Pope Francis 'inequality' talk offends Home Depot co-founder, billionaire Ken Langone

Pope Francis 'inequality' talk offends Home Depot co-founder, billionaire Ken Langone

New York City : NY : USA | Jan 03, 2014 at 5:59 AM PST
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Pope Francis 'inequality' talk offends billionaire Home Depot co-founder, Ken Langone

Kenneth G. Langone is an enormously successful American businessman, investor and philanthropist who is best known for co-founding The Home Depot, a company that is part of the 30 stocks comprising the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA).

Forbes estimates Langone's personal net worth at $2.1 billion and ranks 260th richest in the world.

Langone is also a devout Roman Catholic and has been generous in donating millions to New York University, various New York City charities, including the Harlem Children's Zone. And dozens of other donations in the millions.

He is also a prodigious giver to the Roman Catholic Church, but Langone is not feeling the love or the understanding from Pope Francis.

Pope Francis beautifully written 50,000-word document, known in the Catholic Church as an encyclical, which was titled "Evangelii Gaudium,” was interprupted as a criticism of wealth.

The encyclical clearly shows that the pope's core beliefs embody the finest principals of liberalism, social justice and health care for all. The overriding theme of this encyclical is "inequality."

Langone discussed the pope on CNBC this week and expressed that he is not feeling the love from the pope. By implication, Langone is threatening to "cutoff" the pope and the Roman Catholic Church from his genorosity.

Langone says the pope doesn't get it.

After all, Langone said the pope is from Argentina and that there is a "vast difference between the pope's experience in Argentina and how we are in America."

Among the philanthropic projects that Langone has gotten behind is the restoration of New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral. Langone has spearheaded the drive to raise $180 million to restore the Roman Catholic Cathedral.

The veiled threat is the project will stop if the pope doesn't knock it off.

Langone feels unappreciated for these efforts, as he has publicly taken offense at recent comments by Pope Francis about the "rich."

Pope Francis is espousing "liberal" principals and this goes against the grain of Langone, who is a political "conservative." Langone has given hundreds of thousands to conservative groups, like the Republican National Committee, Karl Rove's American Crossroads super-PAC, and the American Action Network, the dark-money outfit run by former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman. Langone was also a bundler for Rudy Giuliani's bid for president in 2008.

It is more than a "rich versus poor" argument that seems to offend Langone, but more a "conservative versus liberal" argument that drives Langone crazy.

To think that Pope Francis is on the same page as President Barack Obama must drive Langone absolutely wild, since Langone's sworn political enemy is Obama.

For Pope Francis to be a "political ally" of Obama is salt in the wound. In fact, Obama recently quoted the pope in a speech at the THEARC! In Washington, D.C., on the subject of "income inequality." Obama took the occasion to tout increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 as a first step toward remedying this "income inequality."

Obama and the pope are on the same page.

During his remarks, Obama made several references to the pope's recently released statement about these "inequalities." Obama pointed out that the pope argues that even in the developed world, "inequality" has increased.

"Some of you may have seen just last week, the Pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length." Obama said quoting the pope. "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"

According to Langone, an anonymous, "potential seven-figure donor" for the Church’s restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral is concerned that the Pope’s criticism of capitalism are "exclusionary," especially his statements about the "culture of prosperity" leading to the wealthy being "incapable of feeling compassion for the poor."

The pope made clear he wasn't targeting the "rich" or Langone. The pope explained, "My words are not those of a foe or an opponent. I am interested only in helping those who are in thrall to an individualistic, indifferent and self-centered mentality to be freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth."

Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute defends Langone. Brooks, who heads the conservative think tank, said he agrees that the pope's beliefs are likely informed by his Argentine heritage. "In places like Argentina, what they call free enterprise is a combination of socialism and crony capitalism," he said.

Brooks added, "Taken as a whole, the exhortation (the encyclical) is good and right and beautiful. But it's limited in its understanding of economics from the American context."

After all, Brooks said, the pope "is not an economist and not an American."

So the pope doesn't understand because he is from a country that is on the verge of "socialism" and he is not an "economist."

The pope does have gravitas and a world that hangs on his every word. Langone and Brooks refuse to listen about "inequality" and "social justice." Langone is willing to his a powerful weapon against the pope.



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Pope Francis comments offends billionaire, threatens to cutoff philanthropic giving
Pope Francis comments about "inequality" offend Home Depot founder Ken Langone. Credit: Reuters
MrGrassroots is based in Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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