Skittish Donors

Is this Cardinal Dolan’s Bishop’s Wife moment? St Pat’s has a $180M restoration project. But somebody’s nervous about Pope Francis:

(O)ne potential seven-figure donor is concerned about statements from the pope criticizing market economies as “exclusionary,” urging the rich to give more to the poor and criticizing a “culture of prosperity” that leads some to become “incapable of feeling compassion for the poor.”

This, from Ken Langone, Home Depot founder, who heads up the fundraising effort:

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.”

As a building, and as a church, St Patrick’s Cathedral may well need that much to finance needed work.

I remember Cary Grant’s speech to David Niven in The Bishop’s Wife: with so much suffering (in a post-WWII world–1947) are there greater needs than a new cathedral? Granted, the world is not quite in such desperate straits today. Cardinal Mahony took some heat for his $200M+ cathedral on the left coast–for the pricetag, not just the design. Was it right?

The cardinal is confident:

Dolan calls the Marxist label “hyperbole,” telling CNBC that the pope thinks “money in itself is morally neutral. Money, our wealth, is a gift from God. And the morality comes in the way we use it.

Pope Francis has an experienced colored by Argentina, some say. Maybe. On the other hand, greed is greed. Lack of gratitude is always lacking.

What is the attitude that accompanies giving, be it a few coins or many millions? Would Cardinal Dolan say, no thanks, to a gift with strings? I have a feeling he would do his gregarious best to reassure. But I think he would walk away if he had to.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Skittish Donors

  1. Liam says:

    Actually, I would say this is a good development: instead of pretending not to hear, the concern is a sign that hearing is happening. Listening is next.

    Cardinal Bergoglio might make inquiries into how such a donor treated his workers, customers, and suppliers (and their workers in turn). And by treat I don’t mean attitudes, but something closer to holistic due diligence. Bergoglio does reject the ideologically capitalist idea that price efficiency is the summum bonum of free exchange (Adam Smith would also have rejected it, for that matter).

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