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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
[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)
  1. Loathstheright

    The rich are greedy not matter what religion they are....just a fact of human nature.....but a main trait in conservatives.

    December 31, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
    • Raul Kabinza

      On the surface, you sound stupid. Wait... beneath the surface you just may be.

      January 1, 2014 at 2:22 pm |
  2. Mevangel

    Now, I know there's been a lot of controversy around the church lately, ya know, because of The Da Vinci Code, but what's great is you can do anything – anything – and as long as you go to confession, it's forgiven.

    December 31, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
    • Fred

      That's not how it works, Mevangel. Even though there is the whole confession thing, that's no free pass, because there is a crushing guilt that comes with being a Catholic. Whether things are good or bad or you're simply... eating tacos in the park, there is always the crushing guilt.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
      • Dave

        I was r*ped by a preist when I was 10 years old. Google Robert Poandl. He has been convicted in federal court and he still will not admitt what he has done. He will get between 8 and 10 years in the federal pen starting in mid-January.

        I have often wondered if the inane confessional thing was how he justified it.

        I don't care anymore. I have a good life and am moving on. He will likely die in prison.

        The Catholic Church needs real reform and not just sound bites by this pope.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm |
        • Fred

          I agree. Thanks for speaking up, it can't be easy.

          December 31, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
        • nelson jones

          Dave:

          This pope, like all the popes before him, is a fraud; all window dressing and little of substantive value. He is leader of one of the Worlds largest cults, pretending to care about the disadvantaged (except molested children),while really concentrating on attaining as much power and wealth as possible by claiming to be Christ's representative.

          January 8, 2014 at 3:57 am |
  3. Joe Cool

    The pope is awful, Limbaugh is awful, Republicans are awful and the rich are awful. I knew this would make it passed the moderators.

    December 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • Adman

      Before posting you should also say moderators are awful

      December 31, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
      • Actually

        The moderators here ARE awful.

        Perhaps you meant moderates?

        December 31, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Raul Kabinza

      I love it when the post makes me laugh out loud!

      People who hate the rich should only know what would happen if the rich kids all took their balls and went home, or to their vacation home, or to the vacation home of their vacation home...

      January 1, 2014 at 2:45 pm |
  4. Maria Carvalho

    Who cares what rich Catholics think of the Pope? They can continue buying expensive caviar and such things for Cardinal Dolan and be happy he is not in jail for obstruction of justice. The Pope should excomunicate the lot if they get too big for their britches.

    December 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  5. Dmitry

    Actually I believe all Catholics are mad, just from the personal experience.

    The think is, in a religion where people can buy repentance for their cins, why is some-one confused that rich Catholics make large donations ?

    December 31, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • St. Buffy, Patron Saint Of Vampire Slayers

      They are no crazier than any religious person. Which admittedly is pretty crazy.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Mevangel

      I have given a great deal of money to the Catholic church, and have been assured that I will have certain powers in heaven. Sending messages through animals, for instance.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • carob

      Spelling sin correctly might help. Also, the practice of buying forgiveness went our centuries ago. If you're gonna criticize, get your facts straight first.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
  6. 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 God.

    Google Robert Poandl

    December 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Mark

      I'm sorry about the crime committed against you. I hope justice is or does get done and you can find the peace you deserve.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
      • Dave

        He will be sentenced in mid-January. He is supposed to get between 8 to 10 years in the federal pen. He will finally reap what he has sown. I appreciate the comment.

        I have made my peace.

        I never would have believed that the Catholic Church would have fought as dirty as they did.

        Catholics (the flock), many of you are very good people. Never trust your children around the priests. If you let your child be an altar boy or have any interaction with a priest, he (or she; there are female child victims too who I have met personally) may be abused and it cannot be undone. I am successful and have been blessed in many ways but it enters my mind every single day.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
        • Mark

          I wasn't familiar with the case, but just read up on it. In my neck of the woods we saw Shawn Ratigan, priest, sentenced recently. Hopefully he can't harm others anymore.

          December 31, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Adman

      I personally like this Pope. However, I feel he has misguided his flock by taking a baby statue and carrying it with reverence , then kissing its knee, then waving bells at it in reverence and worship. All this is idolatory which was despised by Christ. There should be no image of God. Not even a baby one. Jesus taught that his followers must worship God in Spirit and in Truth.. not in any size shape or form.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  7. svann

    "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. "

    I could be wrong, but I dont think the Pope made any comments about the wealthy. Rather, he commented on the economic system that is biased toward the wealthy. You can disagree with the premise of economic bias, but to claim that he commented on the wealthy is so wrong that I dont think you even read his comments.

    December 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Songg

      It was Jesus who commented on the wealthy, but hey, Christians don't listen to that guy when what he said was inconvenient.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
      • Dave

        Amen!

