December 31st, 2013
01:38 PM ET

Are rich Catholics mad at the Pope?

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

(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)

    The Pope is directing his comments towards affluent, self absorbed Catholics.....NOT affluent Catholics who give back. No fire or smoke here, CNN.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
  2. Dave

    Why is god so concerned with camels? Is there another message at work here by Him?

    December 31, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Dave

      Fricking as*. I was not insulting Catholics. My problem is with the shepherds and not the flock for the most part. The Dave above is not the same Dave (me) noted below. Why do people like you act like children as opposed to have an intelligent conversation?

      December 31, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  3. Dave

    God is not Zeus, he was merely a god, while God, well, He is different.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Edmonds

      I thought you said you were an agnostic. You are a believer.

      December 31, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Dave

      Fricking as*. I was not insulting Catholics. My problem is with the shepherds and not the flock for the most part. The Dave above is not the same Dave (me) noted below. Why do people like you act like children as opposed to have an intelligent conversation?

      December 31, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
      • Edmonds

        Oh, you have a troll. Nevermind my comment.

        December 31, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
      • Edmonds

        Dave, go to H@ll!! 🙂

        December 31, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  4. TewksburyBob

    I have no problem with any of the comments. There is a lot of poverty in the world and I guess most of us can afford to be a little more generous. $180 million to renovate a building does sound like a lot of widow mite. The Boss would not be pleased.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  5. iRex

    If I were a rich Catholic I'd be more concerned about what Jesus had to say about the rich than the comparatively tame things the Pope has said, which basically is the current economic system is creating too large a wealth gap.

    Matthew 19:23
    And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. "Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

    December 31, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Marty


      December 31, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  6. OrmondGeorge

    There are two points here:
    1) Should the sinner be mad at the pope for having called him/her out for the sin of avarice?
    2) Shouldn't the Pope START cleaning greedy house before castigating others?

    December 31, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
  7. Dave

    Google Robert Poandl

    December 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • OrmondGeorge

      Were you the victim?

      December 31, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
      • Dave

        Yes, unfortunately

        December 31, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  8. Bruce Wayne

    This is just CNN trying to divide and conquer. This is a non-story meant to divide Catholics on the premise of financial resentment. If you view this as an actual "report", please consult BBC for actual stories and not wishful fabrications.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • truthprevails1

      What do you expect from a belief blog exactly? A prayer group maybe?

      December 31, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
      • Blaine

        Less atheist circular reasoning. More logic.

        December 31, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Blaine: Oh that is funny. How do Atheists use circular reasoning? I think you have Atheist confused with christian-"The bible says it, therefore it is."
          You should look up the meaning of the phrase circular reasoning before using it again.

          January 1, 2014 at 6:25 am |
    • Raul Kabinza


      January 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm |
  9. Dave

    Marx was an atheist. Limbaugh is a tool and a hypocrite. I heard him say drug addicts should be executed prior to his OxyContin scandal. However, being a former Catholic and a victim of child s*x ab*se by a priest, I can tell you with absolute certainty that the Catholic Church is not trying to stop the child s*x abuse endemic in the church and still vilifies the victims. They did their best to smear me and got the case thrown out in West Virginia using dirty tactics and a former WV judge (wife of a congressman) with juice to get the case dismissed. Fortunately, my brother is a graduate of Northwestern Law School and we got the b*stard convicted in federal court. For you rich Catholics, I remember reading somewhere that I should give all that I have to the poor and follow Christ. I also remember that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Edmonds

      Have you given away your posessions yet?

      December 31, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
      • Dave

        No, I haven't been a Catholic or a Christian from a very young age. The ab*se occurred when I was 10. And when I say abuse, I mean r*pe. I was an atheist. I am now an agnostic. No one knows what the h*ll is going on. I have a graduate degree and very good grasp of physics. No mental models of the universe work.

        December 31, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
        • Edmonds

          Gotcha. Nice work on the conviction.

