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December 14th, 2013
08:30 PM ET

Pope: Marxist ideology is 'wrong'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– Pope Francis responded to critics who call his stance on capitalism Marxist, saying in a new interview that the political and economic philosophy is flat "wrong."

"Marxist ideology is wrong," the Pope told the Italian newspaper La Stampa in an interview published on Saturday. "But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

Earlier this month, the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh blasted the pontiff, calling his latest major writing, an apostolic exhortation called Evangelii Gaudium, "pure Marxism."

"It's sad because this Pope makes it very clear he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth," Limbaugh said.

READ MORE: Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

Pope Francis told La Stampa that, “there is nothing in the Exhortation that cannot be found in the social Doctrine of the Church.” The 50,000-word statement calls for church reform and castigates elements of modern capitalism.

"I wasn’t speaking from a technical point of view, what I was trying to do was to give a picture of what is going on," the Pope said of Evangelii Gaudium.

Francis - the first pope ever to hail from Latin America, where he worked on behalf of the poor in his native Argentina - warned in "Evangelii" that the "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny."

The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

"The only specific quote I used was the one regarding the 'trickle-down theories,' which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and social inclusiveness in the world," the Pope said in the new interview on Saturday.

"The promise was that when the glass was full, it would overflow, benefitting the poor. But what happens instead, is that when the glass is full, it magically gets bigger nothing ever comes out for the poor. This was the only reference to a specific theory. I was not, I repeat, speaking from a technical point of view but according to the Church’s social doctrine. This does not mean being a Marxist.”

The Pope's critique of capitalism thrilled many liberal Catholics, who have long called on church leaders to spend more time and energy on protecting the poor from economic inequalities.

READ MORE: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

soundoff (1,371 Responses)
  1. greg

    If I had to choose who to follow, drug using, viagra popping rush or pope francis , I am choosing the holy father over this moral reprobate.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:25 am |
  2. Biplab Kumar Pal

    Every ism always has it's credentials & good people to tell in favor when well being of the Human Right is concerned.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:23 am |
  3. mrl

    catholic church is always so hypocritical... like they condemn the wealthy, but you don't see them giving up any of that gold, mega wealthy paintings and statues of theirs. if they sold off michaelangelos works alone from the vatican – they could feed hundreds of thousands for a year...

    December 15, 2013 at 2:10 am |
  4. Manasi

    Can we please stop talking about Rush Limaugh? He's about as relevant as a Kardashian. Probably less.

    December 15, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • atomD21

      And he knows it too. That's why he will bust out with an even more idiotic bunch of crap than normal from time to time, because it is slightly more subtle than just screaming "Pay attention to me!!!" into his mic.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:05 am |
    • Biffy

      Okay. Let's talk about something else. How about hearing the true prophecy of the true prophet, the one Jesus elbowed out in his lust for glory.

      "There shall, in that time, be rumors of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things wi– with the sort of raffia work base that has an attachment. At this time, a friend shall lose his friend's hammer and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o'clock."

      Clearly the words of a true messiah.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:13 am |
    • dick E. Normus

      Limbaugh is a fat pig and who in their right mind cares what he thinks and says?

      December 15, 2013 at 2:22 am |
  5. Phil

    Why even bother responding to idiots that do even know the definition of liberalism? (Hint: It's not what Americans think)

    December 15, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • atomD21

      WHAT?! Are you daring to suggest that Americans may be wrong about something? Liberalism is whatever Fox News says it is! Now if you'll excuse me, I have to fight for their imaginary war on Christmas!

      December 15, 2013 at 2:04 am |
      • William Jackson

        Loved the video of Bill Orielly fighting the war on Christmas complaining of a department stores happy holidays sign, and then wishing his next guest a happy holidays.

        December 15, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  6. Greg

    Popes are suppose to tell us to do better for the poor. That is what they do (when they aren't telling women to not use birth control). Rush has made $300 million by huckstering for billionaires. He keeps the working poor angry at the government rather than angry at the CEO of McDonald Douglas for getting paid tens of millions to sell unnecessary hardware to the military.

