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CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: Chief International Correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera Speaks with Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York

Tuesday, 31 Dec 2013 | 8:26 AM ET

WHEN: Monday, December 30th

WHERE: CNBC's "The Kudlow Report"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and CNBC's Chief International Correspondent Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. A portion of the interview aired tonight on CNBC's "The Kudlow Report." Following is the link to the video on CNBC.com: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000231897 and http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000231896

Excerpts of the interview will run throughout CNBC's Business Day programming tomorrow, Tuesday, December 31st, beginning on CNBC's "Squawk Box" (M-F, 6AM-9AM ET).

Following is Michelle's story on CNBC.com: http://www.cnbc.com/id/101302230.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Your Eminence, thanks so much for doing this.

CARDINAL DOLAN: Thank you, Michelle.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Really appreciate it.

CARDINAL DOLAN: A blessed Christmas season to you and our listeners.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: To you, too. With Ken Langone, who's--

CARDINAL DOLAN: Ah, good. What a blessing--

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: --helping you raise money for--

CARDINAL DOLAN: --he is to-- he's been extraordinarily-- and characteristically effective and-- wonderful in raising money for our noble project of the repair and renovation of Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: He tells us he has expressed some concerns to you from at least one potential donor about recent comments from the Pope.

CARDINAL DOLAN: Ah-ha.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: What has he told you?

CARDINAL DOLAN: Well, the main thing he's told me would be that what we call the Pope Francis Effect has been extraordinary. Ken says everywhere he goes, there seems to be an excitement and almost-- a renewed appreciation in the works, the mission, the message of the Catholic Church because of Pope Francis.

So, he says to me-- "Pope Francis is helping us big time. Because there's such an enthusiasm and a love-- for him and for the church that he said, "People are more interested in our project of Saint Patrick's Cathedral." He did pass on to me.

He said, "Now, one person said, 'You know, you come to us who have been-- blessed, who are wealthy. And, yet, we sense that, perhaps, the Pope is less than enthusiastic about us.'" And he said, "We need to correct that."

And I said, "Well-- Ken, that would be a misunderstanding of the Holy Father's-- message. The Pope loves poor people. He also loves rich people. He loves people, all right. He's -- and he-- and he's not into the condemning game for anybody." His famous, renowned statement now, "Who am I to judge?" So, I said, "Ken, thanks for bringing it to my attention. We've got to correct to make sure this gentleman, who's the only one I've heard, understands the Holy Father's message properly. And then, I think he's going to say, 'Oh, okay. If that's the case, count me in for Saint Patrick's Cathedral,' so."

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Who is that gentleman?

CARDINAL DOLAN: I don't know, to tell you the truth. I don't know. He did-- Ken didn't tell me--

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Okay.

CARDINAL DOLAN: --so, yeah. But I trust Ken's judgment so much that if he tells me, "This is a potential donor who's a little confused and perhaps irritated about the Pope's message. Can you help me out here?" So, I think we have. Yeah.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: So, you won't be speaking to the Pope about the concerns?

CARDINAL DOLAN: (LAUGH) No.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: No?

CARDINAL DOLAN: No, I don't think so. I won't be doing that, no. No.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Is there any possibility of a dialogue, just to talk about the wealthy in America, that Ken Langone contends is really different than wealthy in most other parts of the world? That there's a uniquely American philanthropy.

CARDINAL DOLAN: Yeah. I would -- yeah-- I would say Ken has a point. Because-- for us-- unlike some-- unlike other countries of the world, we don't have these century-old wealthy people. We don't have an aristocratic class. We have people, like Ken himself, who came up the hard way and worked very hard with immense industry and diligence, and now-- is a man of wealth.

And those people, by their nature, want to help those who are now coming up. So, there seems to be, as part of the American chemistry, a desire to give back. I see that all the time, particularly in New York. New York City is the philanthropic capital of the world. And it's almost as if people, they can't do enough to give back, whether it be our Catholic charities, our inner-city-- Catholic schools, or Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

They just want to help. They almost-- it's almost an innate sense of their duty to return to the society, to the culture, to the country, to the city, to the church that has helped them get where they were. I have people all the time say, "You know, Cardinal, I may have gone to Harvard, I may have gone to Princeton, but I wouldn't be anywhere if I had not had my Catholic grade school education. And now, it's time to give back."

So-- Ken is correct. I think there's a difference-- in the United States. That having been said, we all need to hear the message of Pope Francis, which is about as biblical as you can get-- very Christ centered, in that money in itself is morally neutral. Money-- our temporal-- our wealth is a gift from God. And the morality comes in the way we use it. Money is, in itself, capital in itself-- your earthly -- treasure is morally neutral. It's how we use it.

If it becomes a god, if it becomes an idol, Pope Francis is saying, then it's wrong. Because there is only one god. If we use it for our own selves and our families, for a secure and safe present and future, if we use it to reinvest in the community, to help others, and if we share with the poor, then it's morally good. And in general, I find that in the United States.

