Paul Ryan’s latest method for evading Church teaching is catching on. Home Depot founder Ken Langone warns that a “potential seven-figure donor” for the Church’s restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral is concerned that the Pope’s criticisms of capitalism are “exclusionary,” and Langone, who is Catholic, fears it may be rooted in “the vast difference between the Pope’s experience in Argentina and how we are in America.” The pope couldn’t possibly be reiterating over 120 years of Catholic social teaching. No, he lived in Argentina, the North Korea of South America, where there is no information on the outside world. If he was familiar with the values present on Wall Street, he surely would see that they reflect the Way of Christ.
Langone hopes that Pope Francis will “celebrate a positive point of view rather than focusing on the negative.” For Langone a watered-down, therapeutic message of positivity might be the best way to soothe the concerns of the wealthy benefactors that are evidently now wary of donating to the Church or its fundraising projects. They aren’t threatening Pope Francis, just asking: do you want us to give up charity in addition to opposing justice, or not?
Do many wealthy Americans help a lot of people through philanthropy? Yes, they do. But this does not eliminate the need for justice. Charity alone is not acceptable. Does the pope love the rich? Absolutely. He loves them enough to not sugarcoat the truth.
If potential wealthy benefactors want more clarity on Church teaching, perhaps Pope Francis’ message can be clarified by highlighting Jesus’ thoughts on the subject (see Matthew 19:24).
Camels are typically considerably larger than the eyes of needles. Behave accordingly.