    The rich don't use their extra money to hire more workers. That is not their role. They hire more as a last resort. They usually stash their cash in Swiss accounts and allow their offspring to have affluenza a la Paris Hilton.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:51 am |
    • Maria O'Connor

      I agree with you. Limbaugh don't understand the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, that has nothing to do with marxism.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • Brian Gregory

      Birth control does not help the poor. There are no such things as 'birth control pills'. These pills murder unborn children as conception begins in the fallopian tubes. It also leads to women dying from blood clots, cancer, etc.,. Get your facts right.

      You are not saved by the Protestant lie of salvation by faith alone, which, was created by the heretics Luther & Calvin. You are saved by faith but must be baptized (St. Mk:16.16) & receive COMMUNION (St. Mtt:26.26-28 St. Jn:6.48-59). You will also find salvation by faith in Christ works through love (Gal:5.6) of God & our neighbour (St. Mtt:22.37,39) including those who consider us their enemies – the meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan. See also St. Mtt:25.31-46 St. Lk:12.33-34

      Brian

      December 15, 2013 at 2:20 am |
      • Andy

        Not really the tone of this conversation, I think we're worrying more about mortal salvation through tough economic times than eternal salvation, but thanks for trying.

        December 15, 2013 at 3:59 am |
      • Jules

        You have left out John3:5 – 8. Where Jesus says you must be born of water and of the spirit. He goes on to say that flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit. I believe this means that you are born once by your mother, but you must be also born of the spirit, from which comes the phrase of being born again. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are a good read and especially good if you would like to know why Pope Francis says what he says and does what he does. The man has a heart for Jesus.

        December 15, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  7. zappo15

    Was Jesus a marxist?

    December 15, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • atomD21

      Not the American Capitalist Jesus. He was a solid GOP fan and lover of all things corporate. But I suppose if you mean the guy they talked about in the Bible, then by Rush's definition, yes. Jesus and Karl Marx are BFF's...

      December 15, 2013 at 2:00 am |
    • Manasi

      I can't believe people are still using the term "Marxist" - it's minimizing a wide-ranging and complex set of ideals to the writings of one man and his followers, and it's pathetic. What are we, Christians?

      December 15, 2013 at 2:04 am |
  8. peter

    it's good to know the Pope is speaking his mind about the practical side of human existence, which seems more relevant to those struggling in life economically.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:44 am |
  9. john

    People are unaware of the Church's social doctrine and mostly its condemnation of Marxism and Communism as being totally wrong

    December 15, 2013 at 1:40 am |
  10. JM

    Lot of fools on the right who blow hot air. Total BS. Nothing Christian about those people.

    Thank God for Pope Francis.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:37 am |
  11. Oroquieta

    He doesn't believe in the idea of Marxist but he can ove with Marxist who are good people. He was saying

    December 15, 2013 at 1:36 am |
  12. Andrew Davis

    I can't believe that this magnificent Pope even feels obligated to answer to the like of Limbaugh or Palin!
    They'll have to explain themselves to St. Peter.....

    December 15, 2013 at 1:33 am |
    • Bruce in the desert

      Amen!

      December 15, 2013 at 1:40 am |
    • TXLady

      Andrew, those people you mention and many more on the current GOP have no shame

      December 15, 2013 at 1:53 am |
      • Norma B

        Clearly you don't either; attacking half the country like that. You obviously have no clue what republicans believe.

        December 15, 2013 at 2:23 am |
  13. Steve Smith

    A Pope with the courage to tell the truth. Even Teddy Roosevelt, a GOP president, saw that there are times when there are excesses that must be curbed. He was the great Trust Buster. If you need more evince look at the events of f2007/2008 where Wall St. went unchecked.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  14. C. Baldwin

    ok then

    December 15, 2013 at 1:32 am |
  15. Frank

    Christianity is socialist. We are taught to love our enemies as we do ourselves. We are taught to take care of the planet. We are taught to share and to give excess wealth to those that need it most. We are also taught that starting wars for no reason is a horrible thing to do.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

      Where does Jesus say it's okay to start a war if you have a reason?