But we need that-- we still need that kind of-- that cogent reminder-- that Pope Francis prophetically gives us, "Make sure money never becomes an idol. Make sure money never becomes an alternate god because there is only one god. And he's the one who gave you the-- earthly treasures to begin with."

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: The quote I have from Ken is, "I've told the cardinal, 'Your Eminence, this is one more hurdle to jump over that I don't need. (LAUGH) You want to be careful about generalities. Rich people in one country don't act the same as rich people in another country.'" Do you think the Pope would agree with that contention?

CARDINAL DOLAN: I'm not sure. That'd be pure speculation. I know that the Holy Father, because he's -- he has told me in the one long sit down that I had with him, the Holy Father's told me that he has a lot of gratitude for the generosity of the Catholic Church in the United States.

He's aware of our help to the missions, to the poor of the world, to international development, to peace and justice, and to the Holy See, to the church universal, to him. So, I know that he's very grateful for the-- legendary generosity of the Catholic Church in the United States. That I know.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: When you read the exhortation--

CARDINAL DOLAN: Yeah.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: --from the p--

CARDINAL DOLAN: Isn't it a good one? Yeah, the--

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: I enjoyed a lot of it.

CARDINAL DOLAN: --Gospel of Joy. Glad you did, Michelle.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: My favorite line was--

CARDINAL DOLAN: Sour pusses?

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: No. (LAUGH) "Some Christians are all Lent and no Easter."

CARDINAL DOLAN: Ah-ha, you liked that? All Advent--

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Yes.

CARDINAL DOLAN: --and no Christmas, right?

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Yes. (LAUGH) Exactly. When you read his comments about the free market--

CARDINAL DOLAN: Yeah. Yeah.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: --and the distribution of capital, do you think he is anti-free markets?

CARDINAL DOLAN: No, I don't think so. You'd have to keep in -- l-- look, the Pope is the inheritor of a legacy of teaching. We call that the magisterium, to give you the fancy word. The legacy of the church's teaching, the magisterium, well, that dates back to the Bible, especially the teachings of Jesus, the development of the saints, and especially, Michelle, ex-- in a very explicit way, in the modern popes, starting with Pope Leo in-- in 1891. And we call that his encyclical rerum novarum, which was a real precise treatment of the marketplace, of the economy, of labor.

And every pope after that has kind of reasserted and reemphasized that. And Pope Francis is, too. What's the hallmark of that teaching, is that the church always recommends what we call a via media, a middle way. So, you would find Pope -- Francis saying, "Look, both extremes of the marketplace, both extremes," in other words, unfettered, cutthroat capitalism on the one hand, or-- com-- total-- socialism on the other, "both of those don't work. Both of those are wrong."

Somewhere in the middle, where we protect private property, investment, private wealth, but we also insist upon the wider society's-- just-- obligations to those without. Somewhere between those two, the via media, prudentially, are where the economy should be. So, the Catholic Church has -- so, we get blasted from both sides. So, those who would want an unrestrained, almost an Adam -- Smith Wealth of Nations type capitalism, they think we were too far to the left.

And those on the left, when they hear us speak-- to protect the right of -- private property, private capital, and private wealth, they would think we're too far to the right. Not a bad place to be in the via media. And that, more or less, is what Pope Francis is saying.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: But when societies around the world have to make a choice about how they are going to allocate resources, there's the top-down government choice and there's market pricing. Which do you think the Catholic Church supports?

CARDINAL DOLAN: I'm-- and I'm not trying to dodge your question, Michelle. You know that. I don't know if the church would come out to support either way as much as pastorally to remind us of the obligations. It's almost as if the Pope, the magisterium, the church, and her teaching would say, "Wait a minute. As far as the economic -- all these economic-- precision and all these economic theories and all this stuff, we're not experts there. We're not economists.

"We are moralists. We are prophetic. We are people of the Bible. And we are virtue. And all we know is that however you do it, and there's a lot of different theories as to how you might accomplish it, all we know is that the wider community always has to be taken care of. And that the accumulation of wealth in itself should not be one's drive.

"That the-- and the accumulation of wealth, that then must be used, yes, for your family, your legitimate personal needs. But it also must always be reinvested in the community. And the rights and needs of the poor always need to be given preference." Some-- now, how you accomplish that I think the Pope would say, "I'm no expert on that." And I think most Catholics would say, "We're no expert on that."

So, Catholics in the United States can agree or disagree on things like minimum wage-- things like-- the budget and the welfare. There's a legitimate latitude of agreement and disagreement of a good conversation going, as long as those basic principles, those sturdy moral principles which the Catholic Church has held for centuries, as long as those are always heeded.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: So, those who have labeled the Pope's exhortation when they've read it, calling it Marxist theology?

CARDINAL DOLAN: That's hyperbole. I think that would be-- that would be terrible exaggeration. Yeah.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: What should I have asked you? What did you expect me to ask you?

