzi was an amateur compared to these guys.

      January 2, 2014 at 4:55 pm |
  19. herfules

    Rush has no idea what Marxism is. In his mind, it's any position that disagrees with his own.

    Sadly, his fans will believe whatever he says and not research it for themselves. smh

    December 31, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
    • Just wondering

      just like the cathoholics

      December 31, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  20. Karl

    They should be mad at The Christ as he, the leader of all Christendom, lived poor and died poor. If Christ did not mind riches, why should any of its followers?

    December 31, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.