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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. Alex

    I've yet to read a Biblical passage which says the more money you have – and the more you clutch tightly to it solely because its YOURS – the better for your soul.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  2. Andy

    The Pope never said he was against capitalism , he warned of the dangers of UNRESTRAINED capitalism. Government ought to be a servant of the people and that means ALL of the people. Just as within the government itself there is a system of checks and balances, in society as a whole there needs to be checks and balances. A vigilant government is needed to represent and balance against corporations and big money , an active free press to watchdog big government and big business.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • John

      You are right on the mark Andy. What you describe is how the US became a great nation. We are crumbling now under the weight of unrestrained materialism. Precisely what Pope Francis is seeing and warning about.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • drrichard

      Be nice if we still had that in America. The big corporations just get larger and control more of the media, pay off Congresspeople, and every president since Johnson seems to be in their pocket.

      Anyway, as far as the pope goes, I think he was giving the correct Biblical statement: It's not that money is the root of all evil, but the love of money is. Balance in all things is needed, something too many of us have forgotten. (This might be a view closer to Buddhism, though as an agnostic I see all religions as preaching good, even if their practices may be something else again.)

      December 15, 2013 at 10:39 am |
      • Andy

        I agree that there are consistent threads among religions and philosophies. "Balance" is key. And that seems to be getting lost int he American political landscape. I am simply amazed at how many people fail to actually read and/or listen to what an individual. Actually said, and apply critical thinking to it. So many people react emotionally to what they THINK the person (in this case the Pope). Is saying. I am not sure where I fall on religion, but I do know I admire Pope Francis. For trying to walk the talk of Christianity. I admire him and his openness to dialogue.

        December 15, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Kevin H

      Oddly enough a capitalist himself warned of the dire consequences of excessive capitalism – his name was....are you ready? Alan Greenspan. He told Congress that "irrational exuberance" had taken over the markets and that there would be a correction. That correction was the housing crisis. He and the Fed were partially to blame – but only partially. Regulatory missteps, greed, and other whoas must all take responsibility.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:53 am |
      • Andy

        Another unlikely capitalist also nailed the problem on the head.....Herbert Hoover. .... His quote ....."the only problem with capitalism is capitalists, they are too god damn greedy!"

        December 15, 2013 at 11:53 am |
  3. conoclast

    Seems Pope Frances is a bit too much of a wise world-citizen for the American psychotic-right not to object to, hmm? And of course, when there's something or somebody Limbaugh disagrees with his knee-jerk response is to call it "Marxist".

    What else is new, Rush?

    December 15, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Pope

      the pope needs to answer for crimes against children worldwide.. That should be his first responsibility.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • drrichard

      Limbaugh's problem is the same as the psychotic Joe McCarthy's was in the '50s. If he's going to keep the attention of his credulous base he has has to keep attacking more and more people. Eventually McCarthy attacked the army, not a smart move when Eisenhower was president, and his televised antics were so creepy that the American people realized what a fool he was. I think people are a little more sophisticated today, which is why Rush does less damage. Sadly, there are always folks who will believe a loudmouth entertainer with little knowledge and an ability to lie.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  4. Geo Bruno

    When do the bible waving pols, who want to tell you how to live and who you can marry.

    mention that the good book says way more bad things about the rich and amassing wealth?

    December 15, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Matthew Grant

      I know right. They want to only pick out the parts of the bible that they agree with and ignoring the parts that they don't agree with. I even see some even try to defend the rich. They make such statements as "I followed God's word and thus he bless me and that is the reason that I am rich". And "that person is poor because he does not believe in God" It is quite disgusting to me. Sometime I wish there was actually someone judging these people based on their action when they die because these hypocrites would be in for a big surprise.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:38 am |
      • ?

        MG
        Joel Osteen?

        December 15, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  5. POPE OBAMA

    YEA YEA YEA

    OPOOPA IS NOT A MARXIST SOCIALIST EITHER OR HIS PAL CASTRO IS HE????????

    AND HITLER WASNT A FASCIST

    LIARS LIARS PANTS ON FIRE ... POPE GOING TO HELL FOR LYING LIKE THIS TO THE WORLD

    December 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Pope

      vatcan also aided hitler while jews where destroyed.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:24 am |
      • igaftr

        correct... it was pope PIUS XII who created the Reichskonkordat with the rising Nazi's ( before he was pope) and the Catholics were very quiet...stayed silent on Krystallnacht...which was one of the first open attacks on the jews.

        December 15, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • Pig in a Poke

      I can tell you are somewhat of an intellectual.

      December 15, 2013 at 11:14 am |
    • William Jackson

      WOW are you off your med's. What are you on about, pleaset get help.

      December 15, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  6. Geo Bruno

    How many of JC's disciples were rich?

    December 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Pope

      vatican and the pope, super wealthy. In fact they love their wealth so much, they allow starving children to die so they can continue their stock market investments.

      Hey, nothing wrong with gold bars in the vatican, a gold chair and a wardrode lined with gold.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  7. thegadfly

    The pope is wrong. the "idolatry of money" HAS LED to a "new tyranny."

    December 15, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  8. Justconned

    JUST GREAT, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, THE POPE, OF ALL PEOPLE SAYING HE KNOWS GOOD PEOPLE WHO ARE MARXIST. I GUESS THAT WOULD MAKE SENSE SINCE THE CATHOLIC PEOPLE DO NOT ELECT THE POPE, MUCH THE WAY MARXISM WORKS?

    December 15, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • ?

      Just...
      Shush, you don't have to yell, even if I might agree with you.

      December 15, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  9. raul c.

    It's ok Pope since the nut who called you a Marxist is a cult leader.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:17 am |
  10. NoRush

    Why is the Pope coming down to Rush's level? Rush is a minor player compared to the amount of people that the Pope influences.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • George

      Agreed. That was my thought, too. And the followup question is, "Why does CNN bother reporting on Rush Limbaugh?"

      December 15, 2013 at 10:18 am |
      • AMB

        Rush is the voice of Conservative Republicans and as such is newsworthy. Of course dealing in facts is not one of Rush's strongpoints but as a shock-jock (earning $10M/yr) that really isn't necessary. From his comments he obviously does not realize that Leninism and true Marxism are vastly different.

        December 15, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Pope

      pope influences who? 3rd world countries with American $$$$

      Good thing the pope is watching the jesus throne and saving up all that gold and cash for him.

      Rush and the pope are con men

      December 15, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  11. AZSenior

    Chris, this is I'm AN angry leftist........

    December 15, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  12. dubyab

    The Pope is right and we need not look any further than this final quarter, the end of the grand business cycle amassing as much capital as possible at the expense of Jesus Christ and religion.

    December 15, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  13. Rush and the Pope

    Look at meeeeeeee! I'm humble.

    They both lie, deceive and are out for cash

    December 15, 2013 at 9:59 am |
    • Kurt

      Wow. What exactly could the pope do for you to not blast him?

      Do you hate him because he is famous or Catholic?

      December 15, 2013 at 10:19 am |
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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.