CARDINAL DOLAN: Given Pope Francis'-- laudable and renowned concern for the poor, would he think the repair of a church would be-- should be a high priority for a bishop? In other words, if-- should we be concerned about bricks and mortar, okay?

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: What's the answer?

CARDINAL DOLAN: Okay. I would say, and in fact I know, that Pope Francis would believe firmly that the repair and the restoration of the church's great legacy of art and architecture, cathedrals, need to be a high priority. I know that because recently, he gave a beautiful talk to a group called the Patrons of the Vatican Arts, all right.

These are wealthy people, many of whom are from New York, who give generously-- to the arts, which the Holy See, the Vatican, holds in custody and patrimony for humanity. And they were listening attentively. Because they thought, "Uh oh. Pope Francis is the pope of the poor. He might not think this is a priority." And when he spoke to them, he said, "You know what? The poor have a right to beauty." And he said, "The church has always been the protector and the promoter of the arts so that we can keep it for the poor.

"So, when the poor is at home in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, as anybody else. And we shouldn't patronize the poor to think that they don't appreciate beauty and art." Well, that's what we're doing at Saint Patrick's. This was built by the poor and it's the home for the poor. And I know Pope Francis would give an enthusiastic blessing to our-- efforts to repair it and restore it.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: How is the fundraising going? What's the goal? How far along are you?

CARDINAL DOLAN: Well, thanks to Ken-- we got sparks going. Anybody who knows Ken knows that that would happen. The final-- the what we hope to raise is about $180 million. And we're hovering around the 100 million-- dollar mark. So, we got a long way to go.

But we're there. Ken has generated a lot of interest and a lot of generosity and a lot of pledges. And-- we're going to spend between now and Saint Patrick's Day hoping to get much to it. The work, Michelle, is going famously. The outside is almost all done, and now we're concentrating on the inside. You've been by. There's scaffolding all over the place--

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Forever.

CARDINAL DOLAN: --people at -- (LAUGH) people at Rockefeller Center call it, "It's like braces on your teeth: We want to hurry up and get that off so we can see the cathedral in its radiance." And now they can because the scaffolding is coming down. They're seeing how sparkling and how sound and how repaired and renewed the cathedral is. So, it's given a lot of excitement.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Are the donors all Catholics?

CARDINAL DOLAN: No. Not at all. I'm glad you asked that. That's fascinating to me. There's a high interest in the wider business and-- commercial community. And they will be very honest with me. They will say, "Cardinal, count us in because Saint Patrick's is a gem for the entire community. And when Saint Patrick is in need of repair, that hurts New York.

"And when Saint Patrick's is solid and restored and repaired and glistening again-- it's good for business. All right?" But they also very much will say, "Saint Patrick's belongs to all of us. So, non-Catholic -- donors, Jewish donors will remember how welcome they felt at New York. They know that New York is the spiritual home. They know that Saint Patrick's is the spiritual home, the sanctuary for all of New York. They will recount to me, I wasn't here, 9/11. Where did people go? They went to Saint Patrick's. And, so, the wider community, not just the Catholic community, has been extraordinary generous to our efforts.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: So--

CARDINAL DOLAN: This is interesting. You know, like, remember when-- Pope John Paul issued Centesimus Annus. That was in 1991. He was criticized for being a little protective of the marketplace and the-- so, they thought, "Uh oh--"

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Communism was so much stronger then.

CARDINAL DOLAN: --yeah. Because-- yeah. Because he was so sensitive to the excesses of communism and socialism that he tended to say the marketplace is one of the great ways--

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Right, to lift people.

CARDINAL DOLAN: --that the poor have a fresh start. And now, Pope Francis is-- he might -- he's being criticized from the other side as saying, "Uh oh. He tends to be a little bit more prophetically critical of the other side." But that's the genius of Catholicism, that via media, that prudential middle way.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: One more question. Several people I've spoken to think that a lot of the Pope's views come from being Argentinean, where there isn't a free market. It's -- what they claim to be a free market, and a capitalist society is actually a crony capitalist society and not truly a free market economy at all. Do you think that informs his view, to some degree?

CARDINAL DOLAN: I'm sure it does. Because we're all products of where we were raised. When you were just-- thoughtfully asking me about our American experience and with the -- appreciation that we have for -- philanthropy and for community responsibility and sort of that sense of-- that our wealthy people have as, you know, "I made it. I-- now it's my turn to give back."

That-- American appreciation, that American-- chemistry, colors my approach to the economy. And I'm sure his-- being raised in Argentina-- colors his. Now, historians of Argentina tell me that over the last 50, 60 years, Argentina has seen both sides. And, so, Pope Francis would be a very-- practical pastor who said, "Look, neither side works that well. In the long run, there's always going to be flaws. And the church's job is to point out those flaws and keep moving us towards a more just, equitable economy." So, he probably-- yes, no doubt about it. His experience in South America, Argentina, yeah.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Great.

CARDINAL DOLAN: Thank you.

MICHELLE CARUSO-CABRERA: Thank you.

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