Frankly, there’s little social justice work anyone can do without angering wealthy and economically and politically powerful people. When you have rich people and poor people, and an economic and political system that’s designed to entrench the wealthy’s position, anybody questioning that system looks like a threat.
Just ask Ken Langone, the co-founder of Home Depot, a major financial donor to the Republican Party, a billionaire, and who is currently leading a campaign to restore St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. I don’t know how this guy survived in business while being so thin-skinned unless he also had the power to call down a million pound s**thammmer of vengance on anyone who crossed him … but Pope Francis’ most recent statements about runaway capitalism have got his dander up.
He’s apparently brought the issue up more than once with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York: “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,’” Langone said, adding that “you get more with honey than with vinegar.”
Let me get this straight. Langone is arguing that Pope Francis is wrong to criticize the rich and powerful for using their money and influence to control the policial and economic messages of society … and if and other rich people don’t like what the Pope continues to say, they will use their money and iunfluence to either silence him or the Church.
A lot of people (especially those on the political right) approach the teachings of Jesus the same way they approach the licensing agreement when they put new software on their computer, tablet, or smartphone. They don’t read the whole thing: they just go to the end and click, ‘I accept.’ God is merely a smokescreen: they worship Reganomics and its golden calf. That’s why Langone can be pious with his Catholicism and not think of Matthew 19:24.