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News

Billionaire's warning to Francis: don't exclude the rich
03 January 2014 13:35 by James Roberts

Kenneth Langone, founder of the Home Depot megastore who is worth an estimated US$2.1bn, has told Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York that an anonymous donor is considering withholding a seven-figure donation towards New York’s St. Patrick's Cathedral, because of the Pope’s comments about the rich.

Mr Langone, 78 and a devout Catholic, reportedly dislikes comments aimed at the rich in Francis’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, calling the statements “exclusionary”. Pope Francis criticised a “culture of prosperity” that leads some to become “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor” and blamed ideologies that “defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation”.

Mr Langone said he has raised the issue more than once with Cardinal Dolan. “I've told the cardinal ‘Rich people in one country don't act the same as rich people in another country’,” he said. “You get more with honey than with vinegar.”

Cardinal Dolan told CNBC of Canada that he had heard from Mr Langone and said, “ ‘Well, Ken, that would be a misunderstanding of the Holy Father’s message. The Pope loves poor people. He also loves rich people’ … We’ve gotta correct to make sure this gentleman understands the Holy Father’s message properly’.”

The United States ranks No. 1 in the Charities Aid Foundation's most recent World Giving Index.