      And where is the part about "excess wealth"? My bible says give everything away. I mean, even the ultra-rich will say they don't have and "excess" wealth.

      I mean, you have a more humane version of Christianity than I normally encounter, but I think you might not have your facts quite right.

      December 15, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • TXLady

      I'm assuming you are being sarcastic rather than ignorant, because I don't know what loving our planet has to do with being socialist. So republicans don't love the planet? Democrats? Oh wait...I see, you think they are one and the same with socialists. Well, then I can see that you are just ignorant

      December 15, 2013 at 1:56 am |
    • Norma B

      We are taught to do those things out of our own free will; not to be forced to do them by the government. That is the difference which you fail to understand.

      December 15, 2013 at 2:25 am |
  16. rosethornne

    Help, help, we're bein' repressed....

    December 15, 2013 at 1:28 am |
    • The peasant woman from scene 5 (and, strangely enough, from a Republican politicin too!)

      I'm not a witch!

      December 15, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • sam

      Come and see the violence inherent in the system!!

      December 15, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • Andy

      Are they Nee'ing that old woman? What has the world come to.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:08 am |
  17. Ray Strischek

    Wow, a good Pope. Who knew?

    December 15, 2013 at 1:23 am |
  18. Makes you wonder

    You know, with the steady long-term decline in Rush's ratings, alienating Catholics just ain't a good strategy for him. Yes, he will probably always find some stations to broadcast his broadbelly blather to the yokels dim enough to believe he's a schmarty, but he has lost a LOT of market share in a LOT of major markets.

    I don't see why the Pope would even give people like him time of day. Francis should keep to what he thinks is right and just ignore the bloated buffoon.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • TXLady

      Since when what Limbaugh does or says makes any sense or good strategy? He is a redneck with money

      December 15, 2013 at 1:58 am |
      • Paper Street Soap Company

        yep
        A theologian named Jose Miranda wrote a book called "Communism in the Bible" that addressed that directly. It's an interesting read.

        December 15, 2013 at 4:09 am |
    • Andy

      I was just reading an article about an experiment I have subconsciously known all along, that the smarter someone thinks they are, the dumber they are. Rush is the case and point. I personally have never placed myself intellectually above others, I let standardized tests do it for me.

      December 15, 2013 at 4:26 am |
  19. Mark

    The Pope is right and shows you how stupid right-wingers are. They say the Fed's money printing and government's liberal spending are dooming America, but then they say trickle down economics are good, and they don't even realize they are contradicting themselves.

    Fact: when money is printed by the central bank, it benefits the rich and powerful, who get the money before prices go up, and it hurts the 99% because by the time the money "trickles down" to them, inflation has eroded all of the gains and then some.

    Fact: Top 1% of Americans have never been wealthier

    Fact: 99% are back at 1980s standard of living

    That's what happens when you borrow and print money to the ends of the earth.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:19 am |
  20. Peter Q Wolfe

    All the Pontiff was saying was neither economic theory whether marxism nor capitalism works for average humans in a spiritual sense for catholic believers in Christ and the church. Beyond that everything else is speculative and reveals a biased. This isn't the first nor will it be the last pontiff to voice such an opinion on economics. Essentially don't adhere stiffly to either modle to rely on for your economic morality is the theme. Lastly, creation of a human centered modle not a mechanical nor too personal modle is needed to center around morality of the individual and diviness of God is needed.

    December 15, 2013 at 1:17 am |
    • madrogio

      All right, we'll increase it to 2,000,000 volts.... (NOTE: may need to issue brownout warnings)

      December 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.