Billionaire Home Depot Founder Says Pope Francis Is Alienating The Rich

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December 31, 2013 3:02 p.m.

Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone has a warning for Pope Francis.

A major Republican donor, Langone told CNBC in a story published online Monday that wealthy people such as himself might stop giving to charity if the Pope continues to make statements criticizing capitalism and income inequality.

Langone said he was worried the Pope’s comments about an “exclusionary” “culture of prosperity” that may make some of the rich “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.”

Langone, who is leading an effort to raise money for the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan said he relayed these concerns to Cardinal Timothy Dolan in New York. Specifically, Langone said he told the church leader he spoke to a donor who could give millions of dollars to the cathedral project but was worried about the Pope’s “exclusionary” remarks.

“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,'” said Langone.

CNBC also spoke to Dolan, who said he told Langone the unnamed donor’s concerns seemed based on “a misunderstanding of the Holy Father’s message.”

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“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.’ And then I think he’s gonna say, ‘Oh, OK. If that’s the case, count me in for St. Patrick’s Cathedral,'” Dolan said.

Correction: This post originally said Langone said the pope’s comments might make the rich “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.” It has been clarified to indicate he was paraphrasing the Pope’s comments.

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