Despite near-global adulation signaled by his recognition as Time person of the year for 2013, not everyone is in raptures over Pope Francis’ attempts to rebrand the Catholic Church.
Home Depot founder Kenneth Langone, who is estimated to be worth $2.1 billion, has baulked at what he sees as hyper-critical comments aimed at the rich by the pontiff in his first published exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – fearing that he does not comprehend rich Americans.
Langone, 78, who is a devout Catholic has called the statements attributed to the pope on capitalism as ‘exclusionary’ and pointedly said that one wealthy anonymous benefactor he knows is reconsidering the seven-figure donation he wants to make to the restoration of Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue.
In an interview with CNBC, Langone said that the donor, who he would not name, was becoming concerned at the message the Argentinian pope was espousing – in which he urges the rich to give more to the poor and attacks a ‘culture of prosperity’ that causes some to become ‘incapable of feeling compassion for the poor’.
Langone told the network that he has personally raised his worries with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York.
‘I’ve told the cardinal, ‘Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle I hope we don’t have to deal with,’ said Langone.
‘You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don’t act the same as rich people in another country.’
Worried that the Pope does not understand wealthy American’s, Langone, who prays every morning, said that he has told Cardinal Dolan that ‘you got more with honey than vinegar’ and that he wants the archbishop to make it clear to the pope that wealthy Americans are the largest givers to charity in the world.
‘There is no nation on earth that is so forthcoming, so giving,’ he said to CNBC, adding that he hopes the pope can ‘celebrate a positive point of view rather than focusing on the negative.’0