          Do you realize you have done more to combat the abuse problem than the entire Catholic church?

          December 31, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  10. Dave


    December 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • George Jetson

      Troll. He seems to be gone for the moment. Probably rubber room and huggy jacket time at Bellvue for him.

      December 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  11. Lord Toronaga

    Rich Catholics don't give a flying hoot about the Vatican. We don't even care about being Catholic. We do what we have to do and don't apologize to the bottom 47%. GFY.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  12. George Jetson

    I guess our troll had to take his thorazine, or computer hours are over at Bellevue.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  13. calvin

    To heck with the rich republican Catholics. Let them whine all they want. Pope Francis is the people's pope, not a money pope. The "rich Catholics" are hypocrites, and a reason I don't go to church. They act all good and faithful on Sunday at church, but then go back to their usual selves once they step out the door.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • Bob

      These are rich Catholics from large cities, so there is a good chance they are Democrats. You might want to check your facts.

      December 31, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
      • Google is your friend

        Langone is a major Republican fundraiser

        December 31, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Hobbes

      I haven't been keeping track. Has Francis actually done anything yet? All I have seen is some speeches and symbolic personal acts. Has he unleashed the wealth of the Vatican to help people yet?

      December 31, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
      • Desert Tortoise

        What does any pope do? Not much. The clergy from any religion are a bunch of layabouts. They have never actually produced anything of worth, save for some industrious monks brewing good beer.

        December 31, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
      • nelson jones


        Much window dressing in an attempt to guile the public into thinking he is different from previous popes. Nothing substantive done yet, nor likely in the future.

        January 8, 2014 at 3:46 am |
  14. JB

    I wonder how much of the St. Patrick's Cathedral restoration project expenses come directly back to Home Depot.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Yeah

      I wonder how much that guy is paid to run his "charity." I bet it's a LOT.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  15. Alan

    The rich don't get it ... It's not about how much you give. Are they giving from the heart because of love for people and the desire to help those in need ... Or, do they give to look good as a philanthropist?

    As the Stock Market closed today at another record high ... We see an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. In the long term, this does not help the cause of capitalism ... It breeds contempt for the wealthy and gives rise to social movements for change for the masses of the poor (read your history books).

    I challenge the wealthy who process themselves to be Christians to go back to basic message of the Bible brought to us by Jesus Christ. Be humble ... Be thankful ... Serve others.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  16. Factcheck29

    Use the money to provide a home and food for the less fortunate. Revamp the Federal tax system.
    Tax people who make more than a million in income per year at 75 % and exempt people who earn less than 100K from payment of Federal and State Income tax. This will make life better for a substantial number of households.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  17. Jimboe

    They do not like this Pope. They fawned over the last Pope. Saw it all over my facebook from school friends. None of them, and I mean NONE have said a single word about this Pope. I take that as a good sign.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • I don't agree

      My school friends no longer pay attention to the catholic church. They stood by the children victims first.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Karen

      The Catholic religion is dying anyway, since young people have been leaving in big numbers. This last burst of pope-ularity is kind of its last gasps. If the best they can do is a TV personality to hoist up, that isn't durable. I see the death of the Catholic branch as a good thing.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
      • Yeah

        A good Papal reality TV show could really boost interest in them, especially if he dresses like the duck dorks!

        December 31, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  18. Jim

    Wait.... People are mad at the Pope because he wants to help poor people and says that "trickle down" doesn't work? Of course it doesn't work! Are these true Catholics if they are mad at their leader who wants to help the poor? Wow.

    December 31, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • I don't agree

      while the vatican has so much wealth? Seems rather hypocritical. Strange.

      December 31, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • I don't agree

      and their leader of child abuse cover ups?

      December 31, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
    • NCM

      Of course they be mad at Jesus as well – surprise!

      December 31, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
  19. 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 |
  20. 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 |
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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.