        December 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
      • Will

        Amen

        December 31, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Raul Kabinza

      for you to take this CNN tripe as serious or factual is also wrong.

      January 1, 2014 at 2:47 pm |
  8. babooph

    So Langone feels the Pope is talking about him & his ilk when he uses the term "idolatry of money"... I finally agree with something this greedy old man concluded..

    December 31, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  9. babooph

    So Langone feels the Pope was speaking about him ,when he spoke ofthe "idolatry of money"...I wonder why...?

    December 31, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Hypocrisy-spotting 101

      I personally find it interesting that the Vatican now is pointing fingers at others for being obsessed with money.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
  10. rtrauben

    the rich have special obligations to all communities. to paraphrase a wise teacher:
    " if i am not for myself who will be? if i am only for myself, what am i? if not now, when? "

    December 31, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
    • Pablo

      That's a quote, not a paraphrase, and I bet Hillel knew how to capitalize.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
      • Robert Constant

        As a matter of fact, leaving out the capitalization makes it a paraphrase.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
      • rtrauben

        your nitpick. the key is the original sentiment. translation is a form of paraphrasing.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
  11. Skinny Pig

    You idiots. Mr. Langone is a Jewish man.

    December 31, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Chuckles

      He doesn't look Jewish.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
      • Skinny Pig

        Look? Seriously? That is effed up.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
      • Chuckles

        I mean, you can't even see his horns.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
        • Raul Kabinza

          now THAT was funny.

          January 1, 2014 at 2:48 pm |
    • Say Wha?

      You might read the second sentence of the article. And the last pope, the vampire guy, made him a Knight of St. Gregory. Which he did with lots of Jews, really he did. Really.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
      • Skinny Pig

        Do you believe everything you read? That is why I say "idiots". The article has it wrong.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
  12. Doug

    betcha ya the HOME DEPOT CEO bonus this year was greater than the total annual Employee raises given out in any three U.S. states (you choose) 🙂

    December 31, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Raul Kabinza

      this is mathematically not likely. but I understand your jealousy.

      January 1, 2014 at 2:50 pm |
  13. bostontola

    Happy New Year everyone.

    December 31, 2013 at 9:03 pm |
    • InDogWeTrust

      Don't you mean Happy Pagan New Year? We stole it from the Turks.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
      • Raz

        Uh, Turks aren't pagan and when they were they had little to do with the Western Calender.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
        • InDogWeTrust

          Uh, yea, there were Turkish pagans who celebrated the "newhjear" with a ball drop and sparking wine.

          December 31, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Hmmmmmmmmm

      Are you in the middle of the Atlantic? I couldn't find any land that was in the time zone that turned midnight at 9 Eastern.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • RB

      Happy New Year bostontola. I hope 14 is your best year yet.

      December 31, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • YouTuber

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW91y6xrukE

      December 31, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  14. Jeffrey

    Why restore the building when the rot walks around inside as clergy? The present Archbishop sought permission from the Vatican to move $57 million in church funds to intentionally protect the assets from victims of clerical abuse. The previous one was directly involved in keeping known pedophile priests in service, apologized then retracted his apology.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • Raul Kabinza

      I'm wondering how much the RCC pays to have the fromunda cheese s-cked away from the units under the cassocks.

      January 1, 2014 at 2:52 pm |
  15. Larry Hass

    So sad – the rich are upset that the pope thinks they aren't doing enough for the poor. The damn truth hurts don't it!!!

    December 31, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  16. Bhawk1

    Guess when push comes to shove money is God and God is money.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
  17. tired

    wouldn't it be great if that $100 million went to helping the poor rather than refurbishing a building? of course, the rich want their names on a physical thing that they can point to.as proof of their worthiness. it will never change.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • athologist

      People get paid to do the work. Instead of just giving the money away, they are helping people earn a living.

      December 31, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Dave

      I don't see how the flock does not demand this. The hypocrisy of golden chalices and jewel studded ornamentation in the Vatican is amazing. You think if you based your whole life on something you might actually read the bible and try to follow it.

      December 31, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
      • anthrogirl

        The Pope is pushing in that direction. He is setting the example through his own choices in simple housing, clothing, etc. You can't change Rome in a day, literally. He's also switching up the people in charge at the Vatican, setting the stage for a movement back toward the ideals of charity and humility.

        December 31, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
        • Michael Scott

          When in Rome.

          December 31, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
        • Hmmmmmmmmm

          I hope you are right, but Francis has a LOT of work to do before the Catholic Church ceases to be a very corrupt organization.

          December 31, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  18. Dave

    google: Robert Poandl

    December 31, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  19. 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 God.

    December 31, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  20. Seafarersd

    The pope is neither holy nor a father. Now tell me what he is!!

    December 31, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Franz Liebkind

      Not many people know it, but the Fuhrer, uh, Father, uh Papa was a terrific dancer

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

      A good man for sure.

      December 31, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
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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.